Updated and accurate job descriptions serve many important functions for an employer, including – but certainly not limited to – establishing essential functions of a job for purposes of the Americans with Disabilities Act and its state law counterparts; determining whether a reasonable accommodation is available for a disabled employee under those same statutes; evaluating whether a particular position is exempt or non-exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act; and managing performance. As of January 1, 2021, updated and accurate job descriptions are also important for purposes of complying with the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Law (“PFML”).

As of January 1, 2021, most of the benefits established by PFML become available to employees who work in Massachusetts. For employers who participate in the state-run program (i.e., those who are not wholly insured by a private plan), updated and accurate job descriptions will play an important role in complying with the procedural requirements of Department of Family and Medical Leave (the “Department”).

mployees who want to apply for PFML leave must do the following at least 30 days in advance of the anticipated start of leave (unless a delay is beyond the employee’s control, in which case the employee should do so as soon as is practicable):  (1) notify the employer of the need for leave and the anticipated start date; and (2) apply for leave with the Department of Family and Medical leave online here.

Within five business days after receiving an application, the Department will notify the employer of the employee’s application and request that the employer provide certain information to the Department within ten business days. Among the information required by the Department is a description of the employee’s position.

In addition, when PFML leave is related to an employee’s own serious health condition, the employer may require a fitness-for-duty certification as a condition of the employee’s return to work, provided that the employer has a uniformly-applied policy or practice for all similarly-situated employees. If an employer chooses to implement this requirement, it must provide the employee with a job description and notice of this requirement within ten business days of the notice of approval of leave from the Department.

Given the roles that job descriptions have in the procedures for applying for and receiving PFML benefits, it is advisable that employers revisit those descriptions to ensure that any information they will be providing to the Department or an employee on PFML leave is accurate and relevant.

If you have any questions about the Massachusetts PFML or need assistance evaluating and updated your organizations job descriptions, Beck Reed Riden LLP’s employment attorneys are available to assist.

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