Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Update: Template Notices for Employees, Extension of Deadlines, and Requested Guidance From the IRS

Here is the latest information on the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFML) requirements since our last report on April 17, 2019. As the date for issuing final regulations and starting employer contributions draws near, the Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) continues to publish updates.

Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave: What Employers Need to Know Before July 1, 2019

Last year, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law what has been referred to as the “grand bargain” legislation. When it was enacted, we covered some of the law’s key provisions that would have a significant impact on Massachusetts employers, including the phase-in of paid family and medical leave under the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFML). Since then, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML), a new agency, has been established under the PFML to manage paid leave in the Commonwealth.

Massachusetts Attorney General Issues Guidance on New Equal Pay Law

On March 1, 2018, the Massachusetts Attorney General (AG) issued detailed guidance on the amendments to the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (MEPA), which are set to go into effect on July 1, 2018. The amendments, which were enacted in 2016, will overhaul MEPA, a law that has been in effect for over 70 years, and make it one of the strictest pay equity laws in the nation.

A Closer Look at Massachusetts’s Pay Equity Law

We recently reported on the sweeping pay equity legislation that garnered much attention throughout the most recent legislative session in Massachusetts. After much anticipation, this week Governor Charlie Baker signed the Act to Establish Pay Equity, a significant law that will affect all employers with employees in the state. The final version of the law will go into effect on July 1, 2018, giving employers ample breathing room to analyze and assess their compliance and consider conducting pay equity self-evaluations as outlined in the law.

Massachusetts Governor Signs Expansive Pay Equity Law

As we recently anticipated, on August 1, 2016 Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law sweeping legislation that significantly modifies Massachusetts’s equal pay laws. Many consider the new law to be the most comprehensive and aggressive pay equity law in the nation.  The law as signed is substantially similar to that discussed in our July 29 blog post, but contains some relatively minor language revisions and technical changes to the new affirmative defense afforded to employers that conduct internal pay equity audits.

Massachusetts Nearing Enactment of Sweeping Pay Equity Legislation

Continuing a trend, Massachusetts is poised to implement major changes to its equal pay laws. Following the lead of California, New York, and Maryland, which each enacted expansive equal pay laws in the last few months, Massachusetts is now nearing issuance of similarly broad legislation that will make litigating such cases significantly less challenging for plaintiffs.

Maryland Passes New Pay Equity Law

Maryland recently passed into law sweeping revisions to its existing equal pay law. The new law, signed by Governor Hogan on May 19, 2016, will take effect on October 1, 2016. With the passage of the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, Maryland joins California and New York in expanding pay equity protections. The act significantly amend the current statute, Md. Code, Labor and Employment, §3-301, et seq. and expands both the scope of the law and its remedies.

Massachusetts Sick Leave Law—Full Compliance Deadline Looming

Massachusetts voters approved a new sick leave law that went into effect on July 1, 2015. Many employers with preexisting leave policies, however, took advantage of the so-called “safe harbor” provision in the law and its implementing regulations that allowed those employers to delay full implementation until January 1, 2016, as long as they complied with certain general provisions of the law. This safe harbor expires on January 1, 2016—so employers that relied on the safe harbor rules must now put in place new policies to comply with the sick leave law.

Massachusetts Attorney General Issues Final Earned Sick Leave Regulations With Substantial Revisions

The July 1, 2015 effective date of the Massachusetts earned sick leave law is looming. In summary, the new law provides that employers of 11 or more employees must provide their Massachusetts employees with job-protected paid sick leave accrued at a rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked, while smaller employers must provide the same amount of unpaid sick leave. The law permits employees to take sick leave for the following…

Massachusetts Voters Approve Paid Sick Leave Measure

On November 4, 2014, Massachusetts voters approved by a decisive margin (approximately 60 percent in favor) a new measure requiring employers to provide sick leave to all employees (with certain limited exceptions regarding federal or municipal employers). The new law further provides for paid sick leave for workers employed by…..

Massachusetts Wage Act Release Must Be Clear and Specific

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently addressed a significant issue to Massachusetts employers—whether general releases can bar employees from bringing Wage Act claims against their employers. Crocker v. Townsend Oil Co. Inc., No. SJC-11059 (December 17, 2012). Charles Edward Crocker and Joseph Barrasso worked as delivery truck drivers for Townsend Oil…..

New Developments in Rhode Island

Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee recently signed into law legislation entitled the “Homeless Bill of Rights.” Specifically, the new law protects individuals solely because of their homeless status in a variety of ways. The most significant protection, from an employer’s perspective, is that the statute effectively creates a new protected category for purposes of employment discrimination.

Meal Break Violations Cost A Massachusetts Retailer Almost $500,000

A recent settlement of almost $500,000 to resolve allegations of meal break violations between a San Francisco based children’s clothing retailer and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office serves as a reminder to employers of the importance of the Massachusetts meal break law. The Gymboree Corporation agreed to pay $463,600 to resolve all outstanding claims raised by the Attorney General.

Massachusetts Passes Legislation to Protect Gender Identity

On November 16, 2011, the Massachusetts legislature passed a transgender anti-discrimination bill, which Governor Deval Patrick is expected to sign into law this week. If the bill is signed by the Governor, “gender identity” will become a protected category under Massachusetts non-discrimination statutes. The new law also will add gender identity as a protected category to several laws intended to protect people from hate crimes and harassment.