Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act— New Notification and Contribution Deadlines

The Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act applies to all employers who have at least one employee in Massachusetts. On June 14, 2019, the original notification and contribution dates were delayed by several months. The current deadline for making required notifications to employees is now September 30, 2019. Starting October 1, 2019, employers must take the required deductions from employee payroll, make any required employer contributions, and remit contributions to the Family and Employment Security Trust Fund (the “Trust Fund”).  Because of the delay in the start date for deductions and contributions, the contribution rate has also been adjusted. Paid family and medical leave benefits will be available beginning in 2021. Employee Notification Massachusetts employers must provide an appropriate notification of the new law to members of their workforce by the extended deadline of September 30, 2019. The notification requirements include both providing a written notice directly to employees and displaying a workplace poster in a conspicuous place. The Department of Family and Medical Leave has made available template notices on its website.   An employer who provided written notices to employees prior to June 14, 2019 (the date the delay was announced), will need to provide employees with...

New Non-Compete and Trade Secrets Laws in Massachusetts – What’s changed?

On October 1, 2018, Massachusetts law governing non-compete agreements and the protection of trade secrets changed.  While much remains unclear on how these new laws will be interpreted by the courts, here is what we do know: Non-compete Agreements The new noncompete law applies to all employees (and independent contractors) who are employed in or a resident of Massachusetts.  Under the new law, noncompete provisions in employment agreements: Are not enforceable against (i) hourly employees, (ii) undergraduate or graduate students employed as interns, or (iii) minors; Are not enforceable if an employee is terminated without cause; Must be in writing, be provided to potential new employees at least 10 days prior to the start of a job or before offering the job, and must expressly state that the employee has the right to consult with a lawyer prior to signing; Must include  additional consideration for the noncompete obligation other than “continuation of employment” for existing employees, and must provide those employees with the same 10 days’ notice and right to consult with a lawyer prior to signing; With limited exceptions, must be no longer than one year; Must be reasonable in geographic scope and reasonable in the scope of the...

Historic Massachusetts Equal Pay Law Becomes Effective July 1, 2018 – Make Sure You Are Ready

On July 1, 2018, the updated Massachusetts Equal Pay Act[1] will go into effect to remedy the continuing gender wage gap between male and female wage earners. Under the new legislation, all Massachusetts employers are prohibited from paying employees of different genders a different wage for performing comparable work. The law’s scope includes out-of-state employers who have employees with a primary place of work within Massachusetts. Under existing law, an employer must pay equal wages where jobs are comparable in skill, effort, responsibility, working conditions, and substantive content.  For example, while food service work and janitorial work require comparable skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions, the jobs are not comparable because they are substantively different and therefore, unequal wages between the two jobs is acceptable. Under the new law, however, comparable work is more broadly defined. Even if two jobs are substantively different, they can be considered comparable, thus requiring equal pay. Thus, a food service job may be considered comparable to a janitorial job if the two jobs require similar skills, effort, responsibilities and working conditions, even though they are substantively different positions. “Wages” includes incentive pay, deferred compensation and the opportunity to participate in benefit programs under the...

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Imposes New Obligations on Employers

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (the “Act”)[1] goes into effect April 1, 2018. Are you ready?   The Act applies to all employers with six or more employees. In creating a new protected class, the Act prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy or a condition related to pregnancy.  An employee may have a condition related to pregnancy during or after pregnancy.  Examples are morning sickness, lactation, or the need to express breast milk. No later than April 1, 2018, employers must provide written notice, in a handbook, pamphlet, or some other form, to all employees of the “right to be free from discrimination in relation to pregnancy or a condition related to the employee’s pregnancy, including, but not limited to, lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child, including the right to reasonable accommodations for conditions related to pregnancy.”[2] In addition to the general notice requirement, written notice of rights under the Act must be provided to (1) all new employees at or prior to commencement of employment; and (2) to employees who notify the employer of a pregnancy or an employee who notifies the employer of a pregnancy-related condition, no more than 10...

Employers Must Pay Employees for Voluntarily Working Through Lunch

Employers may be required to pay overtime when employees voluntarily work during their lunch breaks, even if the employees fail to record these hours. In VItali v. Reit Management and Research LLC, an employee  regularly worked during her lunch break.  She sued her employer for overtime pay that she would have received had this time been recorded.  The employer claimed that it did not owe the employee overtime pay because (1) she never reported the hours in question; and (2) she had not complied with a company policy requiring her to obtain her manager’s approval before working overtime. The Appeals Court ruled in favor of the employee. It noted that the employer should have known employees worked during lunch because many employees had asked how to record lunch hours.  It also noted that the overtime policy was not consistently enforced and would not necessarily apply to hours worked during lunch. To ensure that your business complies with the overtime pay laws, keep the following in mind: Make it is easy for employees to record any hours they work during lunch. Train employees on how to use your time-keeping system. You, not your employees, are responsible to ensure that all employee...

Attorney General Issues Final Regulations to New Sick Leave Law

CLIENT ALERT July 1, 2015 Under Massachusetts’s new sick leave law, voted into law on November 4, 2014, employees are entitled to forty hours of sick time per calendar year, with one hour of sick time accruing for every thirty hours worked. Employers with eleven or more employees must provide paid sick time. Employers with fewer than eleven employees may provide unpaid sick time. The Attorney General has issued Final Regulations that address ambiguities in the new law. They retain the main points contained in the Proposed Regulations and described in CLIENT ALERT: ATTORNEY GENERAL ISSUES PROPOSED REGULATIONS TO NEW SICK LEAVE LAW. The Final Regulations also expand upon the Proposed Regulations by answering the following questions in more detail. May I Cap Accrual of Sick Time at Forty Hours? Yes. When an employee accrues forty hours of sick time in a calendar year, no additional time is accrued regardless of additional hours worked. Where an employee’s sick time bank reaches forty hours, you may opt to delay further accrual until the employee draws down the bank to below forty hours. May Earned Sick Time Run Concurrently with FMLA and Other Federal and State Leave Laws? Yes. Earned sick time...

Extension available to certain employers for compliance with new Massachusetts Sick time Law

CLIENT ALERT May 18, 2015 Extension available to certain employers for compliance with new Massachusetts Sick Time Law Employers who currently offer sick leave to their employees may now have an additional six months to comply with the provisions of the new Massachusetts sick time law.  The original effective date of the law was July 1, 2015, but employers who qualify for the extension have until January 1, 2016 to implement the new law.  To qualify, the employer must have had as of May 1, 2015 a paid time off policy that provides employees with the right to use at least 30 hours of paid time off from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015.  By July 1, 2015, paid time off must be provided to all employees, including part-time, temporary, and seasonal workers.  Employers may provide proportional amounts of paid time off to part-time employees and employees hired after July 1, 2015.  The paid time off must be job-protected and subject to the new law’s non-retaliation and non-interference provisions. Employers who did not maintain a paid time off policy as of May 1, 2015 do not qualify for the extension, and must comply with the new law by the...

Attorney General Issues Proposed Regulations to New Sick Leave Law

CLIENT ALERT May 18, 2015 Attorney General Issues Proposed Regulations to New Sick Leave Law Under Massachusetts’ new sick leave law, signed into law on November 4, 2014, employees are entitled to forty hours of sick time per calendar year, with one hour of sick time accruing for every thirty hours worked.  [See Client Alert:  New Law Mandates Employers Provide Sick Leave.]  Employers with eleven or more employees must provide paid sick time.  Employers with fewer than eleven employees may provide unpaid sick time.  The Attorney General has issued proposed regulations that address ambiguities in the new law.    Since the proposed regulations are scheduled to be made final only days before July 1, 2015 – the effective date of the law – the Attorney General has implemented a six-month extension for qualifying employers.   [See Client Alert:  Certain Employers Have Six Month “Safe Harbor” Period.]  An overview of the proposed regulations follows. Do Paid Time Off Banks Meet the Sick Time Law’s Requirements? Yes, if (i) one hour of PTO accrues for every thirty hours worked, and (ii) the PTO may be taken for the same reasons as sick time.  Leave policies are also permitted to provide more than forty hours...

Client Alert: Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act expanded to include men and to provide additional protections to employees

On January 7, 2015, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law a Parental Leave Bill, amending the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (“MMLA”).  The MMLA had provided eight weeks of job-protected leave to female employees for the birth or adoption of a child.  The Parental Leave Bill expands this protection to include men and to provide certain additional protections. As amended, the parental leave law provides: Eight weeks of job-protected leave for the birth or adoption of a child, regardless of whether the employee is male or female. Eight weeks of job-protected leave for the placement of a child with an employee pursuant to court order. A presumption that employees taking parental leaves that exceed eight weeks are also entitled to job protection, unless the employer provides written notice to the employee that leave for longer than eight weeks is not job-protected.  That notice must be provided before the leave begins and again at the end of the eight-week period.  (This provision of the new law overrides a prior Supreme Judicial Court decision – Global NAPs, Inc. v. Awiszus – which held that job protection only applied to the first eight weeks of leave.) Two individuals who work for the same employer...

New Law Mandates Employers Provide Sick Leave

On November 4, 2014, the voters of Massachusetts approved a ballot question that grants employees forty hours of sick time per calendar year.  Employers with eleven or more employees must provide paid leave.  Employers with ten or fewer employees may provide unpaid leave.   All employees are entitled to the leave, including part-time and temporary workers. The new law takes effect on July 1, 2015. Employees may use the sick time to (1) attend to their own illness or the illness of their child, spouse, parent, or in-laws; (2) attend routine medical appointments; or (3) address the effects of domestic violence in their household. One hour of sick time is earned for every thirty hours an employee works.  Employees begin accruing sick time on their date of hire, or on July 1, 2015, whichever is later.  Employees are not eligible to use accrued sick time until ninety days after the start of their employment.  They may carry over accrued sick time into the next year, but may only use a maximum of forty hours of sick time in one year. Employees may use sick time in hourly increments, or in the smallest unit of time that their employer uses to track...