PFML Implementation Dates Delayed

On June 11, 2019, Gov. Baker, along with state House and Senate leadership, announced an agreement to implement a three-month delay to the July 1 contribution start date for the state’s Paid Family and Medical Leave (MA PFML) program. Gov. Baker and the legislative leaders issued this statement:

To ensure businesses have adequate time to implement the state’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program, the House, Senate, and Administration have agreed to adopt a three-month delay to the start of required contributions to the program. We will also adopt technical changes to clarify program design. We look forward to the successful implementation of this program this fall.

In response, on June 13, 2019, the MA legislature passed an emergency bill to formalize the delay; Gov. Baker signed the bill (creating Chapter 21) on June 14, 2019. In addition, on June 14, 2019, the MA Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) published a notice to MA employers regarding the MA PFML delay. As a result of those events, employers will be required to begin taking deductions from wages or payments for services rendered by employees (and contractors) and start paying their portion of MA PFML costs on October 1, 2019 (rather than the original date of July 1, 2019). MA PFML benefits are not actually available until January 2021 — that effective date is not altered by this three-month delay announcement. Along with the delay and to offset the shorter period for collections, the DFML employer notice states that the contribution rate has been adjusted from 0.63% to 0.75% of wages. That will raise the tax for an employee earning the state average weekly wage from $872 to $1,083 per year.

The DFML also announced several other related extensions. First, employers now have until September 30, 2019, to notify all covered individuals (employees and contractors) regarding their MA PFML rights and obligations. DFML is in the process of updating model notices, and will post them on the PFML website when they’re available. Second, employers that offer paid leave benefits that are at least as generous as those required under MA PFML may apply for an exemption from the obligation to remit contributions. Employers now have until December 20, 2019, to apply for an exemption for contributions relating to the October 1 contribution period.

The DFML also published the PFML final regulations. The delay gives both employers and the MA government more time to prepare for MA PFML implementation, and time for carriers to potentially create private plans that can be exempted from the rules. In the meantime, employers should continue to prepare to comply with the MA PFML law, even with the slight delay in contributions. We will continue to monitor developments, including the posting and publishing of final regulations, and communicate accordingly.

Press Release »
Chapter 21 »
Notice to MA Employers About PFML Delay »
Final Regulations »