Massachusetts employers should again be gearing up to make deductions from their workers’ pay under the state’s new law on family and medical leave. Contributions begin on wages paid on or after October 1, 2019. Unlike the previously announced start date, this time it appears there will not be a delay.
The statute was passed last year to provide paid benefits to qualified employees for medical or family leaves. All workers who contribute to the system will be eligible to apply for leave with pay to cover absences for their own serious medical conditions or those of certain family members, including service members. They can also seek leave for family situations such as the birth or adoption of a child. Payments will be administered by a newly created Department of Family and Medical Leave. Though benefits are not available to employees until 2021, the Department is collecting funds starting next month in order to build the financial resources needed to make payments.
The initial contribution rate is .75% of the first roughly $132,000 in wages paid to employees and, in some cases, to independent contractors. Responsibility for the payments is divided roughly equally between employers and employees under a formula created by the Department. For employers with an average of fewer than 25 employees – part-time, full-time and seasonal – no contributions are required. Those companies must still, however, submit the employee portion of contributions (roughly .378% of wages paid). Employers can take all or some of the funds from worker pay as they see fit. The first payments along with a required report on the make-up of each employer’s workforce is due in January 2020.
Notice to workers must be delivered by September 30, 2019, and the Department has created forms for doing so. Employers are also required to hang an informational poster in their workplaces.