Massachusetts Paid Family & Medical Leave Update
While we remain focused on the response to and consequences of COVID-19, there are other important developments to remain aware of.
On May 8, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) published proposed amendments to the Paid Family and Medical Leave regulations which codify prior guidance regarding covered contract workers, clarify the requirements for private plan exemptions, provide further information regarding applications for benefits and reductions to benefit amounts, and add definitions for several previously undefined terms.
The Proposed Regulations:
amend the definition of “covered contract worker” to state properly classified Independent Contractors are not covered contract workers for PFML purposes. They include the following criteria: the worker (i) performs services as an individual entity in Massachusetts, (ii) resides in Massachusetts, and (iii) is not classified as an independent contractor pursuant to the unemployment statute (M.G.L. c. 151A, § 2);
provide some clarity regarding applications for exemptions through a private plan. First, they clarify that while employers may apply for an exemption from medical leave, family leave, or both, they may not apply for an exemption that only covers a portion of their workforce;
further clarify how covered individuals will apply for benefits through the DFML. First, covered individuals must provide notice of their need for leave to their employer prior to applying for benefits with the DFML;
state benefits will also be reduced by any benefits received from an employer through an approved, exempted private plan or any wages received from “another employer or covered business entity or through self-employment”;
provide that any employer or covered entity that failed to properly assess the allowable deduction from a covered individual’s wages may not seek repayment from the covered individual
Also added is a definition for “accrued paid leave” and a clarified definition of “good cause” which is defined as “a failure to comply with a requirement . . . due to circumstances beyond the party’s control.” This proposal also clarifies that “substance abuse disorders” are not considered a serious health condition for purposes of paid medical leave unless they require inpatient hospital care or complications develop.
The DFML will be announcing a hearing schedule to discuss the revised regulations shortly.