ARE YOU READY?
(Reprint of December Pomeroy Law P.C. Newsletter)
Effective January 1, 2021, many Massachusetts employees, contractors and self-employed individuals will become eligible to take up to 26 weeks of paid family and medical leave under the Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave(“PFML”) law. This law provides different types of leave and is being phased into effect next year in two parts.
Employers will need to prepare now for this new law as I describe in this article.
PAID FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE IN MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 1, 2021
PFML is similar to the federal Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). An employee will be able to take medical leave for their own serious health condition, the birth or adoption of a child, and certain types of leave related to servicemembers, and as of July 1st, employees will be able to take medical leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition. One main difference between FMLA and PFML, under PFML an eligible employee’s leave will be paid by a state benefit system that has been funded by payroll deductions over the last few years. This article will provide a summary of some of the key leave provisions and certain compliance issues that employers should think about implementing as soon as possible.
BENEFITS AVAILABLE JANUARY 1ST
On January 1, PFML law will provide eligible individuals with up to 20 weeks of medical leave each benefit year of paid leave for a covered individual's “serious health condition.” The definition of serious health condition is broad, and the Massachusetts regulations (458 CMR 2.00et seq.) detail the different types of medical conditions or treatment that may fall under this definition.
On a positive note, an employer does not make the determination of whether the medical condition falls under the definition of a serious health condition. This determination and an individual's eligibility are left to the Department of Family Medical Leave, the state agency overseeing this state benefit program.
Individuals will apply to the Department in order to confirm their eligibility for the leave. This state benefit is very similar to unemployment and the amount of the wage replacement benefit will depend on the covered individual's average weekly wage over the course of approximately a year, but the maximum benefit a covered individual may receive is $850.00 per week.
Employees must provide employers with 30or more days of notice when practicable when they take leave, but this does not apply to unexpected or emergency leave. In emergency or unexpected circumstances, an employee must provide notice about the leave when practicable.
Covered individuals will also be eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave in a benefit year for the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child. This “bonding” leave will be eligible for both men and women. This is not for a medical condition, but for the bonding with a newborn or after placement. Employees may take this leave during different time periods, but only if it is in within the first year of the birth or placement of the child.
Additionally, covered individuals will be eligible for up to 12 weeks for leave for reasons related to a family member being called to active duty, or up to 26 weeks to care for an injured or ill service ember.
BENEFITS AVAIALBLE JULY 1ST
As of July 1, 2021 – covered individuals will be able to take leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition. The definition of family member is broader than FMLA and will include spouse, domestic partner, child, parent or parent of a spouse or domestic partner of the covered individual; a person who stood in loco parentis to the covered individual when that individual was a minor; or a grandchild, grandparent or sibling of the covered individual.
As you can see, the PFML's regulation's definition includes a broader scope of family members than FMLA.
NOT JUST FOR EMPLOYEES…
Individuals covered by this law include Massachusetts W2 workers; covered businesses where more than 50% of their work force are1099 contractors; and self-employed individuals who opt in through MassTaxConnect. In order to be eligible for this benefit, the covered individual must meet the law's financial eligibility test with regard to earnings and contributions to the fund.
YOU SHOULD CONTACT AN ATTORNEY…
- If you want to address policy changes for compliance and defending against retaliation claims.
- If you need assistance understanding how PFML law impacts your business.
- If you need training for management or workforce to address law changes.
- If you want to update your leave policies and understand how this law will interplay with other leave laws.