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The New Paid Family Medical Leave Law in Massachusetts

/// Posted by Paula Drozdal Connors

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In 2018, Massachusetts signed into law a statute that provides paid family and medical leave (PFML) benefits to workers. Massachusetts becomes only the sixth state, along with the District of Columbia, to require paid leave. The state has yet to issue final regulations, but they did provide updated draft regulations at the end of March. Although benefits will not be paid until January 2021, employers have obligations to notify employees of this law now. The withholding and reporting obligations begin on July 1st, 2019.

Employers must notify their workforce about the law including the benefits and protections that apply to them. This is a two-part requirement and includes a workplace poster and a written notice to employees. 

POSTER REQUIREMENT:  Deadline 31. 2019

Employers must post a workplace poster in a highly visible location that outlines the plan benefits and protections. This poster must be provided in English and in any language that five or more employees speak as their primary language. Employers must comply with this rule only if the Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) has provided a translated poster in the applicable language. The workplace poster is currently available in the following languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Italian, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese.

The state website for important employer documents includes these posters: 

https://www.mass.gov/lists/paid-family-and-medical-leave-downloads-for-massachusetts-employers

WRITTEN NOTICE TO EMPLOYEES: DEADLINE JUNE 30, 2019

Employers who employ Massachusetts residents must also provide written notice to each employee (including 1099-MISC employees) of the availability for the Paid Family and Medical Leave Benefits, contribution rates and other provisions. Employers using the State plan may use the draft employee notification on the website or draft their own notice (content requirements apply). Employers who elect to use a private plan must provide the specific details of their plan in this notice. This document may be distributed electronically.

Employers must also obtain a signature from employees acknowledging receipt. If an employee refuses to sign this acknowledgement, they must sign a written confirmation of refusal to sign.

After the initial deadline, this notice must be provided to all new hires within 30 days or employment—including 1099-MISC contractors.

There is also a language requirement for the notice that is more severe than the poster requirements. This notice must be provided in an employee’s primary language, regardless of the number of employees who speak that language. There is also no requirement for the DFML to first provide a translated notice.

Draft notices are available at:  https://www.mass.gov/lists/paid-family-and-medical-leave-downloads-for-massachusetts-employers

Currently, written notices to employees are available in the following languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Italian, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese. Please check the above link for updates.

In addition to notifying employees of the law, employers will have to start reporting workforce wages to the Department of Family and Medical Leave as of July. The specifics as to what constitutes a “covered individual,” types of “qualified leave,” and amount of paid leave available can be found in the employer and employee toolkits, linked below.

Toolkits can be found on the state website at the following links:

Final regulations will be issued by July 1st, but employers should begin planning now for the law’s potential impact. In addition to the notices, employers need to consider:

  • Whether and how much tax will need to be deducted from employees’ pay?
  • How paid leave under the new law will affect existing leave policies and collective bargaining agreements?
  • Whether pursuit of a private plan option makes sense for your workforce?

I highly recommend reviewing the informational toolkits provided by Mass.gov. You can also register on the site for updates from the state.

Cyber Security: It’s a Nightmare Scenario

/// Posted by Cristie Hanaway

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On March 22, 2018, the city of Atlanta’s website was hit by a ransomware cyberattack. Residents couldn’t access online applications or pay water bills and parking tickets. Court proceedings were cancelled. An estimated ten years’ worth of documents, including police dash cam recordings, were lost. It was five days before city government employees could turn on their computers. The city may spend more than $10 million to fully recover.

Whether you run a city, a multi-million-dollar corporation, or a small mom-and-pop business, you’re susceptible to cyberattack. According to the U.S. Council on Economic Advisors, malicious cyberattacks (deliberate attempts by an individual or organization to breach another’s information system) cost the U.S. economy between $57 billion and $109 billion in 2016. Former Cisco CEO John Chambers once observed, “There are two types of companies: those that have been hacked, and those who don’t yet know they have been hacked.”

How cyber insurance can help

Cyber insurance doesn’t prevent cybercrime, but it can protect you and your business after a security breach.

A good policy can cover:

  • Costs of a forensics investigation to determine the type of attack and how to repair it.
  • Monetary losses due to network downtime, data recovery, crises management and reputation repair.
  • Lost income (net profit before taxes) that a business suffers due to interruption or degradation of service, or for the failure of your computer system caused by a network security failure.
  • Reasonable and necessary expenses paid for, or incurred by, your business as a result of a cyber incident.
  • Data breach notification costs and credit monitoring for affected customers or employees.
  • Lawsuits and costs incurred in investigation and legal defense, including monetary amounts you’re legally obligated to pay on account of third-party liability claims against you and your business. These claims may arise from actual/alleged failure of network security or you/your business’s actual/alleged failure to protect personal, protected or confidential or proprietary corporate information.
  • Extortion threats, ransom payments and directly related expenses as a result of: a threat to bring down a network; to alter, corrupt or destroy digital data; to restrict or inhibit access to you or your business’s computer system; or to release or destroy sensitive, confidential information.

Cyberattacks aren’t going away; in fact, they’re becoming more complex and affecting businesses of all sizes. Be prepared and know the contractual requirements and legislation around managing cyber risks.

Contact your Sapers & Wallack/Hilb Group of New England advisor today to learn how cyber security insurance can protect you.

Want to learn more? Listen to our podcast!

Cristie Hanaway, Senior Vice President of Property & Casualty at the Hilb Group of New England, part of the Sapers & Wallack organization, answers questions about our April blog, “Cyber Security: It’s a Nightmare Scenario“.

 

Listen to our podcast here:

 

What is a Roth IRA and Why Do I Need One?

/// Posted by Scott Tuxbury

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There’s a lot to like about investing in a Roth IRA, Roth 401(k) or Roth 403(b), especially if you’re young or expect to be in the same (or higher) income tax bracket when you retire. Any money you invest in a Roth grows tax-free—even when you cash out in retirement—and it can be invested in a number of ways, from stocks and bonds to mutual funds. Another plus: the 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), makes Roth IRAs even more attractive because they can protect your investment from future tax rate increases.

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Scott Tuxbury, Vice President and Leader for the Retirement and Wealth Management Practices at Sapers & Wallack answers 3 questions about our March blog, “What is a Roth IRA and Why Do I need One?” 

 

Listen to our podcast here:

Reimagining Retirement Distribution Planning

/// Posted by Scott Tuxbury

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Retirement distribution planning is not what it used to be. People are living longer, cost of living expenses are on the rise, and healthcare costs are easily outpacing wage increases and the market. Now, more than ever, creating and sticking to a thorough retirement savings plan is necessary to ensure that your latter years and legacy are what you intend them to be.

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Scott Tuxbury, Vice President and Leader for the Retirement and Wealth Management Practices at Sapers & Wallack answers 3 questions about our February blog, “Reimagining Retirement Distribution Planning”

Listen to our podcast here:

 

Financial Incentive Guidelines for Wellness Programs

/// Posted by Tom Connors

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Happy New Year to all, and get those Super Bowl plans ready!

Unless you are currently offering a well-organized & exciting wellness program that encourages your employees to get out and take walks at lunch, count their steps, eat healthy, and even consider throwing that pack of cigarettes (or vapes for you youngsters) in the trash,  all those wellness programs that took a ton of our time to plan and got approved by management, that seemed progressive and many times “fun”, just got a kick in the pants!  Where do we go from here?

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Tom Connors, Managing Director of Group Benefits for the Hilb Group – part of the Sapers & Wallack organization – answers 3 questions about our January blog, “Financial Incentive Guidelines for Wellness Programs”

Listen to our podcast here:

 

Universal Life Insurance: A Rebuttal

/// Posted by Wayne Slattery

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‘Universal Life Insurance, a 1980s Sensation, Has Backfired’

“A long decline in interest rates caused premiums to soar when they were supposed to stay level.” – Wall Street Journal

As soon as I read this headline in the Wall Street Journal I was surprised by how misleading it was, and decided to write a response.  A little bit about me, I started my career in financial services with MetLife in 2004 at the age of 24.  I spent 13 years with them until they sold their whole financial division in July of 2017.  MetLife was a giant in the life insurance industry and a main player in providing the Universal life insurance product, specifically the type mentioned in the attached article.  Many evenings I would make phone calls, receive calls from policy holders, or meet with policy owners to give them the bad news:  Your policy is “blowing up”. This was a term we used when someone had a policy where there was no more cash and the premium was skyrocketing.  Many, as you can imagine, were not thrilled to see or hear from me in this instance.    We will discuss later how I was able to help most people continue their coverage, but first I’d like to discuss some basics of the policy itself.

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