On June 28, 2018, Massachusetts signed into law a paid family and medical leave law, joining California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, Washington D.C., and Washington State.Massachusetts's law will begin providing benefits in 2021 and will cover nearly all private sector employees as follows:
- Employees will be eligible for up to 12 weeks of job-protected paid family leave in a benefit year to bond with a new child, to care for a seriously ill loved one, or to address the impact of a family member's military deployment.
- Employees will be eligible for up to 26 weeks of paid family leave in a benefit year if the leave is taken to care for a covered servicemember.
- Employees will be be eligible for up to 20 weeks of paid medical leave for their own own serious medical needs.
Other key provisions are summarized below (subject to regulatory clarification):
- Effective July 1, 2019, employers will be required to post a notice of benefits and provide an explanation of benefits, including instructions on how to file a claim. Failure to comply with these notice requirements will result in penalties of $50 per employee for the first violation; $300 per employee for each subsequent violation.
- Also beginning July 1, 2019, Massachusetts employers will contribute to the Family and Employment Security Trust Fund at an initial contribution rate of 0.63% of each employee's wages. For employers with 25 or more employees in Massachusetts, while the employer must remit the full contribution to the Trust Fund, for medical leave, the employer may deduct up to 40% of the contribution from the employee's wages; and for family leave, the employer may deduct up to 100% of the contribution from the employee's wages.
- Effective July 1, 2021, workers will be able to take family or medical leave and file claims with the Department for medical or family leave benefits. After the 7-day waiting period, workers may receive wage replacement from the state Trust Fund equal to 80% of their wages up to 50% of the state average weekly wage, and then 50% of their wages above that amount, up to an $850/week cap.
- Intermittent leave or reduced schedule leave, paid on a prorated basis, may be taken "when medically necessary" for a medical leave for the worker's own serious health condition, for a family leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or for injured servicemember family leave.
In addition to MA Leave being paid, notable differences from the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) include:
- All Massachusetts employees will be eligible for paid family or medical leave under the state law, regardless of length of service with the employer or hours worked; and
- In addition to the family members included under the federal FMLA, "family member" includes a worker's domestic partner, grandchildren, grandparents, and siblings, as well as the parents of a spouse or domestic partner.
As part of the same law, the MA will gradually raise the state minimum wage from the current $11 per hour to $15 per hour by 2023.
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