As previously reported, last week the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (“DFML”) announced several changes, both substantive and procedural, to the state’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program (“PFML”). This week, the DFML has provided further guidance on changes to the worker notice requirements, issued new workplace posters, and posted the final regulations.
Updates to Notice Requirement
As part of its June 14, 2019 announcement, the DFML changed the deadline for employers to provide required notices to workers for a second time, now setting the deadline for September 30, 2019. The DFML issued the new model notices this week in English, and we anticipate the other languages will follow soon.
If an employer provided written notices to its workforce prior to the June 14, 2019 announcement, the employer must now provide an addendum sheet, which explains the updated program dates and contribution rates. The addendum will be provided by the DFML this week.
The DFML has provided additional guidance as to the procedures for the worker acknowledgement component of the required notices. As we previously reported, one component of the required notices provided to both W-2 and 1099-MISC workers is the requirement that employers obtain either a written acknowledgment of the receipt of the notice, or a statement indicating the worker’s refusal to acknowledge the notice. When a worker fails to acknowledge receipt of the notice, the DFML will consider the employer or covered business entity to have fulfilled its notice obligation, as long as the employer can establish that it provided each member of its current workforce with the notice and an opportunity to acknowledge, or decline to acknowledge, receipt of said notice. The DFML clarified that employers should not send the notices, addendums, or acknowledgment forms to the DFML, but should instead retain them pursuant to the employer’s document retention policy.
New Poster Information
The English and Spanish versions of the new workplace poster are now available, and the DFML states that additional translations will be available this week. Employers are required to provide the poster in English and in each language that is the primary language of five or more individuals in the employer’s workforce if the posters are available from the DFML.
The DFML has also released an unofficial version of the final regulations, which offer guidance on the rights and responsibilities of both employers and employees under the state’s PFML. The official version of the final regulations will be available from the Secretary of State’s Office on or before July 1, 2019. We will have a follow-up post reviewing any substantive changes to the regulations.
What Massachusetts Employers Should Do Now
In addition to the steps we have previously suggested, Massachusetts employers should consider the following actions:
- If PFML notices were already provided, issue the addendum.
- If PFML notices were not provided, use new templates to prepare notices.
- Post the new English workplace poster and the Spanish poster if applicable, and monitor the DFML website for any other relevant posters
- Ensure that there is a system in place for retention of all documents related to the notices to workers.
- Regularly check the DFML website for updates.
- Consider attending an educational session on the PFML. There are currently three scheduled educational sessions: in Dartmouth on June 24, 2019; in Rockland on June 26, 2019; and in Springfield on June 28, 2019.