Mass Paid Family Medical Leave Act Explained (Finally)

Mass Paid Family Medical Leave Act Explained (Finally)

The PFML is administered by MA through two new entities

  1. Department of Family and Medical Leave (Department)
  2. Family and Employment Security Trust Fund (Fund)
    • Employment-based wage replacement –based on average weekly wages. Up to $850 per week (adjusted annually) based on a formula. Benefit payable after completion of a 7-day waiting period
    • All claims for benefits will be submitted to, adjudicated by and paid through the PFML Department
    • Although a state program, the PFML creates certain notice, funding and payroll tax collection obligations for employers
  1. Employer costs related to the PFML include contributions to the PFML trust fund beginning July 1, 2019
    • Employers cannot require employees to exhaust other forms of paid time off prior to or during the use of paid family or medical leave (EE may want to use time during the one week elimination period)
    • Job protection –reinstatement to a previous or equivalent position with the same status, pay, benefits, service credit and seniority as of the date the leave began, including accrual of vacation, sick leave, etc.
    • Health plan protection –the employer must continue and contribute to the covered individual’s group health plan coverage during the family or medical leave on the same terms and conditions. Employee must remit their share to employer.
    • Prohibition against employer retaliation –Individuals have a private right to sue the employer not more than 3 years after the employer’s retaliation occurs

Eligible types of leave

Paid family leave may be taken to:

  • Care for a sick family member
  • Bond with a newborn child
  • Bond with a child after adoption or foster care placement
  • Manage family affairs when a family member is on active duty in the armed forces

Paid medical leave may be taken to:

  • Manage a personal serious injury or illness 

Key Dates

  • Notice to Existing Workforce by June 30th, 2019
  • New Hires Notice begins June 1, 2019 (Collect a signed acknowledgement of receipt for the written notice from each new hire within 30 days of their start date OR a signed statement that she/he refuses to sign the acknowledgement)
  • Work Place Poster by May 31st 2019: Post a PFML poster at all its locations in English and other applicable languages
  • July 1, 2019 Payroll Contributions and Employer Tax Begins (Work with your payroll company to determine amount employer and employee will pay)
  • Beginning 1/1/2021:
    • Covered individual is eligible for 12 weeks paid family leave:
      • due to birth, adoption or foster care placement of child or
      • due to qualify the fact that a family member is on active duty and has been notice of an impending call to active duty in the armed forces
    • Covered individual is eligible for 26 weeks paid family leave:
      • in order to care for a family member who is a covered servicemember
    • Covered individual is eligible for 20 Weeks medical Leave
      • If the individual has a serious health condition that incapacitates them from work.
    • Beginning 7/1/2021:
      • Covered individual is eligible for 12 weeks paid family leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition

PAID FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE BENEFITS

MEDICAL LEAVE BENEFITS FOR INDIVIDUAL

Covered individuals may be entitled to up to 20 weeks of paid medical leave in a benefit year if they have a serious health condition that incapacitates them from work.

FAMILY LEAVE BENEFIT

Covered individuals may be entitled to up to 12 weeks of paid family leave in a benefit year related to the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child, or because of a qualifying emergency arising out of the fact that a family member is on active duty or has been notified of an impending call to active duty in the Armed Forces.

  1. Covered individuals may be entitled to up to 26 weeks of paid family leave in a benefit year to care for a family member who is a covered service member with a serious health condition

Covered individuals are eligible for no more than 26 total weeks, in the aggregate, of paid family and medical leave. A benefit year is the 52 consecutive week period beginning on the Sunday before the first day that job-protected leave commences for the covered individual. Thus, the applicable benefit year will be different for each covered individual based on when his/her job protected leave commences

THE COST and WHOM DO I REMIT AND PAY FOR?

  • .63% (.0063) of Payroll
  • Medical Leave contribution is .52% –An employer may deduct from an employee’s wages up to 40 percent of the medical leave contribution required for that employee or individual (Employer .312%, Covered Individual .208%)
  • The Family Leave contribution is .11% –An employer may deduct from an employee’s wages up to 100 percent of the family leave contribution required for that employee or individual
  • Maximum Employee Share for both Medical and Family Leave .318%. Employer Share .312%. The Employer can pay the employee share.
  • Employers averaging fewer than 25 employees are not required to contribute anything toward the .63% tax
  • Payroll tax rate is subject to annual adjustment by October 1 of each year
  • Wage base subject to tax = SSA’s annual wage limit for Federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program ($132,900 in 2019)
  • Employers that issue 1099s for more than 50% of their workforce must remit contributions for their 1099 workers (“covered individuals”) as well as their employees. Employers are not allowed to remit for 1099 employees that are not “covered individuals.

Fewer Than 25 Employees:

  • Employers averaging fewer than 25 employees working in MA are not required to contribute any employer share of the premium but are required to remit the employees share and may be required to remit The 1099 individuals share depending on the make-up of the workforce.
  • Average number of employees = Aggregate the number of employees during each pay period for the previous calendar year divided by the number of pay periods
  • Employees include FT, PT, seasonal and temporary employees on the payroll during the pay period.
  • If the 1099’s population is greater than 50% or more of the individuals, those individuals will be treated as employees to determine employer size.

Who is a Covered Individual?

(All Employees Working in MA Are Covered Individuals)

Massachusetts Based Employer Non-Massachusetts Employer
MA Resident working in MA Yes Yes
MA Resident working outside MA No No
Non-MA Resident working in MA Yes Yes
Non-MA Resident working outside MA No No

Who is a Covered Individual?

  • No minimum number of hours worked or length of service requirement
  • Self-employed individuals may elect into the PFML program for a minimum of 3 years and have at least 2 quarters paid into the fund before collecting.
  • A former employee may also be a covered individual if his or her family or medical leave starts within 26 weeks of his/her separation from employment
  • There is an earnings eligibility requirement for any individual who wants to take paid leave under the law. You must have approximately 15 weeks or more of earnings and have earned at least $4,700 in the 12-month period before you apply for leave.

MORE INFORMATION

https://www.mass.gov/orgs/department-of-family-and-medical-leav

*We aren’t attorneys, and this ISN’T positioning itself as a legal advisory. It is here to help the overwhelmed CEO, CFO or HR Manager to understand what is perhaps the most confusing laws ever composed by the mind or Man.*

*“Doreen Mason, one of our partners in the firm, prepared this for our clients … and we’d like to share it with the rest of the Massachusetts employers who are as confused (with good reason) as our clients were before they saw this.*

*“We’ll go one step further – if this still leaves you confused, Call Doreen at 978-4741-4730. Tell her you saw her writeup on the website and have questions. She’ll be delighted to give you a quick overview or to set a time when we can meet one-on-one to answer your questions.”*

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