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MA Paid Family & Medical Leave Releases Final Regulations

On June 17, 2019, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) posted final regulations, now formally referred to as 458 CMR 2.00 (Code of Massachusetts Regulations), that went into effect as of July 1st.

The final regulations do not feature changes from the previous draft that was released by the Department. Most of the changes were adjustments made for clarification of processes and corrections in grammar. However, there were some changes that are worthy of noting for employers.

Definition of “Incapacity” clarified:

The standard for incapacity must now be linked to the job that the covered individual is performing; specifically, there must be “an inability to perform the functions of one’s position.” 

  • This clarification gives healthcare providers a more definitive guideline when determining if someone is incapacitated and unable to perform his or her own job. This definition is also more closely aligned with definitions found in group disability plans.

Definition of a “Child” broadened:

In previous drafts, the definition of a child, for the purpose of a qualified family leave, stated that a child “must be either under age 18, or, if age 18 or older, incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability at the time that the leave is to commence.” 

  • This language was removed from the final regulations and all children are now included under this provision.

Excluded classes of workers:

The final regulations clearly state that the definition of a covered worker is the same as M.G.L. 151A (unemployment statute). This statute allows for the exclusion of certain workers that are described in M.G.L. c. 151A, § 6. The following excluded categories were highlighted in a recent communication from DFML:

  • Real estate brokers/agents and insurance agents compensated by commissions only;
  • Employees of churches and certain religious organizations;
  • Services of work-study students, student nurses and interns (for credit);
  • If under 18, services performed for one’s father or mother; and
  • Employment in the railroad industry.

Ability to vary employer contributions within defined classes:

Employers with 25 or more employees must still make the minimum required contributions. However, an employer may choose to contribute toward a greater portion of the maximum allowed deduction to different classes of employees. For example, an employer may consider covering 100% of the medical leave contribution for employees, but only pay the minimum-required employer contribution for covered 1099 workers. However, we recommend discussing these options with a OneDigital | HR Consulting representative prior to implementation.

Key Dates Remain: Contribution funding will begin October 1, 2019, and Private Plan exemption applications are due by December 20, 2019.

Additional details regarding these regulations can be found here.

To learn more on the MA Paid Family & Medical Leave law, or other FMLA laws that might affect your business, contact your local OneDigital Strategist.