Municipalities are not subject to the requirements of the state’s Paid Family and Medical Leave law, including payroll deductions and notice requirements, unless they adopt the law’s provisions by a majority vote of their legislative body, which no community has done so far.

By providing a local option for municipalities, the Legislature recognized that municipal employers are different from many private sector employers that do not provide paid leave benefits.

On July 9, however, the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development held a public hearing on a bill that would remove the local option for municipalities and mandate the application of the Paid Family and Medical Leave law.

The MMA testified in opposition to the bill, alongside Norwood General Manager Tony Mazzucco and Norwood Police Chief William Brooks III.

The bill (H. 1681/S. 1045) would impose a substantial financial burden on cities and towns, which have historically provided excellent paid sick, vacation and leave benefits to their workforce and have negotiated collective bargaining agreements to administer leave in ways that work for each municipality.

The MMA argues that the bill would make it more difficult for departments to schedule shifts – particularly in public safety and public works – and would particularly impact small towns, which may not be able to absorb its financial consequences. Filling positions to cover employees out on leave could double costs in many departments, which would result in a decrease in public services, staff layoffs and, ultimately, higher property taxes.

Employees covered by the law receive up to 12 weeks of paid family leave and up to 20 weeks of paid medical leave, in addition to existing accrued paid leave. The law also affords 26 weeks of paid family leave to care for a covered service member with a serious health condition.

For employers subject to the law, payroll deductions will begin on Oct. 1.

To weigh in on H. 1681/S. 1045, submit a letter in writing to the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development.

For more information about the Paid Family and Medical Leave law, visit www.mass.gov/orgs/department-of-family-and-medical-leave.

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