Businesses rail against paid family leave program in hearing

Business leaders and others spoke out against the state’s draft regulations for a new paid family and medical leave program, the first phase of which begins this year, at the first public hearing on Wednesday afternoon at the State House.

With a regulation deadline looming and dozens of unanswered questions to sort through, the Department of Family and Medical Leave still has a ways to go before finalizing the specifics of the program.

The first of seven public listening sessions began with the introduction of the department’s first official appointed director, Bill Apline, an attorney with background in regulatory practices. Tom Waye, COO of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development; Mike Doheny, general counsel of the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development; and Jessica Muradian, deputy chief of staff of the Executive Office, hosted the hearing.

The new department will be in charge of overseeing the state-run $800 million paid family and medical leave program. Part of the state’s “grand bargain” deal enacted last year, employees will have up to 12 weeks of paid parental and family care leave per year and 20 weeks of paid leave for a personal medical complication beginning in January 2021.

Starting this year on July 1, however, employers must begin making contributions at a rate of 0.63 percent earned on the first $132,900 paid to each employee annually. This allocation is based on the DFML’s estimate of anticipated costs of the program.

During his testimony at the listening session, Christopher Carlozzi, the Massachusetts state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, strongly opposed the policy and its implications for businesses.

“Business owners are extremely anxious about this new law… this is a very complex piece of public policy and will impact nearly every resident of the commonwealth,” Carlozzi said in his testimony. “Many businesses are reducing their workforce because they cannot afford another new benefit.”

Read more of this Boston Business Journal article by Kalina Newman by clicking here.