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Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act – effective 4/1/2018

Policy Purpose

Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, 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. The Company does not discriminate against or treat pregnant workers or applicants less favorably than other employees. We are prepared to support employees who are pregnant or new mothers with at least the minimum benefits mandated by law. This policy is complementary to the existing legal guidelines.

Elements

The Pregnancy Fairness Policy applies to all female employees of the Company, whom are pregnant or have a pregnancy-related condition.

  1. Company agrees to provide temporary, reasonable accommodations for employees who are pregnant or have a pregnancy-related condition, for as long as the pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition applies. Reasonable accommodations allow for the employee to perform the essential functions of the job while pregnant or experiencing a pregnancy-related condition, such as the need to express breast milk for a nursing child, unless doing so would pose an undue hardship on the Company.

Notice and Accommodations

For an employee to receive temporary reasonable accommodations, the employee must notify the Company of her pregnancy, and request for specific accommodations.

  • More frequent or longer paid or unpaid breaks
  • Time off to attend to a pregnancy complication or to recover from childbirth with or without pay
  • Acquisition or modification of equipment
  • Seating
  • Temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position
  • Job restructuring
  • Light duty
  • Private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk
  • Assistance with manual labor
  • Modified work schedules

The Pregnancy Fairness Act allows the Company to request documentation to support the need for accommodations, except for:

  • More frequent restroom, food or water breaks
  • Seating
  • Limitation on lifting objects over 20 pounds
  • Private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk

The Company can only deny a reasonable accommodation for an employee’s pregnancy or condition related to the employee’s pregnancy, including but not limited to lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child, if the Company can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the Company’s program, enterprise or business.

Undue Hardship: Under the law, the employer has the burden of proving undue hardship, which is defined as an action requiring significant difficulty or expense. In determining undue hardship, employers must consider the following factors:

  • The nature and cost of the needed accommodation
  • Overall financial resources of the employer
  • The overall size of the business of the employer with respect to the number of employees and the number, type and location of its facilities
  • The effect on expenses and resources or any other impact on the employer’s program, enterprise or business

Responsibilities of the Company

The Company agrees to:

  • Distribute a written notice to employees explaining their right to be free from discrimination in relation to pregnancy or a condition related to the employee’s pregnancy, including lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child, including the right to reasonable accommodations for conditions related to pregnancy pursuant to the new law.
  • Provide written notice in a handbook or other means of notice to all employees including:
  • New employees at or prior to their hire date
  • An employee who notifies their employee of their pregnancy or condition related to the employee’s pregnancy, not more than 10 days after such notification

The Company will not:

  • Take adverse action against an employee who requests or uses a reasonable accommodation in terms or conditions of employment including, but not limited to, failing to reinstate the employee to the original employment status or to an equivalent position, pay, seniority and other applicable credits when the need for reasonable accommodation ceases.
  • Deny an employment opportunity to an employee if the denial is based on the need to make a reasonable accommodation to the known conditions related to the employee’s pregnancy, including but not limited to lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child.
  • Require an employee affected by pregnancy or a condition related to pregnancy, including, but not limited to, lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child, to accept an accommodation that the employee chooses not to accept, if the accommodation is unnecessary to enable the employee to perform the essential job functions.
  • Require an employee to take a leave if reasonable accommodations can be provided for the known conditions related to the employee’s pregnancy, including but not limited to, lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child, without undue hardship on the Company.
  • Refuse to hire a person who is pregnant because of the pregnancy or condition related to the person’s pregnancy, including but not limited to, lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child, so long as the person is capable of performing the job functions of the position with reasonable accommodation, which would not impose an undue hardship on the Company.
If you would like to download this policy, please click on the link below:

http://www.hr360.com/images/users/hollisterinsurance/basket/Pregnant%20Workers%20Fairness%20Act%20(Policy%20-%20Hollister%20Insurance).docx

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Join Us for 2018 Q1 EMAC Supplement Determinations Have Landed — Are You Ready?

Please join Hollister Insurance on Friday, April 20, 2018, at 2 PM for a timely, one hour live webcast examining the new Mass EMAC Supplement, the latest DUA guidance and 2018 Q1 DUA determinations that have been released. Our featured Speaker will be Rick Szczebak, Esq. of RAS Law, P.C.

Register Now

Beginning with the quarter ended March 31, 2018, the DUA has begun making EMAC Supplement determinations for the very first time. Are you ready? Has your assessment surprised you? Please join us for this important informational webinar.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

View System Requirements

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Free Webinar: How to Comply with Cafeteria Plan Rules– March 28th, 12 PM EST

HR360’s attorney-developed webinar will highlight key Section 125 cafeteria plan rules, tax advantages, eligible benefits, and more. To register for this webinar, simply click on the link below!

Webinar: Section 125 Cafeteria Plan Rules
When: Wednesday, March 28th at 12:00 PM ET
Presented By: Kylan Johnson, Supervisor of Legal Content

Register Here for HR360’s Cafeteria Plan Rules Webinar

This important webinar will cover the following cafeteria plan topics:

  • Employer and employee tax advantages
  • Nondiscrimination and documentation requirements
  • Eligible benefits
  • Employer contribution rules
  • Mid-year election changes by employees
Sign up to attend this webinar today!
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2018 Employer Medical Assistance Contributions (EMAC) Payment Update

For those employers that are being assessed under the new Employer Medical Assistance Contribution (EMAC) Supplement, the payment statement will now include a line item for EMAC Supplement balance.  This Supplement only applies if the non-disabled employee was enrolled in Mass Health (not including the premium assistance program) or subsidized coverage through the Massachusetts ConnectorCare program for more than eight weeks during the quarter. Employers may begin submitting their wage filings for the first quarter in 2018 as of April 1, 2018.  The due date of unemployment contributions is April 30, 2018.

The submission and payment process has not changed, but will just include the new line item. The EMAC supplement contribution is 5% of annual wages for each affected employee, up to the annual wage cap of $15,000 which results in a maximum of $750 per employee per year. The contribution will not apply to any employees who earn less than $500 in wages in that quarter. 

Role of Third-Party-Administrators:

Third-Party Administrators (TPAs) who are currently assigned the payment role will be able to view the employer’s total liability, including the EMAC Supplement.  TPAs will also be able to see which employees triggered the Supplement, but only if they are assigned one of the new TPA roles. Effective immediately, employers will be able to assign one of the following roles:

  • EMAC Supplement View Only (view employee level detail, but can’t appeal)
  • EMAC Supplement Appeal Submission (view and appeal employee level detail)

To assign your TPA to one of these new roles, you must access your employer account and then go to:

  1. Employer Home
  2. Account Maintenance
  3. Third Party Administration Authorization
  4. Search for the TPA
  5. Select the TPA from the list
  6. Third Party Administrator Details, click modify

For more information please visit: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/new-tpa-roles-for-employer-medical-assistance-contributions-supplement-action-may

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2018 Federal Tax Withholding Guidance Released

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released Publication 15 (Circular E), Employer’s Tax Guide, for use in 2018. This publication:

  • Details employers’ federal tax responsibilities;
  • Explains the federal requirements for withholding, depositing, reporting, paying, and correcting employment taxes;
  • Lists the forms employers must give to their employees, those that employees must give to the employer, and those that the employer must send to the IRS and Social Security Administration; and
  • Features the tax tables to calculate the taxes to withhold from each employee.

Publication Highlights
Highlights of the 2018 publication include the following:

  • Social Security and Medicare Tax for 2018. The Social Security tax rate is 6.2% each for the employee and employer. The Social Security wage base limit is $128,400. The Medicare tax rate is 1.45% each for the employee and employer. There is no wage base limit for the Medicare tax.
  • 2018 Withholding Tables. The publication includes the 2018 Percentage Method Tables and Wage Bracket Tables for Income Tax Withholding.
  • Withholding Allowance. The 2018 amount for one withholding allowance on an annual basis is $4,150.

Click here to access the 2018 IRS Publication 15.

For additional tax information, please visit our section on Employer Tax Laws.

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Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, takes effect April 1, 2018

New Law Provides Reasonable Accommodation and Notice Requirements

Massachusetts has enacted the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which takes effect April 1, 2018. Highlights of the law are presented below.

Discrimination Prohibited 
The law is applicable to employers with 6 or more employees and generally prohibits employment discrimination based on pregnancy or a condition related to said pregnancy (e.g., lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child).

Reasonable Accommodation
It is an unlawful practice for a covered employer to deny a reasonable accommodation for an employee’s pregnancy or any condition related to pregnancy, if the employee so requests. However, there is an exception if the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would cause it undue hardship. It is also an unlawful practice to (among other things):

  • Take adverse action against an employee who requests or uses a reasonable accommodation in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment;
  • Deny an employment opportunity to an employee, if such denial is based on the employer’s need to make a reasonable accommodation to the known conditions related to the employee’s pregnancy; or
  • Require an employee affected by pregnancy (or a condition related to pregnancy) to accept an accommodation that the employee chooses not to accept—if such accommodation is unnecessary to enable the employee to perform the essential functions of the job.

Interactive Process 
Upon request for an accommodation from the employee or prospective employee capable of performing the essential functions of the position involved, the employee or prospective employee and the employer must engage in a timely, good faith, and interactive process to determine an effective, reasonable accommodation to enable the employee or prospective employee to perform the essential functions of the job.

Click here (§ 1E(c)) for information regarding certification, including certain accommodations for which the employer may not require certification.

Notice 
Written notice of the right to be free from discrimination in relation to pregnancy or a condition related to the employee’s pregnancy (including the right to reasonable accommodations for conditions related to pregnancy) must be distributed to employees. The notice must be provided in a handbookpamphlet, or other means of notice to all employees including, but not limited to:

  • New employees at or prior to the commencement of employment; and
  • An employee who notifies the employer of a pregnancy or of a condition related to the employee’s pregnancy, within 10 days of such notification.

An employer must provide written notice in a handbook, pamphlet, or by other means to its employees of the right to be free from discrimination in relation to pregnancy or a condition related to pregnancy, including the right to reasonable accommodations for conditions related to pregnancy, under the law (§ 1E) on or before April 1, 2018.

Click here to read the text of the law.  Please let us know if you have any questions.

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IRS Releases New Income Tax Withholding Tables

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released IRS Notice 1036, Early Release Copies of the 2018 Percentage Method Tables for Income Tax Withholding. The notice updates the income tax withholding tables for 2018, reflecting changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Employers should begin using the 2018 withholding tables as soon as possible, but not later than February 15, 2018. The new withholding tables are designed to work with the Forms W-4 that workers have already filed with their employers.

Click here to read IRS Notice 1036.

For additional tax information, please visit our section on Employer Tax Laws.

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Forms 1095 Due to Employees by March 2nd

Employers subject to the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) information reporting requirements are reminded that the deadline to furnish Forms 1095-B and 1095-C are quickly approaching. The reporting deadlines in 2018 are for reporting information on the 2017 calendar year, and are as follows:

  • Applicable large employers (ALEs)—generally those with 50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalents—must furnish a Form 1095-C to all full-time employees by March 2, 2018.
  • Self-insuring employers that are not considered ALEs, and other parties that provide minimum essential coverage, must furnish a Form 1095-B to responsible individuals (which may be the primary insured, employee, former employee, or other related person named on the application) by March 2, 2018.

For more on employer information reporting requirements, check out our comprehensive section on Information Reporting.

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New Tax Law Repeals Individual Mandate, Eliminates Tax Breaks for Several Fringe Benefits

President Trump has signed into law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which, among other things, effectively repeals the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate beginning in 2019, eliminates tax breaks for several fringe benefits, and creates a new tax credit for employers offering paid family and medical leave.Individual Mandate Repeal Effective in 2019
Under the Affordable Care Act, individuals are currently required to have minimum essential health coverage, qualify for an exemption from the requirement, or pay a penalty tax. This ACA provision is known as the “individual mandate.” Effective in 2019, the individual mandate is effectively repealed, as the penalty tax for noncompliance with the mandate will be reduced to $0.

Tax Breaks for Several Fringe Benefits Eliminated
Effective in 2018, the tax treatment of certain fringe benefits will be impacted as follows:

  • Employer contributions to an employee’s qualified transportation fringe benefits (including those for employees’ transit passes and parking) will no longer be deductible from the employer’s gross income.
  • Qualified moving expense reimbursements made by an employer will generally no longer be excludable from an employee’s gross income.
  • Qualified bicycle commuting reimbursements made by an employer will no longer be excludable from an employee’s gross income.
New Employer Tax Credit for Paid Family and Medical Leave
For tax years 2018 and 2019, employers that offer paid family and medical leave (as defined under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act [FMLA]) to employees may qualify for a newly established tax credit of up to 25% of the annual wages paid to those employees.To learn more about the tax consequences of various employer-provided benefits, visit our Employee Benefits section.