United States: Update On Deadlines And Employer Obligations Under The New Massachusetts PFML Act

David Santeusanio is a Partner and Stephanie Merabet is an Associate in Holland & Knight's Boston office

For an update to this alert, please read: " Massachusetts Delays Start of Required Paid Family and Medical Leave Contributions by 3 Months."

The Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (Department) continues to issue guidance on the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFML), which takes effect on July 1, 2019. Holland & Knight previously provided an overview of the law and addressed common questions regarding the PFML. (See Holland & Knight alerts, " Massachusetts and New Jersey Make Changes to Paid Leave Laws," Feb. 28, 2019, and " Questions and Answers on the New Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Law," April 8, 2019.)

This Holland & Knight alert provides an update on developments concerning the PFML and newly released information from the Department.

When Must an Employer Provide Its Workforce with Written Notice of PFML?

The Department recently extended its workforce notification deadline to June 30, 2019 (an extension from the prior deadline of May 31, 2019).

To comply with this requirement, an employer must provide its workforce with a written notice of their rights under the PFML. An employer may distribute this notice electronically. The Department has stated that a "read receipt" is not sufficient to constitute a written acknowledgment of receipt by the worker. An employer must obtain a written acknowledgment of receipt from each worker or a written statement indicating that the worker declines to acknowledge receipt of the information. The Department has indicated that it will consider an employer to have fulfilled its notice obligation if the employer can establish that it provided each member of its workforce with notice and the opportunity to acknowledge or decline to acknowledge receipt. Employers are required to provide written notice of PFML to all employees.

An employer must provide written notice to all 1099-MISC contractors if those contractors make up more than 50 percent of the employer's workforce. If the number of contractors does not meet this threshold, an employer is not required to provide them with written notice. Nevertheless, the Department recommends that all employers provide 1099-MISC contractors with written notice of PFML so that those contractors can decide whether they want to opt into the program, regardless of whether the employer meets the threshold.

An employer may elect to distribute the template notice to employees and a template notice to self-employed individuals published by the Department. If an employer creates its own notice, that notice must include the following information:

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

When Must an Employer Display the Workplace Poster?

While the Department extended the deadline for an employer to provide written notice to its workforce, it did not expressly extend the deadline for an employer to display the workplace poster. The Department has not expressed an opinion on whether the PFML poster must be displayed by the original May 31, 2019, deadline. Consequently, employers are encouraged to display the poster as soon as possible. Employers are required to display the poster where other workplace posters are displayed, in English and each language that is the primary language of five or more members of the workforce.

Employers may access the workplace poster published by the Department, "Notice of Benefits Available Under M.G.L. Chapter 175M Paid Family and Medical Leave," in English and translated in other languages.

When Must an Employer Apply for a Private Plan Exemption?

The Department also recently extended its deadline for employers to apply for a private plan exemption to Sept. 20, 2019 (an extension from the prior deadline of June 30, 2019). This extension only impacts an employer's contribution requirements if the exemption request is approved. If the Department denies the request, the employer will be required to remit the full contribution amount, based on what it would have owed starting July 1, 2019, when PFML contributions begin.

Can an Employer Apply for a Partial Exemption?

Yes. The Department has clarified that an employer may apply for a private plan exemption from the PFML's Family Leave Program and Medical Leave Program or both. The Department considers an employer's application for a private plan exemption based on the employer's FEIN. Accordingly, in order for an employer's private plan to be approved, it must apply equally to all covered individuals in the employer's workforce, including employees in other business locations, and not be limited to certain groups of employees.

What Must an Employer Do to Obtain a Private Plan Exemption?

To receive a private plan exemption, the benefits offered by an employer's private plan must be greater than or equal to the benefits provided by PFML. This means an employer's private plan must provide workers with the same or greater paid leave benefits as provided under the law, as well as job protection while the worker is on leave, continued employer contributions to employment-related health insurance benefits, and the ability to take leave intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule, for a prorated benefit amount. Further, according to the Department's guidance, the employer's private plan must specifically state that "all presumptions shall be made in favor of the availability of leave and the payment of leave benefits."

In addition to these benefit requirements, an employer's private plan must be covered by a bond, valued based on the size of the employer's workforce. For every 25 covered individuals, an employer is required to post a surety bond valued at:

  • $19,000 for qualifying family leave plans
  • $51,000 for qualifying medical leave plans, or
  • $70,000 for qualifying plans for both family and medical

An employer considering private plan exemptions should review the list of questions employers will be asked during the application process, which the Department recently published. The Department will continue to accept applications for private plan exemptions on a rolling basis, but applications must be approved in the quarter prior to the quarter in which the exemptions go into effect. Once an application is submitted, the Department anticipates issuing a determination within one to two business days.

How Will Employers Estimate PFML Contributions?

To help employers estimate the amount of their required contributions, which may aid in determining whether a private plan exemption is more cost-effective, the Department released a Paid Family and Medical Leave Contribution Calculator.

Are Payroll Deductions Made on a Pre-Tax or Post-Tax Basis?

The tax treatment for both employer and employee PFML contributions is governed by federal tax law. The Department has requested guidance from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regarding the tax implications of PFML payroll deductions, but recommends that employers consult with their tax advisors until the IRS provides guidance. The Department has stated that based on its review of federal rules and following consultation with the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, it anticipates that the IRS will conclude that employee contributions should be withheld from after-tax wages.

What Is the Status of the Final Regulations?

The Department has held public hearings and the public comment period has ended. The Department anticipates publishing the final regulations in advance of the July 1, 2019, deadline, when the regulations will take effect. Holland & Knight will issue an update once the final regulations are published.

What Is the Current Timeline for Implementation?

Based on the updates provided by the Department, here is an overview of key upcoming dates:

  • Now: Display the "Notice of Benefits Available Under M.G.L. Chapter 175M Paid Family and Medical Leave" poster in a conspicuous location where other workplace posters are located.
  • June 30, 2019: Distribute written notices to employees and 1099-MISC contractors, and obtain written acknowledgments from those workers recognizing their receipt (or a statement indicating the individual's refusal to sign such acknowledgment).
  • July 1, 2019: Payroll deductions begin; the Department will issue final regulations before July 1.
  • Sept. 20, 2019: Deadline for employers to apply for private plan exemptions for the Family Leave Program and the Medical Leave Program or both.
  • Oct. 31, 2019: Deadline for employers to submit contributions from July to September and complete quarterly reports through MassTaxConnect based on its Massachusetts workforce (including all employees and all 1099-MISC contractors, even if they make up less than 50 percent of the workforce). In the quarterly report, employers must disclose the workers' names, social security numbers and all wages and/or compensation paid. The Department has indicated that it will release more specific reporting and documentation guidelines prior to July 1.
  • Jan. 1, 2021: Paid family leave benefits available for bonding with a new child, service member-related leave and for serious personal health conditions.
  • July 1, 2021: Paid family leave benefits available for a family member's serious health condition.

Holland & Knight will continue to monitor newly released information from the Department and will provide further updates as more information becomes available.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions