While we await the proposed regulations due by March 31, 2019, the new Department of Family and Medical Leave has provided several points of clarification of which employers should be aware, as we gear up for implementation of the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) Law.

As we previously reported, last summer, the Massachusetts Legislature passed the “Grand Bargain” bill, which will gradually raise the minimum wage, will phase out the time-and-a-half premium pay requirement for retail workers on Sundays and holidays, and will provide paid family and medical leave to Massachusetts workers. The Department of Family and Medical Leave is required to publish proposed regulations for public comment by March 31, 2019.

In the meantime, however, the Department has posted FAQs online that provide some points of clarification on the new PFML Law, and employers should take note of a few key highlights:

  • We already knew that beginning July 1, 2019, all Massachusetts employers will be required to contribute to the Family and Employment Security Trust Fund at an initial contribution rate of 0.63% of each employee’s wages. The Department has now clarified that the contribution will be limited to63% on the first $128,400 of an individual’s annual earnings (note that this figure may be adjusted annually);
  • In addition, while inconsistent drafting in the PFML Law caused some debate regarding the start date for employees being able to claim leave benefits, the Department has clarified the starting dates as follows:
    • On January 1, 2021, employees can begin claiming benefits for bonding with a child or newborn; service-member related events; and dealing with the employee’s own serious health condition; and
    • On July 1, 2021, employees can begin claiming benefits to care for a family member with a serious health condition.

The recent updates including the Department’s FAQs can be found here for employers and here for employees, and it should be noted that the State may continue to tinker with the FAQs leading up to the March 31 deadline for proposed regulations. We will continue to provide updates as to any significant events that occur with respect to the PFML Law.