On January 23, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (the "Department") published draft regulations (the "Regulations") regarding the newly created Paid Family and Medical Leave Program (the "Program"). The Regulations expand upon legislation enacted this past summer (Acts 2018, c. 121, the "Act") requiring private employers of all sizes to make contributions to the Program and provide leave to eligible employees. Employers must also provide leave to independent contractors who opt into the Program and cover the contributions themselves (collectively, employees and independent contractors are referred to as "eligible individuals").
As specified under the Act, eligible individuals are entitled to job-protected, paid leave for up to 12 weeks per year to care for a sick family member or child, up to 20 weeks per year to attend to the individual's own serious health condition, and up to 26 weeks per year to deal with an emergency related to the deployment of a family member for military service. Each eligible individual may take a maximum of 26 weeks of leave under the Program each year.
While the Act was light on language directed at employers, the Regulations raise the following new obligations for employers:
Obligation to Submit Quarterly Filings
At the end of each calendar quarter, employers must file a report containing the name, social security number, wages and other earnings paid to each employee. Employers must also report the federal employer identification number and the identification number that the employer is required to include on a withholding tax return filed under M.G.L. c. 62B, as well as the names, social security numbers and payments made to individuals for services that are reported on an IRS Form 1099-MISC. Employers must submit the quarterly filings to the Department through the MassTaxConnect system.
Obligation to Respond to Department Requests
The Act already provided that an employer must respond to any request regarding wage, earnings or employment information for any eligible individual within 10 calendar days after the date that the request was sent. The Regulations also mandate that, upon request, employers will have 5 calendar days to provide the Department with information or records relevant to a claim for benefits, including (a) wages and/or earnings for the past 12 months, (b) a job description, (c) whether the eligible individual works a full- or part-time schedule, (d) weekly hours...