On January 23, 2019, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) released draft regulations regarding the Paid Family and Medical Leave Law which was enacted as part of the so-called “Grand Bargain” Governor Baker reached with the state legislature last fall. The regulations which cover numerous topics ranging from contribution rates to the processing of claims are marked “for the purpose of early public input only.” DFML has scheduled a number of listening sessions to which the public is invited throughout the state in the coming weeks. A schedule of the sessions can be found at https://www.mass.gov/news/eolwd-to-host-listening-sessions-on-draft-paid-family-and-medical-leave-regulations. The statutory deadline for publication of final regulations is March 31, 2019.
Highlights of the proposed regulations include the following:
Employee and Workforce Count
A covered entity will determine the average number of members of its workforce by counting its employees, including full time, part time, seasonal and temporary, on the payroll during each pay period and dividing the number of pay periods, based on the previous calendar year. Individuals for whom payment must be reported on Form 1099-MISC should also be included in the count.
A self-employed individual may elect coverage under the Act for an initial period of not less than three years. The individual is responsible for the full contribution amount based on earnings from self-employment.
Exemption from Coverage
An employer or covered business entity may apply for approval to meet the requirements of the law through a private plan. Approvals are good for one year. To be approved the business must provide at least ALL of the benefits conferred by the law.
Job Protection and Retaliation
Employees taking family leave or medical leave under the act must be restored to their previous position or an equivalent position with the same status, pay, benefits, and seniority upon conclusion of the leave. The employer must continue to provide health benefits at the same level as before during the leave. Employees are protected from retaliation for having availed themselves of any rights under the act.