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Massachusetts Extends Employee Notification And Exemption Application Deadlines Under New Paid Family And Medical Leave Law

This week, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave ("DFML") granted a minor reprieve to employers scrambling to meet fast-approaching deadlines under the new Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave ("PFML") law, by extending two looming compliance deadlines.

First, Massachusetts employers now have until September 20, 2019 to apply for and obtain DFML approval for an exemption from remitting first quarter (July 1-September 30, 2019) PFML contributions, based on the employer's extension of private paid family and medical leave benefits and protections to employees that are at least as generous as those required under the PFML statute. The extension gives employers an additional 82 days to contemplate private paid leave options, but applies only to first quarter contribution exemptions, and only to employers whose exemption requests are approved. An employer whose application is denied will remain responsible for contributions beginning July 1, 2019. Going forward, employers may submit exemption applications on a rolling basis, but approval must be obtained in the quarter prior to the quarter in which the exemption takes effect.

The DFML also extended, from May 31 to June 30, 2019, the deadline by which Massachusetts employers must notify all current employees and independent contractors of the new law. The DFML has posted notice templates on its website here. An employer choosing to create its own notices must include an explanation of the law's benefits and protections; the employer and employee contribution amounts and obligations; the employer's name, mailing address and identification number assigned by the DFML; instructions for filing a claim for PFML benefits; contact information for the DFML; and, if applicable, the details of any private paid leave plan offered by the employer, if approved for an exemption. Employee notices may be electronically distributed and must include a mechanism for the recipient to acknowledge (or decline to acknowledge) receipt of the information.

Employers still are required to begin withholding PFML payroll contributions on July 1, 2019, unless an employer obtains an exemption from the DFML before that date.

For more information on the new PFML statute, please see our April 29, 2019 e-alert.

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If you have questions about the Massachusetts PFML law or your organization's responsibilities under it, please feel free to contact one of our experienced employment lawyers.