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Massachusetts Extends Deadlines for PFMLA Notice to Employees and Private Plan Exemptions

In an effort to help businesses, on May 1, 2019, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) extended both the deadline to notify employees about the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA) and the deadline for employers to apply for a “private plan” exemption from law. Previously, the DFML required employers to distribute notices to employees regarding the PFMLA by May 31, 2019, and required employers seeking a private plan exemption from the contribution requirements of the PFMLA to apply for an exemption by June 30, 2019. The new deadline to distribute the required notices is June 30, 2019, and the new deadline to apply for an exemption is September 20, 2019.

Notice to Employees:

In a previous update, the DFML published template notices that employers can use to fulfill the notice requirement of the PFMLA and required employers to distribute the notices and receive acknowledgment that employees received the notice by May 31, 2019. Extending this deadline to June 30, 2019, gives employers another month to prepare for distribution to the workforce.  The notice must cover the benefits, contribution rates, and other protections available under the PFMLA. The notice must also include an opportunity for the employee to acknowledge receipt, or decline to acknowledge receipt of the notice. 

Plan Exemptions:

The current guidance issued by the DFML requires that an employer seeking an exemption based on a “private plan” receives approval for that exemption in the quarter before the exemption goes into effect. This update changes that requirement for the initial quarter of PFMLA contributions only. Employers now have until September 20, 2019, to file for and receive a private plan exemption before making the initial contribution. This will give employers more time to contemplate different private plan options. However, if an employer’s exemption does not receive approval before September 20, 2019, that employer will be responsible for remitting the full contribution amount from July 1, 2019, forward. The guidance does not state what an employer should do regarding employee deductions if the employer’s request for a private plan exemption is denied or not acted upon before September 20, 2019. Nor does the guidance address the issue of whether an employer could lawfully seek retroactive deductions from employees going back to July 1, 2019 if an exemption application is not timely approved. 

The DFML will continue to accept applications for exemptions after September 20, 2019 on a rolling basis. If the DFML grants an exemption after September 20, 2019, the exemption will not go into effect until the following quarter and the employer will remain responsible for the required contributions through the end of the quarter in which they apply. For example, if an employer applies for and is granted an exemption based on a private plan in October 2019, that employer must still remit the required contributions through the end of the year before the exemption takes effect in the first quarter of 2020.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2020National Law Review, Volume IX, Number 122


About this Author

Jeffrey S. Brody, Jackson Lewis, employee discipline attorney, disability management lawyer

Jeffrey S. Brody is a Principal in the Boston, Massachusetts, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He exclusively represents management in workplace law, including counseling and litigation. Mr. Brody routinely advises clients regarding day-to-day employment issues, such as employee discipline and discharge, disability management issues, reductions in force, and restrictive covenants. He also regularly conducts training programs for employers on a variety of employment-related topics, such as performance management, sexual harassment awareness, and disability...

(617) 367-0025
Samia Kirmani, Jackson Lewis Law Firm, Unemployment Counseling Attorney

Samia M. Kirmani is a Principal in the Boston, Massachusetts, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She concentrates her practice in employment counseling, training and litigation on behalf of management.

Ms. Kirmani provides practical legal advice to clients on various employment law issues, including discrimination, health and leave management, reductions in force, retaliation and whistleblower matters, individual separations, and employee relations issues. Ms. Kirmani also assists clients with policy creation, revision and implementation and routinely conducts management and employee trainings on topics in employment law, including sexual harassment prevention and best management practices. Ms. Kirmani also advises clients with respect to drafting and implementing national arbitration agreements.

Ms. Kirmani defends employers in employment-related litigation and administrative proceedings at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. Ms. Kirmani is a frequent speaker and addresses Legal and Human Resources audiences on current and various workplace law topics, such as paid sick leave, arbitration agreements and class action waivers, and employment discrimination.


Matthew C. Chambers Labor and Employment Lawyer Jackson Lewis Law Firm

Matthew C. Chambers is an Associate in the Boston, Massachusetts, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. His practice focuses on representing employers in workplace law matters, including preventive advice and counseling.

Matthew D. Freeman, Jackson Lewis, Boston, absence issues lawyer, wage hour litigation attorney

Matthew D. Freeman is a Principal in the Boston, Massachusetts, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He routinely advises clients regarding compliance with state and federal labor and employment laws, including those related to employee discipline and discharge, disability management and leave of absence issues, wage and hour issues, and reductions in force.

Mr. Freeman also regularly advises clients regarding traditional labor law issues, including employer rights and obligations under collective bargaining agreements and the...

(617) 367-0025

Keerthi Sugumaran is an Associate in the Boston, Massachusetts, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Her practice focuses on representing and defending employers in workplace legal issues, including preventive advice and counsel.

Prior to joining Jackson Lewis, Ms. Sugumaran worked at a Boston law firm for over four years as a general litigator. During this time, she represented employers in front of the MCAD, EEOC, state and federal courts. Ms. Sugumaran also participated in a six-month secondment, working in-house for a private...