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MA FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE

IMMEDIATE COMPLIANCE STEPS FOR EMPLOYERS AFTER:

— CONTRIBUTION & NOTICE REQUIREMENTS DELAYED 3 MONTHS

— FINAL PAID FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE REGULATIONS RELEASED

— CONTRIBUTION PRECENTAGE INCREASED TO .75%

— REVISED TEMPLATE WORKER NOTICE FORMS POSTED

PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR DETAILED UPDATES

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BBI ALERT: MA Family and Medical Leave Contributions Delayed For 3 Months!

EMPLOYER MA FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE CONTRIBUTIONS

DELAYED FOR 3 MONTHS – UNTIL OCTOBER 1, 2019 –

CONTRIBUTION PRECENTAGE INCREASED TO .75%

 

With just three weeks to spare, the Massachusetts House, Senate and Baker Administration issued a joint statement late yesterday agreeing to adopt a three month delay to the start of required contributions to the MA PFML program. This is being done “to ensure businesses have adequate time to implement the state’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program.” According to the joint statement “technical changes to clarify program design” will also be adopted.

This is welcome news since many employers are struggling to implement various employer requirements under the PFML program in the absence of final regulations.

Note: This is an agreement by MA lawmakers to adopt changes to the MA PFML program. Legislative action by the MA House and Senate is still required, followed by Governor Baker’s signature.

The delay will not affect the overall paid leave timeline. Workers will still be able to access paid leave benefits beginning January 1, 2021. In order to maintain the amount of pre-funding and not reduce total contributions paid to the new family and medical leave trust fund, the contribution rate will be increased from .63 percent to .75 percent of wages when withholding of contribution amounts begin on October 1, 2019.

There is no word currently on:

· Whether there will be a change in the medical/family leave allocation of the .75% contribution rate

· The delay/extension of the workplace poster and employee notification requirements — however, these requirements will likely be extended as a practical matter given that the content of these notices will be changing

The three month delay will logically result in the following relief:

· Employer payroll deduction of employee contributions will now commence with amounts paid on or after October 1, 2019

             · Employer quarterly wage reporting to MassTaxConnect for Q3 (October 1 to December 31, 2019) will now be due following December 31, 2019

· Payment/Remittance by employers of contribution amounts based on reported Q3 wages will now be payable by January 31, 2020

Details of the proposed delay and technical adjustments will continue to develop. Please stay tuned.

 

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The foregoing has been prepared as a general overview of the subject matter covered. It is not meant to provide legal advice with respect to any specific matter and it should not be taken as legal or compliance advice. Do not take, or refrain from taking, any action on legal or compliance issues related to any employee benefit plan(s) based upon this information. Readers of this alert are encouraged to consult with their own professional counsel. RAS Law, P.C. is not obligated to provide updates on the information presented herein. This material may be considered advertising under certain rules of professional conduct.

© 2019 Richard A. Szczebak, Esq. All Rights Reserved.

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Massachusetts FMLA filing for an exception

“IMPORTANT ALERT REGARDING THE MASSACHUSETTS FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT”

Starting Yesterday, the Mass Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) opened to employers already providing paid leave benefits to their workforce that wish to receive an exemption from collecting, remitting, and paying PFML contributions. Exemption applications can be submitted through the Department of Revenue’s MassTaxConnect.

The attached Alert was prepared for Business Benefits Incorporated by Richard A. Szczebak, Esq.  Mr. Szczebak is an accomplished attorney and consultant with a strong background in regulatory and compliance matters regarding employee benefit plans, federal health care reform (ACA) and Massachusetts health care reform.

One glaring question, that will cause most fully insured STD plans to fail, is under the Medical Leave Section.

Does your plan cover unemployed former employees who apply for benefits for family leave for up to 26 weeks after separation from employment, or until they obtain other employment, whichever is sooner?

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to your BBI Account Manager.

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Information from Business Benefits Concerning the Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave

Finally, The Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave has posted the notice required to be provided by employers and covered business entities to their current workforce of PFML benefits, contribution rates, and other provisions as outlined in M.G.L. c. 175M sec. 4 on or before May 31, 2019.

First, Massachusetts employers must display The Paid Family and Medical Leave mandatory workplace poster prepared or approved by the Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) that explains the benefits available to your workforce under the PFML law. You must post this poster at your workplace in a location where it can be easily read. I have attached a copy of the Poster for your use.

Secondly, On or before May 31, 2019, Employers and Covered Business Entities are required to provide written notice to their current workforce of PFML benefits, contribution rates, and other provisions as outlined in M.G.L. c. 175M sec. 4.

The notice, which may be provided electronically, must include the opportunity for an employee or self-employed individual to acknowledge receipt or decline to acknowledge receipt of the information. The employer can receive these acknowledgments in paper form or electronically.

In the event an employee fails to acknowledge receipt, the Department shall consider an Employer or Covered Business entity to have fulfilled its notice obligation if it can establish that it provided to each member of its current workforce notice with the opportunity to acknowledge or decline to acknowledge receipt. The easiest way to accomplish this is to send an email “Requesting a Read Receipt”.

I have attached the sample notice provided by the Department of Family Medical Leave for your distribution.

If you have any questions regarding this information, please feel free to reach out to your BBI Account Manager or access the following link.

https://www.mass.gov/info-details/informing-your-workforce-about-paid-family-and-medical-leave

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Presidents’ Day Office Closure

Business Benefits will be closed, Monday, February 18th, 2019 in observance of Presidents’ Day.  Enjoy your weekend!

Sincerely,

Matt Hollister

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Deadlines to Furnish Forms 1095-C and 1095-B to Employees Fast Approaching – Your Monthly Newsletter

Deadlines to Furnish Forms 1095-C and 1095-B to Employees Fast Approaching

The IRS deadlines to furnish Forms 1095-C and 1095-B to employees in early 2019 are fast approaching. The deadlines are as follows:

  • Employers with 50 or more full-time employees(including full-time equivalent employees) generally must furnish a Form 1095-C to all full-time employees no later than March 4, 2019.
  • Self-insured employers with fewer than 50 or more full-time employees (including full-time equivalent employees) generally must furnish a Form 1095-B to all responsible individuals–typically the primary insured, an employee or former employee, or other related person named on the application for insurance–no later than March 4, 2019.

The deadline for employers to file all Forms 1095-C and 1095-B with the IRS remains February 28, 2019 (or April 1, 2019, if filing electronically). For more information, read the instructions for Forms 1095-C and 1095-B.


Calculating OT? Double-Check Your Math

Overtime (OT) is typically calculated by multiplying an employee’s hourly rate by 1.5–pretty easy, right? It depends who checks your math.

The Department of Labor (DOL) recently published an opinion letteron pay rates, as they relate to calculating OT. According to the letter, you can vary employees’ average hourly rates from week to week–assuming the average hourly pay is always above the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage threshold. However, employers using this method should be cautious when determining OT pay. The DOL specified that a company may not “arbitrarily choose the regular rate of pay” on which to base OT–it must be based on fact and “mathematical computation.” In the simplest terms, this means: use an employee’s actual pay rate when calculating OT pay.


Retaining Talent: Are Your Leaders the Problem?

It’s no secret that bad bosses can send employees running, but what’s considered “bad” these days? To many businesses, it means being unempathetic.

Empathy is recognizing emotions in yourself and others, and using that understanding to influence your actions. Lately, companies are seeking leaders who exhibit high emotional intelligence because they maintain better rapport with employees and can keep them on board.

In fact, when it comes to retention, an empathetic leader is sometimes more important than pay, according to a recent study from Businessolver. Over two-thirds of workers in sectors like tech and health care say they would make concessions on pay if it meant having a more empathetic boss. Moreover, 90 percent of workers are more likely to stay with a company if it empathizes with their needs, according to the same study.

Making it Work for You
Experts suggest forming a culture of feedback at your company. Employees at all levels should feel comfortable offering feedback. Additionally, leaders should consider holding one-on-one meetings with employees to discuss what they need for success. Remember: when workers are comfortable sharing with empathetic leaders, your business can focus on improvement and growth.


5 Must-Do’s for Employee Orientation

Employee orientation is an important piece of HR and employee management. A formal orientation is essential to setting a new hire up for success and helping your company maintain the corporate image and values you portrayed during the interview process. Employee orientation can also be designed for current staffers who are being promoted to a new position within the company and need a similar type of program. Learn the must-do’s for employee orientation in the video below.

5 Must-Do's for Employee Orientation

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Don’t Leave Your Office Unprotected from the Flu – Your Monthly Newsletter

Don’t Leave Your Office Unprotected from the Flu

Each year, seasonal influenza has a marked impact on employers. The seasonal flu can cause increased absenteeism, decreased productivity, and higher health care costs. As an employer, you are well-positioned to help keep your employees healthy and minimize the flu’s impact on your business.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following strategies for employers to help fight the flu:

  • Host a flu vaccination clinic. Doing so can help educate employees about the importance of vaccination, and make it easier for them to get vaccinated.
  • Educate employees. Emphasize the importance of getting the flu vaccine and educate employees on common flu prevention strategies.

IRS Issues ACA Letters to Noncompliant Employers

The IRS has been sending Letter 5699 to employers that have not complied with their ACA reporting requirements for 2015.

Letter 5699 requests missing information from applicable large employers (ALEs) that were required to report under Section 6056, but failed to file Forms 1094-C and 1095-C with the IRS. The IRS identifies potentially noncompliant ALEs based on their Form W-2 total employee count reported for 2015.

Employers who receive a Letter 5699 should respond within the appropriate time frame and provide all appropriate information requested by the IRS, including any forms that are due.

Penalties may apply for any failures to file with the IRS by required deadlines. The IRS will use information provided in response to Letter 5699 to identify noncompliant ALEs and assess any penalties that may be owed.


Health Care Costs Still Rising, According to Annual Survey

Each year, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust conduct a survey to examine employer-sponsored health benefit trends such as annual deductibles, plan enrollment, and health and wellness programs. The 2018 edition of this survey has been released, and it discusses a lot, including how health care costs continue to rise.

One of the key findings of the survey was that the average cost of employer health coverage offered to workers rose 5 percent for a family plan in 2018, reaching nearly $20,000. For individual coverage, the average cost rose 3 percent from 2017 at just under $7,000.

While it was predicted years ago that health care costs would continue to rise, the sticker shock can be hard to get past. Industry experts believe that an increase in the costs of health care services is the reason why insurance premiums are consistently increasingly expensive.

How Are Employers Combatting Rising Costs?

Many employers have sought out ways to offset the cost of rising health insurance premiums. One of the most common ways this is accomplished is through increasing annual deductibles. For 2018, the average annual deductible for single coverage was $1,573 and the average annual deductible for family coverage was $4,676.

Another common way to reduce costs is to give employees the resources they need to become wiser health care consumers. Helping employees learn how to use the right health care services and shop around whenever possible can help employers and employees spend less money on health care services.


Five Steps to Successful Employee Communication

Effective managers must be strong communicators to inspire and lead their teams. The video below offers five strategies and suggestions to keep your managers’ communication efforts on point.

Five Steps to Successful Employee Communication

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Filing The New Massachusetts Employer HIRD Form In November 2018

Employers are receiving automated emails from the MA Department of Revenue’s MassTaxConnect notifying them of a new health insurance reporting requirement and indicating that action is required.  Welcome to the new annual Employer Health Insurance Responsibility Disclosure (HIRD) filing requirement.  Here is a quick start overview of the requirement.

 

STATE LAW NOW REQUIRES EVERY EMPLOYER IN MASSACHUSETTS WITH SIX OR MORE EMPLOYEES to annually submit a HIRD form each November, commencing with November 2018.

  • The due date of the form is November 30, 2018 (and by each November 30 thereafter).
  • The HIRD reporting is administered by MassHealth and the Department of Revenue (DOR) through the MassTaxConnect (MTC) web portal
  • Although only one HIRD form per employer is required, employer groups must report a separate HIRD form for each FEIN because MTC login credentials are tied to FEIN, so the employer must log into each FEIN MTC account they have and complete a HIRD form for each account

 

EMPLOYERS THAT CURRENTLY HAVE (OR HAD) SIX OR MORE EMPLOYEES in any month during the 12 months preceding the due date of the HIRD is form (November 30th of the reporting year) are required to complete the HIRD form.
AN INDIVIDUAL IS CONSIDERED AN EMPLOYEE of the employer (employed in any employment category) if the employer included the individual in any quarterly wage report to the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) during the 12 month reporting period.

 

THE PURPOSE OF THE HIRD FORM is to collect employer-level information about its employer-sponsored health insurance (ESI) offerings.

 

  • Employers are not required to report information about HRAs, health FSAs or HSAs on the HIRD form
  • Employers who do not offer health insurance are required to log into MTC and submit the HIRD form
  • There are no fines or penalties resulting from the information submitted on the HIRD form

 

THE GOAL OF THE HIRD FORM is to inform MassHealth about employers’ ESI offerings and assist MassHealth in identifying its members with access to qualifying ESI who may be eligible to enroll in the MassHealth Premium Assistance Program.

 

THE ULTIMATE GOAL of the new HIRD form is to allow more MassHealth members to enroll in the MassHealth Premium Assistance Program.

 

THE HIRD FORM MAY BE FILED ON MTC BY EITHER THE EMPLOYER OR ITS PAYROLL COMPANY; however, it’s the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the HIRD form is timely filed. If using a payroll company to file on MTC, the employer should coordinate HIRD reporting between the payroll company and the employer’s record keeper for health insurance information. Chances are the payroll company will not have the type of information necessary to complete the HIRD form.

 

A BENEFIT TO EMPLOYERS is that:

 

  • Employees enrolled in MassHealth’s Premium Assistance Program, are not included in the calculation of their employer’s obligation under the Employer Medical Assistance (EMAC) Supplement
  • Employees enrolled in ESI and receiving MassHealth coverage as a secondary payer are not included in their employer’s obligation under the EMAC Supplement

THE HIRD FORM WILL NOT BE USED:

 

  • In connection with any determinations regarding employers’ EMAC Supplement obligations
  • To impose any new fines or penalties related to employers’ ESI offerings (or lack thereof)
  • To collect any personal information about employees

THE MASSHEALTH PREMIUM ASSISTANCE PROGRAM helps eligible working individuals and families pay for qualifying ESI coverage. Eligible MassHealth members with access to qualifying ESI are required to enroll in available ESI. Members who are determined eligible for Premium Assistance may enroll in ESI without regard to any enrollment periods or other restrictions that apply to late enrollees for any group plan, as the MassHealth eligibility determination is considered a qualifying event.  Information  on the MassHealth Premium Assistance Program can be found on the MassHealth Premium Assistance web page: (https://www.mass.gov/service-details/other-health-insurance-and-masshealth-premiumassistance).

* * * * *

Richard A. Szczebak, Esq.  781-731-9933 | [email protected] Experience | Knowledge | Perspective

The foregoing has been prepared for the general information of MassAHU members. It is not meant to provide legal advice with respect to any specific matter and should not be acted upon without professional counsel. This material may be considered advertising under certain rules of professional conduct.

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Invitation to the 2018 Family Business Association Healthcare Seminar

Business Benefits’ CEO Matt Hollister, has been invited to present at an informative seminar hosted by the Family Business Association and sponsored by BCBS of MA.  The seminar is free to attend and will address a wide range of topics around health benefit plans.  Matt will be talking about how to engage employees to empower them and to help them become their own advocates.  Doing this, when combined with better information and incentives, will lead to more cost effective care and superior outcomes for the employees.

Topics include:
• A Health Care Legislative and Election Update;
• Putting the Benefit Back in Benefits and Giving Employers a Break;
• How to maximize your EBIDA by treating your health plan as a capital allocation strategy;
• Claims Administration, Enrollment Management and Compliance;
• HR moving from administrative tasks to strategic value through technologyWhen
November 2, 2018
8:30 AM –11:30 AM
Presentation and an interactive panel discussion
Includes breakfast and networking

Where
Needham Sheraton
100 Cabot St,
Needham, MA 02494

To register, please go to the following link:

https://www.fbaedu.com/fba-seminar-attendee-registration/

We hope to see you there!