Happy New Year to regular and new visitors to the Davis & Davis employment law blog. There are a few updates that both employees and employers should be aware of as we kick off the new year.
(1) Last year, on January 1st, all Massachusetts-based employees were eligible for leaves of absence based upon the PFML (Paid Family Medical Leave) Act. This state law provides employees significantly more protection and benefits than the federal FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act). Perhaps more importantly, under the PFML, the maximum weekly benefit increases from $850.00 per week to almost $1,100.00 per week. The PFML also has less restrictions, so it is easier for employees to get approved for PFML as compared to the FMLA. If you have any questions regarding leaves of absence, including but not limited to PFML, please call the law firm to speak with one of our attorneys.
(2) Additionally, the minimum wage in Massachusetts went up on January 1st from $13.00 to $14.25. While this is good news for minimum wage earners, employees in retail should recognize that the premium rate that is paid to employees for working on Sunday drops from 1.2 times the employee’s regular hourly rate to 1.1 times the employee’s regular hourly rate. While this does not seem significant, for employees making the minimum wage, every dollar matters. Next year, the premium for employees working in retail on Sunday is gone, so employees will only get their standard hourly rate.
(3) Massachusetts employers have struggled with the moving targets associated with pandemic compliance. It is now established that Massachusetts companies are allowed to create and implement Covid-19 policies, although these policies should not have a disparate impact on any group of employees. As an example, a Massachusetts employer would face legal exposure if it created a policy that was designed to ‘protect’ pregnant employees. Even well intentioned policies can backfire, so employers may want to contact their employment law advisors before implementing or changing their pandemic related policies.
Davis & Davis wishes everyone a safe and successful 2022.