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June 13, 2019

Start Delayed for Required Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Contributions

On June 11, 2019, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Senate President Karen Spilka, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo announced an agreement to delay the start of employer contributions to the new Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program from July 1, 2019, to October 1, 2019. In a joint statement, they announced:

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.

A payroll tax of .63 percent is set to take effect on July 1. Although the joint statement is helpful guidance, an emergency bill will have to pass both branches of the legislature before the delay is official. Commentators expect the contribution rate will increase from .63 percent to .75 percent to make up for lost contributions due to the delay.

The January 1, 2021, and July 1, 2021, effective dates for the commencement of leave benefits will remain unchanged.

Other proposed technical amendments would clarify intermittent leave and the definition of “serious health condition.” The clarifying amendments will also align core principles of the Massachusetts PFML law with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

There has been no guidance from the Department of Family and Medical Leave germane to any delay of the June 30 deadline for the mandatory notices to be distributed to employees and covered contract workers. With that in mind, it would be wise for employers to distribute the notices by that deadline.

Barclay Damon will continue to monitor developments concerning the PFML program and will provide further updates as more information becomes available. For additional information about employer obligations under the law, see Barclay’s Damon’s prior alerts “Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave: Coming Soon,” March 18, 2019; “Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Law: Key Dates for Employers, ” April 5, 2019; and “Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave Law: Employer Notification Obligations,” May 13, 2019.

If you have any questions regarding the content of this alert, please contact Carolyn Marcotte, counsel, at or Brian Whiteley, partner, at, or another member of the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice Area.

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