On June 28, 2018, the Massachusetts Legislature passed House Bill 4640, which will gradually raise the minimum wage, and will provide paid family and medical leave (PFML) to employees. Most employees will be eligible to get up to 12 weeks of paid family leave and up to 20 weeks of paid medical leave. The program will be funded by premiums paid by employees, employers, and independent contractors. Contributions to the program will begin on July 1, 2019, and will be managed through the Department of Family and Medical Leave.
Starting January 1, 2021, family leave can be taken to:
- care for a family member with a serious health condition;
- bond with a child during the first 12 months after its birth;
- bond with a child during the first 12 months after adoption or foster care placement; and
- manage family affairs when a family member is on active duty in the armed forces.
Starting July 1, 2021, medical leave can be taken:
- while an employee is unable to work due to their own serious health condition.
Employers cannot require employees to exhaust other forms of paid time off prior to or during the use of PFML. An employee who has taken family or medical leave shall be restored to the employee’s previous position or to an equivalent position, with the same status, pay, employment benefits, length of service credit and seniority as of the date of leave. Taking this leave shall not affect an employee’s right to accrue vacation time, sick leave, bonuses, advancement, seniority, length of service credit or other employment benefits, plans or programs.
Employers are required to notify employees and covered individuals of the PFML in two ways:
- post a PFML posting in the workplace by July 1, 2019; and
- provide a written notice to employees and independent contractors on or before June 30, 2019.
The written notices, which may be provided electronically or in paper form, must include the opportunity for an employee or independent contractor to acknowledge receipt or decline to acknowledge receipt of the information. Individuals hired or contracted after June 30, 2019, must be given the notice within 30 days of their first day of employment. The Department of Family and Medical Leave has released notice templates for employers to provide to each employee and independent contractor. These notices can be assessed from our Free Labor Law Compliance Postings webpage. Employers that choose to create their own notice, must ensure the notice includes the following:
- an explanation of the availability of family and medical leave benefits;
- the employee’s contribution amount and obligations;
- the employer’s contribution amount and obligations;
- the employer’s name and address and the identification number assigned by the Department of Family and Medical Leave; and
- instructions on how to file for a claim for family and medical benefits.
The Department of Family and Medical Leave has published draft regulations regarding the PFML and is currently soliciting comments from the public. The final regulations are expected to be released by July 1, 2019. CPC will reformat Massachusetts products to add the new PFML posting, and shipping will begin June 1, 2019. CPC will continue to monitor developments under the new law.