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State Issues Guidance on Private Options for Paid Leave

Posted on April 9, 2020

It’s easy to forget amid the upheaval of the COVID-19 crisis that Massachusetts remains on target to begin its paid family and medical leave (PFML) program on January 1, 2021.

Among the uncertainties for employers has been the process of opting out of the state system and covering their family and medical leave obligations through private insurance. The state has now provided guidance on that process for insurance carriers developing private insurance products.

The Massachusetts Division of Insurance (DOI) on April 3 released Filing Guidance 2020 – A: Paid Family and Medical Leave.

Previously, insurance carriers issued an Insurance Declaration Document (IDD) to employers as proof of satisfying paid family and medical leave insurance requirements. Coverage through private insurance is required to commence no later than January 1, 2021 (for medical leave insurance) and July 1, 2021 (for family leave insurance). Employers who qualify are exempt from remitting contributions to the Family and Employment Security Trust Fund.

The new Filing Guidance includes a Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) Policy Template, which outlines the standard provisions that PFML private insurance policies must contain in order to meet the exemption requirements. The guidance documents are the result of a collaboration between the DOI, the Department of Paid Family and Medical Leave, and life and accident insurance companies to ensure consistency in PFML insurance products offered in the Massachusetts employer marketplace.

Private Plan Updated Guidance:

  • Insurance carriers will submit their policy forms to the DOI for review on or before June 3.
  • After the DOI reviews the policy forms using a PFML Policy Forms Checklist, insurance carriers will issue policies to their employer policyholders.
  • Previously approved exemption applicants will be required to verify the use of an approved policy during their renewal period. The DFML will request policy form numbers from employers at the time of exemption renewal and will update its website to describe these procedures at a later date. If an employer has already been granted an exemption there is no action needed at this time
  • Employers who have secured PFML private insurance coverage but have not filed an application for an exemption must complete a Request for Exemption using the Department of Revenue’s web-based filing system, MassTaxConnect. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and specific deadlines and timelines are explained further on the website.
  • Employers filing for a new exemption who have not yet received a policy form number from an insurance carrier should submit an IDD signed by both a representative of the employer and a representative of the insurance carrier confirming sufficient PFML private plan insurance coverage.
  • For those employers filing for a new exemption that were issued a policy form number from their insurance carrier prior to filing the Request for Exemption, please submit an IDD with the policy form number listed on the document or provide the policy form number when submitting the exemption application on MassTaxConnect.

The DOI does not regulate self-insured employers. Self-insured employers should not make submissions to the DOI. However, employers seeking a self-insured exemption may use the standards listed in the PFML Policy Template to ensure that their self-administered PFML private plans comply with the PFML statute and regulations.

AIM Resources

  1. For more information email Brad MacDougall or call 617-262-1180 to learn more about our public policy work on PFML.
  2. Click here to learn more about AIM email us or call us at 617-262-1180
  3. Click here to learn more about private insurance plan for PFML.
  4. Click here to learn more about how AIM HR Solutions can help you with your company PFML program
  5. Click here for the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave
  6. Click here to listen to AIM’s March 26 webinar regarding the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and slides here
  7. Click here to learn more about upcoming webinar topics to address COVID-19