The Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (MEPA), passed in 1945, was the first state law of its kind. But it hasn’t provided enough detail to be useful to employees or stiff enough penalties to be compelling for employers. The amendments to MEPA, which take effect July 1, 2018, make the law significantly more relevant. There are important action items for employers in the state:
The Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) was signed into law in July 2017; it provides various protections for applicants and employees who are pregnant or lactating. The law requires that employers provide notice to their workers by April 1, 2018, and goes into effect on that date.
“Substantively, there isn’t too much that changes from current ADA/FMLA standards, as pregnant employees have protections under existing federal and state anti-discrimination laws,” says Carly Fallon, Director of Human Resources at CheckWriters.
“However, this act does clarify and expand upon the rights of pregnant employees with respect to the workplace accommodations they must be afforded.”
One of the most consequential developments of 2018 – for both businesses and individuals – was the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
This bill – signed by the president at the end of last year – increases the standard deduction, removes personal exemptions, increases the child tax credit, limits or discontinues certain deductions, and of course, changes the tax rates and brackets themselves.
Now, the IRS has released a new tax withholding calculator to give employees the information needed to complete a new Form W-4, which they can submit to their employer if they choose to adjust their withholding.
The dust has settled around the new tax reform bill that was signed late last year, and one provision included in the law is getting attention from employers as well as human resource professionals.
The Paid Family and Medical Leave Credit is a new federal tax credit for employers who offer paid family or medical leave to their “qualifying employees.” For purposes of the credit, a “qualifying employee” is one who has been employed for at least one year, and did not receive compensation in excess of $72,000 in 2018.
Because employers can only claim the credit if they have a paid family leave policy on the books, HR departments have an opportunity to potentially decrease their organizations’ tax liability by ensuring the policy meets the standards set by the credit – pending review of anticipated IRS guidance.
On January 25, 2018, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it is now accepting 2017 EEO-1 Reports. This report is identical to the 2016 EEO-1 Report.
Employers with 100 or more employees (and federal contractors with 50 or more employees) have until March 31, 2018 to file their 2017 EEO-1 Report, using data from a “snapshot” taken during October-December 2017.
The data required is the same as it’s always been: number of employees by race, ethnicity, and sex, in each of the 10 EEO job categories.
The passage of Tax Reform in late December was followed by lingering questions from employers on how they should withhold taxes from their employees in 2018 – especially in light of anticipated new withholding tables and potential changes to the Form W4.
On January 11, the IRS released these new withholding tables, which reflect the increase in the standard deduction, repeal of personal exemptions, and changes in tax brackets and rates. The agency advised employers to begin using the new tables as soon as possible, and no later than February 15, 2018.
Employers in Massachusetts will recall that a new employer health assessment takes effect January 1, 2018.
The Employer Medical Assistance Contribution (EMAC) supplement is a new penalty, and will be levied on employers whose non-disabled employees either obtain health insurance from MassHealth (excluding the premium assistance program) or receive subsidized coverage through the Massachusetts ConnectorCare program instead of through an employer-sponsored health plan.
The EMAC supplement applies to employers with six or more employees, and the penalty amount is up to $750 for each worker receiving subsidized coverage.
Here’s what employers need to know about the EMAC:
As a business owner or Payroll/HR professional, there's a lot to review at this time of year in order to make sure you close out your 2017 payroll and tax data without errors or corrections. And a review of any Third-Party Sick Pay (abbreviated 3PSP) is probably (hopefully!) on your list.
Year-end deadlines are rapidly approaching - December 29 is the last day to post 2017 payroll data to meet filing deadlines. If any of your employees were issued sick pay by a third party (usually an insurance company) in 2017,take a look at these three steps to help you avoid last-minute payroll and tax adjustments.