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.

On August 1, 2017, Gov. Baker signed into law $200 million in new fees and fines on Massachusetts employers to help pay for employees who receive health insurance coverage through MassHealth or subsidized coverage through the Massachusetts Health Connector.

The new law, effective for a two-year period starting January 1, 2018, applies to employers with more than five employees. For every employee who has coverage through MassHealth or subsidized coverage through the Massachusetts Health Connector instead of coverage through the employer’s plan, the employer must pay a fine equal to five percent of the employee’s “wages” up to $750. Wages are defined as the “unemployment insurance taxable wage base,” which is $15,000 for 2017. Thus, the maximum fine is $750 ($15,000 times five percent equals $750).

The Department of Unemployment Insurance (DUI), in consultation with the Division of Medical Assistance and Health Insurance Connector Authority, is responsible for providing regulations for implementing the new law and once provided, employers must pay the fines in accordance with the regulations. Among many details the regulations will address are the number of days an individual must have MassHealth or subsidized coverage to trigger a fine.

The DUI will notify employers of any fines they must pay. Once notified, an employer may request a hearing provided the request is made within 10 days of receiving the notice.

Unfortunately, there is not much time between now and January 2018 for employers to plan for the new law and its potential impact on their budgets. Employers such as retail, hospitality, human services, and other industries employing a significant number of lower wage workers are likely to be most impacted.

The PS&A team will inform you when the regulations are published. Also, feel free to contact us with any questions or help needed.