Massachusetts Attorney General (1.) Releases Paid Sick Leave Employee Verification Form, Sample Policy and Poster/Employee Notice and (2.) Announces Sick Leave Law Webinars and “In Person” Information Sessions

July 10, 2015 at 12:20 pm | Posted in Employment Law, Massachusetts Sick Leave Law | Leave a comment
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1. Documents

The Massachusetts Attorney General has posted the following items on her website which will be of interest to employers across the country that have employees who work primarily in Massachusetts that are now subject to the Massachusetts Sick Leave Act (MSLA):

  1. A model employee verification form designed to allow the employee to satisfy their reporting obligations to the employer if the employee uses paid (or unpaid ) sick leave;
  2. A sample sick leave policy that an employer can customize as they see fit; and
  3. An employee notice and poster. There is a poster requirement comparable to the FMLA poster requirement and the employee notice requirement can be complied with by either providing the modal notice or putting similar content in an employee handbook.

The sample policy and verification forms will be found under the “Sample Documents” tab and the sample Poster/Notice can be found under the “Notice for Posting” tab.

A link to the webpage with the referenced forms is here: Earned Sick Time Law – Mass.Gov

2.  Webinars and In-Person Information Opportunities

Web Based Information Sessions In-Person Information Sessions
Tuesday July 14, 2015: 2pm-4pm
Wednesday, July 22, 2015: 12pm – 2pm
3 Salem Square, Worcester, MA


Tuesday July 21, 2015: 2pm-4pm
Tuesday, August 4, 2015: 2pm – 4pm
Boston Public Library, Main Library, Salon Room


Tuesday July 28, 2015: 10am-12pm
Friday, September 11, 2015: 8am – 10am
Danvers, Location:TBD


Thursday July 23, 2015: 10am-12pm

Massachusetts Attorney General Announces Upcoming July Webinars and Information Sessions Regarding the Massachusetts Paid Sick Leave Act

July 1, 2015 at 10:26 am | Posted in State Laws | Leave a comment
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Yesterday, Maura Healy, the Massachusetts Attorney General announced that her office will be “holding another round of information sessions to make sure that all businesses have the support they need to successfully implement the law.”


Paid Sick Leave Webinars have been scheduled for July 7 at 10 a.m., July 14 at 2 p.m., July 16 at 10 a.m., July 21 at 2 p.m. and July 23 at 10 a.m. and can be accessed by logging on to<>.


Web-based information sessions have been scheduled for July 7 at 10 a.m., July 14 at 2 p.m., July 16 at 10 a.m., July 21 at 2 p.m. and July 23 at 10 a.m.. RSVP information will be posted on<>.


The Fair Labor Division and Community Engagement Division of the AG’s Office will be responsible for the second round of information sessions, many of which will be coordinated with local chambers of commerce. A more detailed list of the upcoming outreach events will be made available in the coming days and posted on the AG’s website.<>


The final Paid Sick Leave regulations can be found at this link: <>. The regulations include clarifications and adjustments to provisions regarding the accrual, use and payment of Earned Sick Time, employer size, notice requirements, and rules for requiring medical documentation. The final regulations also include clarifications on when employees can make up time instead of using it and how employers with existing leave policies can keep their own plans while complying with the law.


Second Chance Open Enrollment Through April 30 For ObamaCare: How Will Employers React If a Second Chance Enroller Triggers an Employer Mandate Penalty?

February 23, 2015 at 9:04 am | Posted in Affordable Care Act, Health Care | Leave a comment
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The Hill reported today that the Obama administration (through CMS) will hold a second enrollment period for ObamaCare this year to give people a chance to avoid a new tax penalty for going without insurance. The enrollment period will run from March 15 to April 30, at the height of tax filing season, officials said. The announcement does not address the issue of whether any form of transitional relief would be available to a large employer who, until now, may have avoided a penalty under the employer mandate because of the failure of an employee to sign up for ACA coverage and possibly receive a premium subsidy. Arguably, such an employer would now be exposed again since employees lacking coverage will have another bite at the ACA health coverage subsidy apple.

Congressional Democrats and advocacy groups had been pushing for the new enrollment period, arguing that millions of people are still unaware of the penalty and should be able to sign up for ObamaCare once they learn of it. “Our intention in doing this is not to increase numbers for numbers sake, it’s to make sure that if there were people who were unaware of the fee that they aren’t disadvantaged by that,” Andy Slavitt, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ deputy administrator, said on a call with reporters. The administration estimates that up to 6 million people will likely be forced to pay the fine for not having insurance during this year’s tax season, marking the first time that the penalty will be in effect. Officials said that they do not have an estimate for how many people will take advantage of the new enrollment period.
People signing up now will still have to pay a penalty for lacking insurance in 2014. Anyone who was uninsured last year will be hit with penalties of either $95 or 1 percent of their income — whichever is higher. That fine will spike this year to $325 or 2 percent of their income. Officials said that the new period is a one-year-only occurrence. “Our intention is that this is one year only for people who have not been in the communication loop around the tax penalty,” Slavitt said.
Separately, the administration announced that there had been an error on a tax return form for people with coverage under ObamaCare, causing some tax credits to be calculated either too high or too low. Officials said the problem affects around 50,000 people who have already filed their taxes, and that they are being contacted to correct the problem.
A link to the announcement can be found here: CMS Announces Special Enrollment Period for Tax Season

Democratic Pressure Builds to Reopen ACA Exchange Enrollment Through April

February 19, 2015 at 10:33 am | Posted in Affordable Care Act, Health and Human Services | Leave a comment
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The publication The Hill reported today that pressure is building on the Obama administration to give uninsured people a second chance to sign up for ObamaCare before they are required to pay a fine of $325 or 2% of their income, whichever is greater, during next year’s tax season. Democrats and several advocacy groups argue that people without insurance don’t realize they’re in danger of taking a significant economic hit.

“Millions upon millions of people are unaware about these penalties,” Ron Pollack, the executive director of the nonprofit group Families USA, said in a briefing Wednesday. The first time people will actually pay the fine is in this coming tax season. Just one-third of people without health insurance said they were aware of the healthcare law’s penalty in a March 2014 poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The administration estimates that as many as 6 million people will be forced to pay up this spring.

The pressure on the administration is coming from advocacy groups, Democratic lawmakers and states that are extending or adding to their enrollment periods. Minnesota on Wednesday became the second state to add a grace period through the end of tax season in April. California and New York – the two largest state exchanges – are also mulling an extension, as is Kentucky, state officials said Wednesday. California will decide by early next week whether to create the special period – an idea that the state’s health secretary said Wednesday that she supports. If the administration doesn’t provide another enrollment period, it could create a situation where residents of some states have more time to avoid the tax, while people on the 37-state federal exchange do not.

The administration hasn’t ruled out adding the enrollment period, and HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said Wednesday that she plans to make a decision by next Friday. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) is leading a group of 10 Democratic senators this week who wrote a letter to Burwell urging a new period. Separately, Sander Levin (D-Mich.), the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, signed a letter with two other Democrats to “strongly urge” the administration to give extra time.


2015 ACA Open Enrollment: More Than 6 Million Receive Premium Tax Credit

February 10, 2015 at 12:37 pm | Posted in Affordable Care Act, Health and Human Services, Health Insurance Marketplace | Leave a comment
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Yesterday the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released  a report outlining the impact of advanced premium tax credits on premiums in the Health Insurance Marketplaces. Almost 6.5 million individuals in the 37 states using the platform are estimated to qualify for an average of $268 per person/month in advanced premium tax credits. Among consumers who are signed up for 2015 coverage to date in the 37 states, 8 in 10 could choose a plan with a premium of $100 or less after tax credits, based on available options.

A copy of the full HHS announcement can be found here:

Almost 6.5 million consumers qualify for an average tax credit of $268 per month through the Health Insurance Marketplaces

Supreme Court to Determine if Same Sex Couples Have a Constitutional Right to Marry

January 19, 2015 at 10:15 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it will take up the issue of  whether there is a constitutional right that allows for gay marriage. This issue is broader than the courts 2013 reasoning in the Windsor case, where the Court focused on whether the Defense of Marriage Act could limit the definition of marriage to one man and one woman. At that time, the Supreme Court declined to each the broader issue that it will take up this year. The court is hearing an appeal from a ruling of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which in November upheld bans on gay marriage in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee. The 6th Circuit’s decision ended a streak of rulings striking down bans across the country  and compelled the Supreme Court to settle the split in lower courts. Attorney General Eric Holder said the Department of Justice will file a brief urging the Supreme Court to rule in favor of gay marriage. Court watchers expect another 5-4 ruling, but there is no consensus which way the Court will rule on the issue. A ruling is expected in June 2015.

Massachusetts Amends State Maternity Leave Act to Extend Leave to Males

January 15, 2015 at 9:00 am | Posted in MMLA, Regulations, State Laws | Leave a comment
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In his last week of office, Governor Patrick signed a bill into law that amends the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (MMLA) by expanding parental leave in Massachusetts for both female and male employees . Currently the MMLA only permits female employees with eight weeks of job-protected maternity leave for the birth or adoption of a child. Males will be able to receive eight weeks of job protected maternity leave as well. The effective date for the change is April 7, 2015.

This change will require attention by Massachusetts employers with fewer than 50 employees who are not subject to FMLA.

Although the effective date is April 7, 2015, as a practical matter, Massachusetts employers with fewer than 50 employees should appreciate that there is federal discriminatory risk under the EEOC if they do not grant maternity leave to males now. To that end, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination has cautioned employers that:

The MMLA, by its terms, provides eight weeks of maternity leave to female employees only. An employer, who complies with the MMLA by providing eight weeks of maternity leave to female employees only, does not violate a male employee’s right under Chapter 151B to be free from sex discrimination. However, an employer who provides leave to female employees only, and not to male employees, may violate the federal prohibitions against sex discrimination even though the employer has acted in compliance with the MMLA.


Congress To Vote This Week On Changing ACA Definition of Full Time Employee From 30 to 40 Hours

January 7, 2015 at 4:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Republican legislators have promised a vote this week on changing the ACA definition of a full time employee from 30 hours a week to 40 hours a week. The legislation has bipartisan support in the Senate, is expected to easily pass the House, and likely faces a veto if it reaches President Obama’s desk. Last year a similar bill was introduced by Senators Collins (Me.-R) and Donnelly (In-D) but the Democratic leadership at the time never scheduled it for a vote.

As of January 1, 2015, under the ACA, employers with 100 or more “full time employees” must offer health insurance to any employee who, on average, are expected to work more than 30 hours a week. Employers with between 50 – 99 employees are required to offer health insurance to anyone working 30 hours or more a week, starting in 2016. The Republican bill would raise the 30 hour threshold to 40 hours a week.


January 6, 2015 at 1:42 pm | Posted in Department of Public Health, ePHI, Health and Human Services, HIPAA | Leave a comment
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The Office of Civil Rights  in the Department of Health and Human Services has announced that, among other entities such as healthcare providers, it will audit approximately 100 employer sponsored health plans and 50 business associates in 2015. It is reported that:

  • Covered entities and business associates will have two weeks following receipt to respond to the initial data requests. OCR will not consider data submitted late.
  • OCR will conduct audits remotely through “desk audits.” Desk audits will be made using an updated audit protocol which OCR has not yet made available.
  • Audit participants will not have an opportunity to provide clarifications or supplemental information after responding to the initial data request.

Within 60 days following their submissions, audit participants will be presented with a draft version of OCR’s final report for review prior to publication. If your health plan has access to an employee’s protected health information (PHI), at a minimum, the following should be done:

  • Adopt written HIPAA policies and procedures addressing the HIPAA privacy, security, and breach notification rules;
  • Designate a HIPAA privacy official and a HIPAA security official;
  • Conduct a detailed analysis of the risks and vulnerabilities of electronic PHI;
  • Train those members of your workforce who have access to PHI.
  • Identify any HIPAA Business Associates, make sure you have a HIPAA Business Associate agreement with them and alert them to your expectations of them in regards to safekeeping your plan’s PHI



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