On May 18, 2020, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced, a 4-Phase reopening process for Massachusetts businesses, both essential and non-essential.
Last week, Massachusetts Governor, Charlie Baker announced a four-phase reopening strategy for the Commonwealth. Each of the four phases (called “Start,” “Cautious,” “Vigilant,” and “New Normal”) will see gradual reopening of additional industries with lessening restrictions as warranted by data on testing, new cases, and deaths attributable to COVID-19.
Continue Reading Massachusetts Announces Plans for First Phase of Reopening
The Massachusetts-based Pioneer Institute – a well-respected public policy research body – has issued a “Checklist for Employers” preparing to re-open their facilities. The comprehensive checklist states that:
“While it is impossible to fully eliminate all risks associated with reopening in the COVID-19 setting, an employer may be able to significantly mitigate and reduce risks, such as workplace hazards and employment issues, by following some or all of the recommendations” set forth in the Checklist.
On Friday, May 1, Governor Baker issued COVID-19 Executive Order No. 31 requiring face coverings in public places where social distancing is not possible. The Order provides that effective Wednesday, May 6, 2020, any person over 2 years of age, within a public place and who cannot maintain social distancing – defined as maintaining a distance of 6 feet from others – “shall cover their mouth and nose with a mask or cloth face covering[.]” The new mandate “applies to all workers and customers of businesses and other organizations open to the public as ‘essential businesses.’”
Continue Reading Massachusetts Now Requires Cloth Face Coverings
UPDATE: March 23, 2020
Governor Baker announced a statewide “Stay at Home” order, which will begin , March 24 at noon and last at least until April 7. All non-essential businesses will be ordered to cease operations for the same time period.
One of the hallmarks of the Americans with Disabilities Act is that employers are required to have a dialogue—known as the “interactive process”—with an employee who requests or appears to be in need of an accommodation. A recent case, Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination v. Tufts Medical Center, Docket No. 10-BEM-01133 (Dec. 18, 2019), provides some guidance for how an employer can fulfill its obligation to determine whether an employee’s disability can be accommodated.
In 2006, after about four years of working as an inpatient nurse at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, the Complainant was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and lung disease. The following year, she was excused from overtime responsibilities as an accommodation, but still worked without other restrictions. In the spring of 2009, Complainant took medical leaves and by the summer, had exhausted her job protection; in order to return to the nursing pool at Tufts Medical Center, Complainant was required to apply for vacant jobs. By October of 2009, she was cleared to return to work with no restrictions.
On September 5, 2019, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (“DFML”) issued new guidance on when employers must count 1099-MISC workers as part of their workforce for purposes of the Paid Family and Medical Leave (“PFML”) program. In its press release announcing the new guidance, the DFML stated that the guidance was issued after meetings with representatives from hundreds of businesses across Massachusetts during which the businesses consistently sought clarification on whether they are required to collect contributions from, and report on, 1099-MISC workers.
Continue Reading Massachusetts Clarifies When 1099-MISC Workers Should be Counted for Purposes of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act Program
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey released her fourth annual Labor Day Report this week. As in past years, the report summarizes the AGO’s Fair Labor Division’s enforcement activities over the past year, and provides insight into the office’s priorities and initiatives in the enforcement of the Commonwealth’s wage and hour laws.
A collective sigh of relief could be heard across the Commonwealth yesterday as anxious business owners, insurers, and employment lawyers heard the news that Massachusetts government leaders had agreed to a three-month delay of the implementation of the first-in-the-nation Paid Family and Medical Leave law.
With a July 1 deadline to begin making payroll deductions looming, many questions remained about the law. Are the deductions pre-tax or post-tax? (We still don’t know.) Which employees and independent contractors are covered? (It’s complicated.) Should employers seek an exemption by adopting a private plan? (Maybe?) With the deadline now moved to October 1, legislators and employers have some much-needed breathing room to answer these and other questions about the law.
The Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave has issued proposed regulations which are scheduled to go into effect July 1, 2019.
Although some of the proposed regulations may change – and there is a push on by certain business groups to have the start date pushed to October – businesses are well advised to…