Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave Sets New Deadline for Employee Notices and Extends Deadline for Private Plan Exemption Applications

Bowing to pressure from the business community, the Department of Family and Medical Leave (Department) recently set a new deadline of June 30, 2019 for employers to provide written notice of the paid family and medical leave program to employees. The Department also extended the initial filing deadline for private plan exemption to September 20, 2019.

Notice to Employees. Employee notices must be in writing and delivered either on paper or electronically to employees no later than June 30, 2019. An electronic notice must include an opportunity for an employee or self-employed individual to acknowledge or decline to acknowledge receipt of the information. Employers may receive the acknowledgements in paper form or electronically. In addition to the written employee notice, employers must display the Department’s Paid Family and Medical Leave workplace poster in a highly-visible location. The poster, which is available is 13 languages, can be found here.

Applications for Private Plan Exemption. The Department began accepting applications for private plan exemption on April 29, 2019. An employer that offers paid family or medical leave to its employees through a private plan may be exempt from participating in the Department’s paid family leave program, paid medical leave program, or both. To qualify for exemption, the employer’s private plan benefits must be equal to or more generous than the benefits available under the Department’s public plan. Exemption approval means the employer is not required to collect, remit and pay contributions to the Department for public plan benefits. Approved exemptions must be renewed annually.

The web-based application for exemption is available on the MassTaxConnect website. Applications are due by September 20, 2019 for the July 1st — September 30th quarter. However, if the Department denies an application filed after July 1, 2019, then the employer must submit public program contributions, including employee contributions, to the Department for the entire quarter. The Department has not indicated whether an employer must collect employee contributions beginning July 1, 2019 even though the employer intends to apply for an exemption after that date.

The Department takes 1-2 days to process each application for exemption and notify the employer. Employers may preview the application form, which is posted on the Department’s website, before filing.

Self-insured applicants must include a bond of the appropriate value with their applications. The required value of a bond will vary depending upon the type of leave plan (family or medical or both) and the number of employees covered by the plan. The minimum bond values set forth below increase for every 25 employees covered by an exempt plan:

  • $19,000 per 25 employees for a family leave plan
  • $51,000 per 25 employees for a medical leave plan
  • $70,000 per 25 employees for medical and family leave plans

The Department provides examples of bond value calculations on its website.

To assist employers with the application process, the Department has updated its exemption webpage, which is available here.

For additional information about the new Family and Medical Leave law and its implementation, please refer to Arent Fox’s three recent alerts on this subject found here, here, and here.

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