The Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (the “Department”) recently issued revised Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave (MA PFML) regulations for 2023.
These revised 2023 MA PFML regulations contain a new clarification regarding the health benefits maintenance provision, requiring employers to maintain health benefits during their employees’ MA PFML period. While this provision has been in place since MA PFML was fully implemented in 2021, this new clarification includes the language of “otherwise maintain,” which the Department states “shall be interpreted broadly to encompass any method of benefit maintenance or approximation of benefits that permits an employee taking family or medical leave to maintain access to health coverage for the duration of the leave on the same or equivalent terms, including the employee’s costs for such coverage, such as premium contributions, co-pays, and deductibles.”
The Department provides two key examples clarifying employer options to maintain health benefits for employees during their MA PFML period, outlined below:
- Employers may continue to pay the employer portion of the group health plan premium while an employee pays their employee portion, in accordance with the employer’s uniformly-applied policies or practices.
- Employers may also reimburse an employee out of its general assets for the employer portion of COBRA/mini-COBRA coverage (if an employee is eligible) so that an employee’s premium remains the same as when the employee was actively employed.
The revised 2023 regulations also clarify the following two significant points for employers:
- Employers are not required to provide for, contribute to, or otherwise maintain health benefits for employees who are not enrolled or not eligible for these employment-related benefits when their MA PFML period begins.
- Employers are not required to provide for, contribute to, or otherwise maintain health benefits for employees who resign during a MA PFML period or who are former employees when their MA PFML period begins.
MA PFML Background & Employer Next Steps
Click here for a previous Risk Strategies article outlining MA PFML updates for 2023 and a brief MA PFML refresher.
Employers with employees in Massachusetts are advised to take note of these revised 2023 MA PFML regulations clarifying employers' options in maintaining health benefits for employees during their MA PFML period.
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 Two other examples are also provided by the Department in connection with collective bargaining agreements and multi-employer plans.