October 1, 2019 triggered Massachusetts employers’ obligations to make deductions from wages and payments under the new Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave law (MAPFML).
Signed into law by Governor Baker in June 2018, the MAPFML provides eligible employees with a maximum benefit of $850 per week for job-protected family or medical leave. Although MAPFML benefits do not begin until 2021, several key employer deadlines already have passed and more are on the horizon. In addition to the October 1, 2019, deduction deadline, starting September 30, 2019, the MAPFML required all employers to notify their employees about both the benefits of MAPFML and the contribution rates. Employers are obligated to display a workplace poster (available on the Department of Family and Medical Leave’s website here) and provide written notice to each employee.
Employers’ next deadline is January 31, 2020, when contributions for the fourth quarter of 2019 (i.e., October 1, 2019, to December 31, 2019) are due. Employers’ contributions are submitted through the Department of Revenue’s MassTaxConnect system. The Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave is expected soon to announce reporting and documentation guidelines to commence in January, 2020.
MAPFML benefits are funded by a payroll tax of 0.75%, to be adjusted annually, split between certain employers and all employees. All employers must comply with the MAPFML. Those with fewer than 25 employees are not required to pay the employer portion, though they still need to deduct the tax from employees’ wages and comply with certain reporting requirements. The MAPFML does not apply to temporary employees.
The MAPFML calls for employers with 25 or more employees to pay a minimum of 60% of the medical leave component of MAPFML benefits while being permitted to deduct the remaining 40% from employees’ earnings. Those same employers, may deduct the entire amount of the family leave contributions from employees’ earnings. Smaller employers may deduct 100% of both the medical and family leave contributions from employees’ earnings.
MAPFML benefits for employees do not start until 2021. Beginning January 1, 2021, and for each eligible year thereafter, employees will be entitled to 12 weeks of paid family leave for the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child; 20 weeks of paid medical leave if the employee has a serious health condition that leaves him or her unable to work; and 26 weeks of paid family leave to care for a family member coping with a serious health condition relating to military service. In addition, beginning July 1, 2021, employees will receive 12 weeks of paid family leave to care for any family member with a serious medical condition. Employees may take a maximum 26 weeks of paid family and medical in each benefit year.
Keeping abreast of this new Massachusetts employment law is critical for employers; those that fail may be liable for up to 0.75% of their entire payroll. Employers should review their leave policies to ensure compliance with the MAPFML.