Below is a quick overview of the changes, which will be rolled out over the next five years:
Paid Family and Medical Leave
Under the new program, all Massachusetts employers, regardless of size, will be required to provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of paid family leave per year; up to 20 weeks of paid medical leave per year; or a maximum of 26 weeks of combined paid family/medical leave.
An employee may take paid family leave for any of the following reasons:
- To bond with a child during the first 12 months after birth, or the first 12 months after the placement of the child for adoption or foster care.
- To care for a family member with a serious health condition.
- Because of any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that a family member is on active duty or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty in the Armed Forces.
- To care for a family member who is a covered service member with a serious injury or illness incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.
The program defines a “family member” as an employee’s spouse or domestic partner, child, parent or parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling.
An employee may take paid medical leave due to their own serious health condition, which is defined under the program as an illness, injury, impairment or physical or mental condition that involves impatient care in a hospital, hospice or residential medical care facility; or a condition that requires continuing treatment by a health care provider.
The program will be administered by a newly appointed Department of Family and Medical Leave within the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. To provide funds for paid leave, employers and employees will contribute to a new Family and Medical Leave Trust Fund, via a mandatory 0.63 payroll tax—which will be split 50-50 between employers and employees. (Employers with fewer than 25 employees will not be required to contribute, but they will still be required to provide paid leave to eligible employees).
After a 7-day waiting period, employees on paid leave will earn 80% of their wages up to 50% of the state average weekly wage, plus 50% of their wages above that amount, up to a maximum of $850 per week.
By July 1, 2019, employers are required to inform employees of their new rights through a workplace poster and new hire notice, and must begin remitting contributions to the Family and Medical Leave Trust Fund. On January 1, 2021, workers may begin receiving paid family and medical leave benefits.
Minimum Wage, Time-and-a-Half, and Sales Tax Holiday
The bill also outlines a 5-year plan to increase the state’s basic minimum wage from $11 to $15 per hour, and tipped workers’ minimum wage from $3.75 to $6.75 per hour.
On January 1, 2019, the minimum wage will increase to $12 per hour, then will increase by $0.75 each January 1st until it reaches $15 per hour in 2023. Similarly, on January 1, 2019, tipped workers’ minimum wage will increase to $4.35 per hour, then will increase by $0.60 each January 1st until it reaches $6.75 per hour in 2023.
Time-and-a-half pay on Sundays and holidays will also be phased out over the next five years. Additionally, the state will institute an annual two-day sales tax holiday in August.
What do you think about the new laws? If you have any questions about to prepare to adopt the changes, or how your business will be impacted, please leave a comment below or feel free to reach out to me directly. I'm happy to help!