We have had a conversation this morning with Bill Alpine, Director of the Department of Paid Family & Medical Leave for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The DFML is developing the specific process by which a church may opt in to the PFML program. The process will be outlined on the MassTaxConnect website after October 1, 2019. Employers will not be required to begin withholding taxes until after they have opted in.
As noted on the DFML website, beginning January 1, 2021, employees will be able to take paid leave if they have worked for at least 15 weeks and have earned $4,700 or more during the previous 12 months. Therefore, your church should make plans to discuss this benefit during the fall months so that you are ready if you choose to opt in; a majority vote of your governing board will be required. We will develop a more specific guide to the process and discussion in the coming weeks.
For those who do decide to opt in, note that Intuit is working on their QuickBooks payroll tax update, which will be available in late September.
Please check back here for the latest updates. Thank you for your patience with this!
We are still pursuing answers to a number of our questions about whether and how churches may opt in to the new Family and Medical Leave system.
However, we are assured that there will be no particular deadline for religious institutions to apply to opt in. Therefore, there is no need for churches to worry about the rapid approach of October 1st.
If you are anxious to apply to opt in, we are told that the first step is to go to www.mass.gov/contactdfml. Fill out the contact form saying that you represent an exempt church entity, that your church has employees, and that you would like to file a notice of election to opt in.
We are not yet clear on what happens from there, and we are still seeking answers to a number of questions including the tax status of payroll deductions. We hope to have more information soon.
As of June 24, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has reversed their March 29 guidance regarding the participation of religious institutions in the Paid Family & Medical Leave program. Churches will not automatically be covered employers, but will be able to opt in to the program. That process is being developed and will be ready well before October 1.
DO NOT send notifications to your employees or contractors at this time. If you have already notified your employees, we will provide an updated notification as soon as it is available, including a way for you to determine whether or not your church will choose to participate and make this benefit available to your employees.
Watch for updated resources!
The start of contribution withholding has been delayed from July 1 until October 1st.
The Rev. Karen McArthur of Congregational Finance LLC, and Dawn Hammond, Associate Conference Minister for Policy and Finance, have prepared materials to help church leaders comply with the new law. Church Treasurers, Finance Committees and Personnel Managers should carefully review the (updated) downloadable materials here.
Note that there are some questions for which we are still seeking answers. We will add to the web resources as further information becomes available.
For more information contact:
The Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave, Charles F. Hurley Building, 19 Staniford St., 1st Floor, Boston
617-626-6565 ~ www.mass.gov/DFML