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Massachusetts delays paid leave program

Photo of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (above) and legislative leaders agreed June 11 to delay for three months the implementation of a payroll tax to fund a paid family and medical leave program for private-sector workers.

The payroll tax of 0.63 percent was set to take effect July 1, but the Republican governor and Democratic Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Karen Spilka agreed that more time is needed.

“To ensure businesses have adequate time to implement the state’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program, the House, Senate and Administration have agreed to adopt a three-month delay to the start of required contributions to the program,” they said in a statement.

The legislature responded by quickly passing a bill authorizing the delay. Baker signed the measure June 13.

Complex requirements

The program is complex. (Here’s some guidance from the Holland & Knight law firm.) Employers must hang posters notifying employees of program details and send separate written notices to every employee. They must compile a list of eligible employees and contract workers. If they have more than 25 eligible employees, they will be required to contribute to the state family and medical leave fund. And they must make allowances for employees who request leave for covered purposes, which include a medical crisis, the need to care for a sick or injured family member, the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child, or military service.

Employers may apply for exemptions if they offer private family and medical leave plans.

Generous benefits

Legislation creating the state program was signed by the governor a year ago. It provides generous benefits, as described by the National Law Review:

“Beginning in 2021, eligible employees will be allowed to take the following leave in a benefit year (defined as the 52-consecutive week period beginning on the Sunday preceding the first day the protected leave begins):

  • Up to 20 weeks of job-protected paid medical leave to care for their own serious health condition;
  • Up to 12 weeks of job-protected paid family leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition, to bond with the employee’s child during the first 12 months after the child’s birth or the first 12 months after the placement of the child for adoption or foster care with the employee, or because of any qualifying exigency arising out of an employee’s family member being active duty or notification of an impending call or order to be in the Armed Forces; and
  • Up to 26 weeks of job-protected paid family leave to care for a covered servicemember.”

Contact Doug Clark at 916-757-1167 or dclark@myhfa.org, and read the Policy Matters blog. 

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