The Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (the “Department”) has issued a series of updates concerning Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave (“MAPFML”). These updates reflect the latest changes made to MAPFML since the Department’s last quarterly briefing, as discussed in our prior coverage of the MAPFML.
The Department has issued publications on a number of different topics to answer questions that employers may have concerning their responsibilities under MAPFML. This includes:
- Switching between private paid plans and PFML covers the transition between public and private plans, such as the logistical steps an employer must follow in moving from a private plan to the state-managed public fund, the associated exemption terms and penalties on employers for doing so, and the impact on employee leaves during such transition.
- Insurance carriers’ guide to PFML provides information to employers about private plan benefit requirements, the required notice to provide employees, details about tax withholdings, and the process for annual renewals.
- PFML frequently asked questions for employers details general information about PFML, the application process, reviewing employee applications, managing paid time off and payments, and tracking other leave and income.
The Department also released a variety of resources for employee use, in order to understand their benefits under PFML.
- Check the status of your Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) payments provides employees with an approved applications link to the portal to view payment history and the estimated date of their next payment, along with the reasons why payments may be delayed or cancelled.
- Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) for your PFML account adds another layer of security to PFML accounts, allowing individuals the opportunity to add a cell phone number in order to verify their identity before logging onto the account.
- Handout on other leave and income to report when applying for PFML details what other leave, benefits, or income employees should report (previous leave, such as FMLA; concurrent leave, such as PTO; concurrent income, such as disability, unemployment, social security, and workers’ compensation) and not report (previous leave, if taken pursuant to PFML; concurrent leave, such as PTO during the waiting week; concurrent income, such as supplemental insurance paid out of pocket) when applying for PFML.
- PFML frequently asked questions for employees discusses general information, eligibility, the application process, nuances related to taking family leave to bond with a child, payment and taxes, and how to modify a current approved leave.
- PFML frequently asked questions for health care providers provides general information about PFML, including how to fill out forms for patients requesting leave – such as the logistics of signing the form, determining the start and end dates of the medical condition and appropriate corresponding length of leave, and understanding what constitutes a serious medical condition.
The Department also updated the following previously published guidance for employer use.
- PFML workforce notifications and rate sheets for Massachusetts employers provides a link to the forms which all Massachusetts employers are required to distribute.
- Reimbursements for qualifying paid leave plans through PFML discusses reimbursement eligibility, payments that may be eligible for reimbursement, and the application process for organizations that do not qualify for an exemption but do offer other paid benefits.
- PFML employer contribution rates and calculator assists employers in determining the mandatory payroll withholdings they must make on behalf of their employees in order to comply with PFML.
- Using the leave administrator dashboard for PFML applications walks through how employers may best use the administrator dashboard to review PFML applications within the necessary 10-day timeframe, including how to filter and search amongst applications submitted.
In addition, employee resources have been updated accordingly.
- How leave and benefits can affect your PFML (holidays and commissions) discusses how commissions and bonuses should not be reported to the Department and will not cause a reduction in benefits for the week in which it is paid, while on the other hand, holiday pay is similar to other forms of PTO that do affect benefits under PFML.
- Health care provider responsibilities for PFML discusses who qualifies as a health care provider, defines what a serious health condition is, and details the role that health care providers play in medical and family leave applications.
- Filling out the Certification of Your Serious Health Condition provides instructions for health care providers who are filling out the form for patients applying under PFML for medical leave for their own serious health condition.
- Filling out the Certification of Your Family Member’s Serious Health Condition form provides instructions for health care providers who are filling out the form for patients applying under PFML for medical leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition.
- How PFML weekly benefit amounts are calculated discusses how weekly benefit amounts are calculated, using the employee’s individual average weekly wage and the state average weekly wage.
In light of the updated guidance, employers should consider their obligations to comply with PFML whether they participate in the state fund or establish a private plan, their process for granting and tracking PFML leave and related benefits, the integration with their Company-provided paid time off benefits (including the overlap of any Company-provided parental leave policies), and how to best inform their employees of their rights under MAPFML. Employers who participate in the state fund should also ensure that they meet the quarterly requirement to report employee information and remit contributions to the Department.
For more information on your obligations and rights under MAPFML, you can find our prior posts on MAPFML and employer responsibilities here, here, and here. We will continue to provide additional guidance on MAPFML as issued by the Department. Mintz’s Employment, Labor, and Benefits practice stands ready to assist with MAPFML questions or compliance concerns you may have.