Updated Draft Regulations for MA Paid Family and Medical Leave

Compliance

The newly created Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave released updated draft regulations on March 29th for the new Paid Family and Medical Leave law. The Department will hold several listening sessions in May throughout the state before issuing final regulations sometime before July, 2019. Below is an outline of the draft regulations with pertinent information for employers concerning their obligations under the law.

Provision Description
Key Dates
  •  July 1, 2019, final regulations due and quarterly reporting instructions due;
  •  July 1, 2019, employers must begin employee payroll deductions;
  •  July 1, 2019, new hire notice distribution begins;
  •  July 1, 2019, informational posters must be displayed on or before this date;
  • October 31, 2019, contributions (employer and employee) for July through September due;
  •  January 1, 2021, most leave available;
  •  July 1, 2021, all leave available;
  •  January 1, 2023, Retaliation against an employee for exercising rights under the PFML will be prohibited.
Governing Agency The Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) within the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.
Benefit Administrator The Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) within the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.  Except for employee notification, quarterly reporting, collecting and remitting contributions, employers are not involved in the benefit determination or payment of benefits.  However, note that the DFML may contact the employer for information on an employee that applies for benefits.  When this happens, employers will have 5 business days to respond to DFML.
Covered Employers All employers (one or more employees) who are required to contribute to the Massachusetts Unemployment Insurance program (UI) must submit contributions on behalf of their employees to cover the portion of PFML contribution due from employees, as well as make their required employer contribution to the medical leave portion.  Employers with fewer than 25 employees must submit contributions on behalf of their employees, however they are not required to pay the employer portion of the contributions for medical leave. Cities and towns are exempt but can opt in to the program; employers not covered by UI can also opt in to the program.
Eligible Employees All employees who meet the monetary eligibility requirements of the state’s UI program (i.e. the employee must have earned 30 times the weekly unemployment benefit that the employee would be eligible to receive and must have earned at least $4,700 during the last four calendar quarters). No minimum hour requirement.

Additionally employees whose employer they contract with issues 1099-MISC to more than 50% of its workforce are covered employees.

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Get Set to Run & Join Us in Supporting Camphill Village on May 18th

runners

Diversified is proud to sponsor the Camphill Village 5K Trail & Fun Run coming up on Saturday, May 18th! If you’d like to participate, there are three running options that allow people of all abilities to join from virtually anywhere!

  • Sign up to run from home or anywhere; just be sure to take to Facebook and Instagram to share photos and your reason for participating leading up to and during the run. Use the hashtag #Camphill5K and your posts will be featured on their website and social media. If you send your address, they will also send you a gift from their event to show their thanks.
  • Sponsor a runner or sign up to personally run the 5K Trail Run through the Camphill Village scenic woods and pathways.
  • Sponsor a participant or sign up to leisurely walk, jog or stroll around Ring Road at the Village in the Fun Run. (Kids 12 & under run the Fun Run for free!)

With these options, it’s easy to support this wonderful cause. Through sponsorships, donations and registrations, this 5K and Fun Run will help to provide the programs and services that make Camphill Village the very special place it is for adults with special needs.

Diversified Group is proud to support this event that attracts virtual runners from all over the country and has raised more than $40,000 to benefit the lives of people who call Camphill Village their home.

To register, click below to visit the website and go to Runner Sign Up.

More About Camphill Village

Camphill Village in upstate New York is 615 acres of wooded hills, gardens and pastures. Adults with special needs and long- and short-term service volunteers live and work together as equals in extended family homes throughout the area. We are a non-profit organization dedicated to our mission of being an integrated community where people with developmental differences are living a life of dignity, equality and purpose. Through sponsorships, donations and registrations, this 5K and Fun Run will help to provide the programs and services that make Camphill Village the very special place it is for adults with special needs.

DOL’s Recent Clarification Surrounding FMLA

Page with FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) on the table with stethoscope, medical concept

The Department of Labor (DOL) on occasion will issue opinion letters to clarify employer’s obligations under various federal employment laws. These DOL opinion letters help employers to understand their obligations and can be relied upon to establish a “good faith” defense against certain federal claims.

On March 14, 2019, the DOL issued an opinion letter regarding FMLA leave and its coordination with other employer leave provisions. The DOL clarified that if an employee’s leave taken for medical reasons is deemed FMLA qualified, the employer must then designate the leave as FMLA leave within five business days and may not delay such designation even to accommodate or benefit its employee. In other words, if an employee requests to take paid PTO leave and delay the designation of qualified FMLA leave until after the paid PTO is exhausted, per this opinion letter, once an eligible employee communicates a need to take leave for a qualified FMLA reason, neither the employer nor the employee may decline FMLA protection for that leave. Thus, when an employer deems that leave is for a qualified FMLA reason, the leave counts toward the employee’s FMLA leave entitlement.

The employer may instead allow the employee to “stack” the FMLA leave and paid leave by allowing the employee to take the FMLA leave unpaid and to use any available paid leave upon exhaustion of the FMLA entitlement. Alternatively, the employer may require employees to utilize available paid leave concurrently with FMLA leave, thus paid leave counts toward the FMLA leave entitlement, and vice versa.

Employers should review applicable state leave laws that may offer additional or different benefits that may cause the DOL opinion letter to contradict existing precedent. For example, this opinion letter contradicts the 2014 Ninth Circuit Court’s case Escriba v Foster Poultry Farms, Inc. which found that an employee could affirmatively decline to exercise their FMLA rights, even when they clearly would have qualified, in order to preserve the FMLA rights for future use. Those employers in the Ninth Circuit jurisdiction (Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington) may want to consult their legal counsel prior to relying on this opinion letter.

It is intended for Diversified Group’s medical plan document language to correspond with an employer’s human resource practices. Our documents typically include language that FMLA will run concurrently with other leaves in compliance with the DOL’s intent. To ensure that your medical plan document and your HR practices are coordinated, we offer a gap analysis which looks at gaps between your plan document and your employee handbook with an eye to ensuring compliance with your plan document and your stop loss carrier’s requirements. Gap analysis is done at no cost to you. If you are interested in having a gap analysis completed, please contact either Dave Follansbee or Laura Williams at the contact information below.

Dave Follansbee – dfollansbee@diversifiedgb.com / 860-295-6531
Laura Williams – lwilliams@diversifiedgb.com / 860-612-8644

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Help Diversified Group Support Operation E.L.F. for the Holidays

Diversified Group is happy to be collecting donations for Operation E.L.F. (Embracing Lonely Families) again this Christmas season. Operation E.L.F. is an organization that assists military families whose loved ones are overseas for the holidays.

12196362_1111921568825671_3251173012153062686_nWe will be taking donations through Monday, December 10th. Donations can include new, unwrapped toys and clothing. Please drop off items under the tree in our lobby. Gift cards are also welcome and can be placed in the basket inside our lobby. Volunteers are asking if you give clothing to please leave the tags still on and please remember to keep the gift card receipt with any gift cards given.

Military families in Connecticut receive these holiday gifts at a time when they may be unable to provide for their children as much as they would like to. Diversified Group is so grateful for everyone’s generosity and we are proud to help make Christmas a little brighter for these families.

To learn more about Operation E.L.F., please click here: https://www.facebook.com/ConnecticutOperationELF/.

 

Diversified Group Named One of Connecticut’s Healthiest Employers of 2018

This announcement from the Hartford Business Journal was published on December 3, 2018.

Meet CT’s healthiest workplaces

Hartford Business Journal’s first-ever Healthiest Employers Awards recognize organizations dedicated to employee health and safety in addition to their efforts to implement wellness programs.

CTHealthiest.jpg

The awards program was done in partnership with the Healthiest Employers Group, which determined the finalists and winners using a scoring methodology managed by Springbuk, a privately held technology and data research firm.

Companies that participated in the awards program had to complete an hour-long online assessment. Companies were then ranked based on their performance on the following six measures: culture and leadership commitment; foundational components; strategic planning; communication and marketing; programming and interventions; and reporting and analytics.

CATEGORY: 0-150 CT EMPLOYEES

1st Place | Antea Group

2nd Place | FM Global

3rd Place | Gallagher

4th Place | Diversified Group

5th Place | Safelite AutoGlass

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Photo Source: Hartford Business Journal

Diversified Group

4th Place | Category: 0-150 CT employees

Industry: Employee benefits

CT Headquarters: Marlborough

CT Employees: 64

When Diversified Group (DG) started its fitness program back in 1985, it basically consisted of a boot camp-style fitness contest.

But over the years, commitment to health and wellness among employees has intensified to where DG now has a wellness department staffed by six certified health coaches, personal trainers and registered dietitians. The wellness team is responsible for spearheading the company’s wellness program.

DG has also maintained a modest fitness facility on its grounds, and within the last five years, certified instructors have been stopping by on a weekly basis for cycling, strength and yoga classes.

DG also hosts regular meditation workshops giving workers access to guided meditation sessions to decompress and recharge.

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Donate with Diversified This Holiday Season

DG Food Bank

Diversified Group is celebrating the season of giving and will be holding a food drive for our local food bank, the Food Bank of Marlborough, Connecticut. Please consider donating this holiday season as this is the time of year when food banks are in the most need. Donations will be collected until December 13th.

The food bank provides hams for Christmas dinners, so anything that you can think of that would accompany a ham dinner, whether side dishes or supplies, would be helpful. Below is a list of some suggested items:

Cake Mixes
Frostings
Pie Crusts (Boxed)
Muffin/Bread Mixes
Cranberry Sauce
Any Canned Goods
Spray Shortening (Pam)
Cooking Oil
Salt & Pepper
Rice Packages (Flavor or Regular)
Any Cereals/Bars
*Please No Paper Goods

Please drop off all donations to our offices at 369 North Main Street in Marlborough, Connecticut. And if you would like more information on the Food Bank, please visit http://www.foodbankofmarlborough.org/.