Just in time for the holidays, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (the “Department”) has launched a new website and issued FAQs on the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave law (“PFML”).
The PFML will provide paid leave for eligible Massachusetts workers to treat their own serious health condition, to care for a family member with a serious health condition, to bond with a child during the first 12 months after birth or adoption or foster care placement, or to deal with a qualified exigency arising from a family member’s active duty military service. All Massachusetts private employers, regardless of size, are subject to the PFML. The program will be funded through payroll tax contributions remitted to the Family and Employment Security Trust Fund (the “Trust Fund”). While contributions to PFML and an employer’s notice obligations begin July 1, 2019, benefits under the law are not available until January 1, 2021.
The PFML will provide paid leave for eligible Massachusetts workers to treat their own serious health condition, or to care for a family member with a serious health condition
Among other things, the FAQs highlight the following:
- Employees, independent contractors who contract with a business that issues 1099s to more than 50% of its workforce (“covered individuals”), and self-employed individuals are eligible for PFML benefits.
- An individual who wants to apply to the Department for PFML benefits must have a minimum of 15 weeks of earnings and have earned at least $4,700 in the 12-month period prior to application for the leave.
- Benefit amounts will be calculated based on a percentage of the worker’s weekly income, up to a maximum of $850 per week.
- PFML benefits will be funded through a 0.63% payroll tax contribution on the first $128,400 of an individual’s annual earnings. (The Department will determine the apportionment between medical leave and family leave contributions.)
- Employers with 25 or more employees are obligated to pay the full contribution to the Fund for family and medical leave for both employees and covered individuals but may deduct from a worker’s wages up to 40% of the total medical leave contribution required for an individual and 100% of the total family leave contribution required for an individual.
- Employers with less than 25 employees are responsible for deducting the employee contribution from each worker’s wages for remittance to the Trust Fund but they are not obligated to make any employer contribution to the Fund.
- PFML medical leave (for an employee’s own serious health condition) is capped at 20 weeks per benefit year.
- PFML family leave (to care for an employee’s family member with a serious health condition or to bond with a child) is capped at 12 weeks per benefit year.
PFML draft regulations will be issued on or before March 31, 2019. We will keep you updated on PFML developments. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact Shannon Lynch or another member of HF’s Employment Litigation and Counseling team with any questions or for compliance assistance.