The Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (MA DFML) published updated proposed regulations on the Massachusetts Paid Family & Medical Leave Act (MA PFML) on March 29 that include significant clarifications to the first draft published in January.  In addition, the MA DFML released a user-friendly, informative Guide for employers on March 26, and the mandatory poster.   On April 17, the MA DFML released a model template for the notice to employees, which must be provided to existing employees by May 31, 2019.  For details, be sure to see our latest issue of HR Insights, which provides an overview in Q&A format of what employers need to know and do to prepare for implementing MA PFML.  To view HR Insights, click here.

Here’s a quick checklist for three new compliance requirements for 2019:

  • 1/1/2019: MA minimum wage increase from $11/hour to $12/hour
  • 7/1/2019: MA Family and Medical Leave, mandatory contributions begin, and employers must start complying with the posting and notice requirements (Note: Paid leave benefits do not start until 1/1/2021)
  • 11/30/2019: Annual filing of Health Insurance Responsibility Disclosure (HIRD) due (Note: The first filing was due 11/30/2018. For information about HIRD, click here.)

The Department of Labor (DOL) once again extended the expiration of the FMLA forms originally set to expire in May 2018 to July 31, 2018.   The forms are available on DOL’s website.  Here is a list of the forms and their website addresses where the current and any new updated forms once issued can be found.

The MA Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) recently announced that it modified the Employer Medical Assistance Contribution (EMAC) regulations to exclude employees under age 18 (minors) from the EMAC supplement tax assessment.  The change was made to prevent unintended consequences of the regulations.

The EMAC supplement tax was created under An Act to Further Regulating Employer Contributions to Health Care, which was signed into law by Governor Baker in August 2017, and effective January 1, 2018.  The EMAC supplement tax is a temporary tax due to expire on December 31, 2019.  It was put into place to help offset the costs for employees who have coverage through MassHealth or subsidized coverage through the Massachusetts ConnectorCare Program until longer-term reform measures can be put into place.

For more information about EMAC and its impact on employers, be sure to read HR Insights, Issue 6.

Governor Baker signed H.4640, known as the “Grand Bargain” into law on June 28, 2018.  The new law:

  • Increases the Massachusetts minimum wage over the next five years from $11 to $15 per hour
  • Phases out certain premium pay requirements for retail employees working Sundays and holidays
  • Creates a job-protected paid family and medical leave (FML) program in Massachusetts

In addition, the new law establishes an annual permanent two-day weekend sales tax holiday starting in August of 2019.

For a summary of the Grand Bargain legislation, be sure to read our latest issue of HR Insights.

IRS has issued the inflation adjustments for Health Savings Accounts effective for calendar year 2019.  The table below shows the current annual contribution limitations and high deductible health plan levels for 2018 and 2019.

The changes to the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (MEPA) designed to help close the wage gap between men and women performing comparable work take effect just a month away on July 1, 2018.  Is your organization prepared for the changes? For a summary of the changes and an action plan for implementing them, be sure to see our newest issue of HR Insights.

 

Governor Baker signed An Act Further Regulating Employer Contributions to Health Care (The Act) into law in August 2017, and regulations implementing The Act were issued in late 2017. Issue 6 of HR Insights discusses The Act’s impact on employers. The Act:

  • Temporarily increases the existing Employer Medical Assistance Contribution (EMAC)
  • Temporarily creates a supplemental contribution (or penalty) that employers must pay for employees who have MassHealth or subsidized health coverage through the ConnectorCare program
  • Decreases the scheduled unemployment insurance experience rate to help offset the cost of the increases in the EMAC and the supplemental contribution

To learn more about The Act, click here.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (P.L. 115-97), also known as Tax Reform, was signed into law on December 22, 2017. The new law has been a major topic in the news for several weeks. Issue 7 of HR Insights focuses on some of the changes relating to payroll and benefits, including:

  • Tax withholding tables and Form W-4
  • ACA individual mandate
  • Family and Medical Leave Act tax credit
  • Rollover of defined contribution plan loan offsets
  • Recharacterization of IRA contributions
  • Qualified transportation and bicycle commuting benefits
  • Qualified moving expenses
  • Meals and entertainment expenses
  • Employee achievement awards

 To review our issue of HR Insights, click here.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) informed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on August 29th that it was “initiating a review and immediate stay of the effectiveness of the pay data collection aspects” of the previously approved EEO-1 form requiring pay data be reported.

For many years, employers with 100 or more employees and certain other employers have been required to file EEO-1 reports annually that show their number of employees by job category and then for each category, the number of employees by gender, ethnicity, and race. Starting with the 2017 EEO-1 report, the report would have required summary pay data by gender, ethnicity, and race within each job category. The pay data requirement was highly controversial. Many questioned the validity of the data that would have been provided for purposes of identifying pay discrimination. In addition, many expressed concerns about the significant administrative challenges the new form created. Because of the new pay data requirement, EEOC also moved the filing deadline from September 30, 2017, to March 31, 2018.

Given the suspension, EEOC says that employers should use the previously approved EEO-1 form to report the data on race, ethnicity, and gender by job category (i.e., the data reporting requirements that will remain in effect). In addition, employers should file their reports by the previously set filing deadline of March 31, 2018.