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Update: Paid Family and Medical Leave Act

Things continue to progress with respect to implementation of the new Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA). Click here for a summary of the key provisions of the law. A new agency, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) has been formed to implement and administer the PFMLA, and they have created a helpful and user-friendly website.

A New Cause of Action: Massachusetts High Court Rules That Denying A Lateral Transfer Request Could Constitute Discrimination

On January 29, 2019, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that failing to grant a lateral transfer for discriminatory reasons may constitute an “adverse employment action” that violates Massachusetts law, G.L. c. 151B. An employee may therefore be able to recover for illegal discrimination even if the position requested provides exactly the same base salary and benefits as his or her current position. The decision expands the scope of potential discrimination claims under Massachusetts law and may make it more difficult for employers to prevail on motions for summary judgment.

Massachusetts Releases Draft Regulations, Contribution Rates for State Paid Family and Medical Leave

The Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave has released draft regulations for the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (G.L. c. 175M). The proposed regulations, released on January 23, 2019, track many of the statute’s requirements. In addition to the draft regulations, the Department provided information on the amounts employers must contribute into the Trust Fund that will finance these paid leaves.

Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave Releases Proposed Regulations

On January 23, 2019, the newly-created Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (Department) released proposed regulations clarifying the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees under the new Massachusetts Family and Medical Leave Law (MFMLL). The MFMLL will require all private employers in Massachusetts to provide covered individuals with paid family and medical leave funded through a payroll tax.1 Under the proposed regulations, it appears that the Department will be responsible for, among other things, making decisions about whether to approve employees for paid leave under the MFMLL once the law goes into effect on January 1, 2021.

Massachusetts’s New Requirements for Calculating Tipped Employees’ Wages

In June 2018, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law An Act Relative to Minimum Wage, Paid Family Medical Leave and the Sales Tax Holiday. As one part of the so-called “grand bargain” legislation, effective January 1, 2019, Massachusetts employers with tipped employees are now required to calculate tipped employees’ wages at the end of each shift instead of at the end of each pay period. This change not only presents an additional administrative challenge but also makes it more likely that employers will be required to pay employees additional amounts to ensure that they receive at least minimum wage during slow shifts.

Massachusetts Sets Date for Publication of Draft Regulations on Paid Family and Medical Leave

The newly-created Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave has stated that it plans to publish draft regulations for the recently enacted Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Law no later than January 23, 2019. In addition, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave has scheduled a number of public listening sessions on the draft regulations throughout the state, beginning with a session in Boston on January 30, 2019. A complete list of these public listening sessions can be found at this link.

Check Please: New Requirements for Massachusetts Tipped Employees

The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office recently published guidance regarding how a new tipped-employee law is to be applied. Employers must now compare the tips earned by an employee, plus the service rate, to the full minimum wage at the end of each shift and pay any shortfall to the employee. This change went into effect January 1, 2019.

Massachusetts Rings in the New Year with Tweaks to Tip Credit Rules and Changes to Sunday/Holiday Premiums

As you may remember, it was Christmas in July for employees when Massachusetts passed the “Grand Bargain,” among other things, putting the Commonwealth on a path to a $15.00 minimum wage. When the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2019, however, not only did the minimum wage increase to $12.00 per hour, but there was a significant change to the way employers calculate the tip credit and a decrease to the Sunday/Holiday mandatory premium rate that, though favorable, actually might complicate matters.

MA Minimum Wage Increases and an Update on Paid Leave

Beginning on January 1, 2019, the Massachusetts minimum wage will be raised from $11.00 to $12.00, part of a tiered effort that will raise the Commonwealth’s minimum wage to $15.00 by 2023. Similarly, the tipped minimum wage increases from $3.75 to $4.35 on January 1 and will likewise continue to increase yearly until it reaches $6.75 in 2023. Under the new law, retail employees’ Sunday time rate will decrease from time-and-a-half to one and four-tenths the employee’s regular rate. The rate will decrease yearly until it is gradually eliminated in 2023.

Massachusetts Poised To Up The Ante In Labor Disputes Amid 6-Month Lockout

Massachusetts legislators have taken steps to immediately enhance the Commonwealth’s unemployment compensation regime for locked-out employees of gas and electric companies. In light of the 6-month standoff at National Grid, the gas and electric utility that serves much of Massachusetts, the House of Representatives just passed a bill today that would extend an employee’s unemployment eligibility indefinitely for the duration of any lockout, with their employer footing 100 percent of the cost. Where do we expect this legislation to go from here, and what do Massachusetts employers need to know about this development?