Guidance Released on Notifying Employees of Paid Family and Medical Leave by May 31, 2019

On April 18, the Department of Family and Medical Leave (“Department”) released guidance on the notifications that must be provided to employees under the Paid Family Medical Leave Act, G. L. c. 175M (“Act”), by May 31. The guidance lists the information that must be included in the notice, which must be given to each employee in paper or electronic form, and includes a template. This notice must be given in addition to displaying a mandatory poster in the workplace regarding paid family and medical leave. Failure to provide the required notifications may result in a fine of $50 per employee for the first violation and $300 per employee for subsequent violations.

As a quick recap, beginning in 2021, nearly all employees in Massachusetts will be eligible for up to 20 weeks of paid medical leave and 12 weeks of paid family leave per year under the Act. However, employers need to begin making preparations now. In addition to notifying employees, employers must take other steps within deadlines set by the Department, including beginning to make payroll deductions by July 1, as explained in our prior posts. We recently covered the Department’s draft regulations for public comment, which shed light on some of these obligations.

The Department’s recently-issued notice guidance clarifies that the written notice to be provided to each employee by May 31 must include:

  • 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 mailing address;
  • the employer identification number assigned by the Department;
  • instructions on how to file a claim for family and medical leave benefits; and
  • the mailing address, email address, and telephone number of the Department.

Employers may use the notice template provided by the Department, but must fill in their specific information and contribution rates. The Department’s website has a tool to help employers calculate their contribution rates.

The notice must also allow the employee to acknowledge receipt of the notice, which may be given in paper or electronic form. All employees working for the employer as of June 1 must be notified, and all new employees must be notified within thirty (30) days of their first day of employment. A similar notice must also be provided to individuals with whom employers contract whose payments are required to be reported on IRS Form 1099-MISC upon entering into the contract.

The Department’s website provides further guidance on the quickly approaching rollout of paid family and medical leave in Massachusetts.

We will continue to monitor developments in this area. Employers with questions about the Act and how they should proceed to ensure they will be in compliance throughout its phased implementation should contact one of Conn Kavanaugh’s experienced employment lawyers.

CATHERINE M. DIVITA

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