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More than 3,000 employers seek Mass. leave law exemption

More than 3,000 employers have asked a Massachusetts agency to be excluded from the state’s new Family and Medical Leave Program, opting instead to find a private alternative or a way to offer their workers the same benefits themselves.

By the Dec. 20 deadline for employers to file for private plan exemptions from first-quarter payroll tax contributions, the state’s Department of Family and Medical Leave received 3,414 exemption applications, a department spokesman said.

To be approved for an exemption, an employer must show the state that it offers its employees benefits that are greater than or equal to the benefits provided by the new program and must not cost workers any more than they would be required to contribute to the state plan.

Part of the June 2018 “grand bargain” enacted in Massachusetts, the new leave law calls for up to 12 weeks of job-protected paid leave to care for a seriously ill or injured family member, to care for a new child, or to meet family needs arising from a family member’s active-duty military service. It also authorizes up to 20 weeks of job-protected paid leave to recover from a worker’s own serious illness or injury, or to care for a seriously ill or injured service member.

Benefits will become available on Jan. 1, 2021, for workers seeking time off to bond with a new child, take care of a sick or injured service member, or to tend to a serious personal health condition. On July 1, 2021, benefits will be made available for workers to care for a family member with a serious health condition.

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