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Massachusetts agency posts final paid leave regulations

The Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave has issued its final regulations for the landmark paid family and medical leave law the state enacted last year.

The department promulgated the new rules to clarify procedures, practices and policies in the administration and enforcement of the Family and Medical Leave Law, M.G.L. c. 175M.

The new regulations codified at 458 CMR 2.00 address issues such as the determination of covered businesses and covered contract workers, required contributions to the Family and Employment Security Trust Fund, exemptions for private plans, claims for benefits, and the DFML’s procedures for approval of claims.

The law was enacted as part of omnibus legislation signed by Gov. Charlie Baker in June 2018. Under the law, most workers in the state will be eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid family leave and up to 20 weeks of paid medical leave beginning in January 2021. The statute calls for benefits to be funded by premiums paid by employees, employers and the self-employed.

The statute originally set July 1, 2019, as the start date for the collection of premiums or “contributions” through payroll deductions.

However, on June 14 the Legislature passed S.2255 to delay until October the start of payroll contributions to fund the estimated $800 million program.

To adjust for the shorter period for collections caused by the three-month delay, the DFML announced that the total contribution rate has been adjusted from .63 percent to .75 percent of employee qualifying earnings. The department said the adjustment will ensure that full funding will be in place for the commencement of benefit payments in 2021.

In addition to the start date for required PFML contributions being moved to Oct. 1, employers now have until Sept. 30 to notify all covered individuals of their rights and obligations under the landmark law. Before this most recent change, the department had already moved the deadline for employer notice from May 31 to June 30.

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