The new Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave law (“PFML”) takes effect on July 1, 2019.  Although employees cannot start taking paid leave under the law until January 1, 2021, several employer obligations begin in the upcoming months.  Employers should take the following steps now to be ready for July 1:

April 29, 2019: Apply for Private Plan Exemptions

Employers who already provide paid leave benefits that meet or exceed PFML benefits can apply for an exception from collecting, remitting, and paying contributions for PFML.  The Department of Family and Medical Leave will begin accepting electronic applications for exceptions on April 29.  Applications will be considered on a rolling basis.  We recommend that our clients apply for an exemption as early as possible to allow for processing time and any necessary appeals before the payroll tax takes effect in July. 

May 31, 2019: Notify Workers

Employers are required to notify employees and independent contractors about PFML no later than May 31, 2019.  These notification requirements include: 

(1)   Posting the mandatory PFML workplace poster in a highly-visible location  (available here) by May 31. 

(2)   Providing written notice of the law to employees and independent contractors by May 31. Electronic notice is acceptable.  If you have more than 5 employees whose  primary language is not  English, you must provide notice in their primary language, if a translation is available.

(3)   Collecting written acknowledgments from all workers that receive the notice.

The Department of Family and Medical Leave recently published a template for the written acknowledgment form.  However, employers may also use a custom form if they prefer.  We are happy to provide our clients with a notice form tailored to their workplace.  Please let us know before May 15 if you would like a customized notice.

July 1, 2019: Start Withholdings

Employers should work with their payroll providers to begin withholding PFML contributions on July 1.  The first quarterly contribution must be remitted to through the Department of Revenue’s MassTaxConnect no later than October 31, 2019.  Employers can estimate the required contributions here.  As a reminder, employers of less than 25 employees will not pay the employer portion, but will have to take deductions from their employees for the employee portion.

Summer/Fall 2020: Update Handbooks and Policies

We recommend not updating handbooks and policies to include the new paid leave benefits until those benefits are available.  For most employers, we recommend a summer/fall 2020 handbook update that can be rolled out before January 2021.  However, if you have not updated your handbook within the last two years, there are many other new laws that might not be reflected in your current handbook.  Please feel free to contact us at any time if you need a handbook update in the interim. 

As always, please feel free to contact us at any time if you have any questions.