Beginning in January of last year, Massachusetts employees became eligible for a new state-sponsored benefit that provides up to 26 weeks of job protected leave for medical and family reasons. Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) is separate from the federal government’s Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as well as any benefits offered by an employer.
Recently, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave issued a series of updates to the PFML program. Employers should visit https://www.mass.gov/orgs/department-of-family-and-medical-leave and review guidance around the following:
- Switching between private paid plans and PFML: This guidance focused on the steps an employer must follow if it chooses to move from a private plan to the state-managed public fund, the exemption terms and penalties assessed on employers if they choose to do so, and the effect on employee leaves during a plan transition.
- Frequently asked questions: The FAQs provide answers to general questions about PFML, how to apply, and advice for reviewing employee applications, managing paid time off and payments, and tracking income and other leave.
- Insurance carriers’ guide to PFML: This guide offers provides employers information about private plan benefit requirements, the required notice they must give to employees, details about tax withholdings, and the process for annual renewals.
The Department updated previously published guidance around the workforce notifications and rate sheets which employers are required to distribute, reimbursement eligibility, employer contribution rates, and using the leave administrator dashboard.
The Department also released new tools and resources for employees. For example, filers can now check the status of their PFML payments via an online portal. They can also find a list of common issues that can result in application delays and download a form affidavit to demonstrate a qualifying family relationship.
Employees may wish to review the list of benefits to report when completing an application. The Department issued brief guidance on reporting bonuses, such as one-time holiday payments or other year-end rewards. The guidance indicates that these bonuses will not impact a worker’s PFML payments and that employees should not report them.
There’s also a resource page employers can share with their team as well as a new Help Center with guidance for workers, employers, and health care providers. In light of the updates, it’s a good time for employers to consult with their advisors and review their obligations and compliance under PFML.