AIM Seeks Improvements to Paid Leave Law

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AIM Seeks Improvements to Paid Leave Law

Economy HR & Employment Law News | July 1, 2021
By: Sam Larson

As the final phase of the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) law takes effect today, Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) is calling on lawmakers to make improvements to the program.

Employees throughout the commonwealth may use their PFML benefits as of today to care for a family member with a serious health condition. Implementation of leave for family care completes the phased launch of the 2018 PFML law that was hammered out by business, progressive advocates, and elected officials.

AIM, in a letter to Massachusetts Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Ronald Mariano, said the collaborative process by which PFML was adopted can serve as a model for significant policy change in the future.

At the same time, AIM Executive Vice President of Government Affairs Brooke Thomson urged the legislative leaders to approve proposed updates that have been jointly endorsed by the business community and Raise Up Massachusetts, the progressive group that initially proposed the law:

  • H. 2048 an act relative to the creation of a paid family and medical leave advisory boardwould establish a board of non-government representatives to oversee the department and ensure the long-term health and quality of the program. 
  • H. 2047 an act relative to unemployment insurance benefits for replacement workers hired under the family and medical leave act will encourage employers to hire temporary replacement workers for their employees on extended leaves and prevent lossesin productivity.  

AIM also is concerned about the long processing and wait times at the Department of Paid Family and Medical Leave (DFML).

“While we appreciate the difficulties associated with building a new agency to administer this benefit, lengthy delays in payments are hurting eligible claimants as they try to navigate an already difficult family or medical event,” Thomson wrote in her letter.

“Also, the high claim rejection rate at the department is frustrating both employers and employees as many legitimate claimants must wait as they appeal department decisions.

AIM supports program integrity but encourages the department to strike a necessary balance between speed and thoroughness.”

AIM is also encouraging DFML to issue additional guidance on intermittent leave, a provision that is particularly challenging for employers to implement. In addition, employers currently have limited access to claims data and AIM believes more regulatory flexibility in this area will help employers plan leaves that work best for everyone involved.  

Contact Sam Larson at slarson@aimnet.org.