APPLICATION MATERIALS ARE NOW AVAILABLE at http://www.mcdfc.com/about/article/application-storm-loan-fund
The Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation, a state government supported lending agency that serves small businesses, just announced a "winter storms relief" program. The total amount available for lending in this program is one million dollars. Any small business that has lost working capital revenues due to the recent extreme winter weather can apply for a loan of from $5,000 up to $10,000. The loans carry interest at the rate of 5% annually, would have to be repaid in three years with the first installment due in six months, and have no penalty for early repayment. Application materials should be available later this week (March 3-7). If you have any questions or need assistance pursuing one of these loans, please don't hesitate to contact me at 617-872-8648.
APPLICATION MATERIALS ARE NOW AVAILABLE at http://www.mcdfc.com/about/article/application-storm-loan-fund
What do you think of this bill sponsored by Rep. Livingstone before the state legislature that would require Massachusetts employers to: (1) refrain from finding out information about job candidates’ pay histories; (2) disclose the minimum pay for all advertised job openings; and (3) allow other employees to discuss their own pay levels? Would it promote greater wage equality for women as its supporters maintain, or be an unnecessary and intrusive burden on small business owners?
In any event, the issue of wage equality is currently garnering a high level of attention – witness Patricia Arquette’s Oscar acceptance speech – and this kind of legislation warrants attention from Massachusetts employers.
Here is a front page story from the February 18, 2015 Boston Globe that should serve as a reminder to all independent and private schools, as well as small businesses and other nonprofits involved with a “place of public accommodation,” about the PR and legal problems of not being vigilant in complying with Title III of the ADA. If you have any questions about the complicated facilities requirements of this law and its accompanying regulations please don’t hesitate to call me at 617-872-8648.
Although the Massachusetts’ “model legislation” on concussion protocols mentioned in this 2/16/15 Boston Globe editorial only applies to public schools and those private schools that are part of MIAA, other private and independent schools are advised to follow those protocols, and even consider going further with monitoring devices as the editorial urges, in order to help protect their student athletes and avoid potential liability. http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/editorials/2015/02/16/football-should-embrace-technology-prevent-monitor-concussions/mU6GMgaJkisVYTSyavl6PP/story.html
The Massachusetts concussion protocols for public and other MIAA schools are set forth at http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/com-health/injury/105-cmr-201.pdf
Attention Massachusetts Independent School Board Members and Administrators (especially Athletic Directors)
Check out this Boston Globe article of February 9, 2015 describing the movement toward requiring public schools (and private school members of the MIAA) to conduct background checks of referees/officials of athletic contests. Independent schools should also consider doing such background checks to protect their student-athletes and avoid potential liability.
Don’t hesitate to call me at 617-872-8648 if you have any questions or need any assistance with background checks or other legal issues involving your school.
Attention Massachusetts Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility Management and Board Members – New Dementia Care Regulations Now In Effect
Check out this Boston Globe report on February 9, 2015 about the failure of many nursing home and assisted care facilities to comply with the new Massachusetts dementia care regulations. Those regulations took effect last year (two years after the authorizing legislation was passed). The new regulations can be found at 105 CMR 150.22-150.29. All facilities offering longer term treatment to patients with Alzheimer’s or other dementia conditions must provide dementia training to their care giving staff members. Initially, the training must be for at least eight hours and include some specific items relating to dementia patients and their families, as well as an evaluation (test) that the staff member must pass in order to keep working with dementia patients. After the initial training, the facility is required to provide similar training of at least four hours, with an accompanying evaluation, on an annual basis. There are additional requirements for a facility which in any way indicates that it “is capable of providing specialized care for residents with dementia.” Such facilities must: (1) employ a therapeutic activities director dedicated to dementia residents; (2) have in place a therapeutic activities program of at least 8 hours of such activities daily; and (3) meet specified requirements for (i) the location of the dementia unit, (ii) access to indoor common areas and outdoor recreation space, (iii) types of lighting, floors, walls and ceilings, and (iv) control of noise, security and egress.
Updated - Boston Globe February 11, 2015 editorial on same subject:
Non-compliance with the new Massachusetts regulations on dementia care could result in lawsuits costing long-term care facilities significant damages. If you have any questions about these regulations, please don’t hesitate to call me at 617-872-8648.
Most Massachusetts small businesses and nonprofits (including independent schools) will soon be explicitly mandated to provide the same leave benefits to fathers as they’re required to provide to mothers. The new law was signed on the last day of former Governor Patrick’s tenure in January of 2015. It revises the provisions of M.G.L. c. 149, §105D which had been in effect since 1972 and only explicitly mandated maternity leave, not paternity leave.
Applicability – The new Parental Leave law applies to all Massachusetts employers having six (6) or more employees, except for nonprofits that are organized as fraternal associations or social clubs. Unlike the new Massachusetts Sick Leave Law (see blog posting below), the new Parental Leave Law is unclear on whether temporary and part-time employees count when considering the number of employees. However, only full-time employees who have worked for three consecutive months, or employees who have completed a company-imposed probationary period, are entitled to the parental leave.
Effective Date – April 7, 2015
Amount of Parental Leave – Each qualified employee must receive at least eight weeks leave for the purpose of “preparing for or participating in the birth or adoption of a child, and caring for a newborn or newly adopted child.” (quoted language from old MCAD guidelines). A “child” includes anyone under 18 being adopted or placed with a qualified employee (or under 23 if disabled). The eight weeks does not have to be paid leave unless the company has a policy providing for paid parental leave. Employers are also free to have policies giving employees more than eight weeks. If two parents work for the same employer, the employer can restrict their combined parental leave to eight weeks (or whatever greater amount is provided for in the employer’s policy).
Advance Notice of Parental Leave – Employees seeking to use parental leave are required to give at least two (2) weeks’ notice prior to both the start and end of the intended parental leave, unless there are circumstances “beyond the [employee’s] control” in which case the notice must be “as soon as practicable.”
Workplace Notice of Law – An employer subject to this law must post in the workplace a notice of the how it is meeting the law’s requirements.
Consequences if Employer Violates Law - An employee who believes his or her employer has not provided the mandated parental leave rights may bring a claim for discrimination to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) under M.G.L. c. 151B and if successful, recover actual damages, punitive damages and attorney fees. The minimum obligation an employer has toward a qualified employee is to keep in place his or her job (or a substantially similar one) while the employee is out on parental leave. However, that obligation would be lifted if economic or other operating conditions necessitated a general layoff of similarly situated employees during the parental leave.
The MCAD will presumably issue updated regulations and guidelines on the new Parental Leave law to replace the now outdated ones that applied to “maternity leave.”
Impact - Prior to this law taking effect, male employees of larger Massachusetts employers (i.e. those having fifty or more employees) could have taken a paternity leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of up to twelve (12) weeks. Additionally, some Massachusetts employers, in order to avoid potential discrimination claims, may already have policies in place stipulating that male employees are entitled to paternity benefits equal to the maternity benefits of female employees. It should be noted, however, that the new Massachusetts Parental Leave law clearly does change things for those small employers who did not previously provide for paternity benefits.
What do you think of the new Massachusetts Parental Leave law? Is it fair or onerous to businesses? Does it provide employees with enough of a benefit? Feel free to comment below. Also feel free to call me at 617-872-8648 if you would like to discuss the specific impact of this law on your business, organization or school.
WISP stands for “written information security program.” If you’re a Massachusetts business, school or nonprofit, or even if you operate in another state and happen to have Massachusetts customers, students, clients, members or employees, it’s almost certain that you’re required to have one and follow it. If you don’t, you could face major fines whether or not personal information becomes breached.
Hopefully, your company, school, organization or entity is aware of the 2010 Massachusetts law that mandated WISPs and already has one in place. If not, set forth below are links to a “Small Business Guide” (with general applicability to schools and other nonprofits) published by the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, as well as to a “Compliance Checklist” published by the same Office.
If you have any questions about WISPs, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 617-872-8648.
A bill has been filed in the Massachusetts legislature which would revise the new voter-approved Massachusetts Sick Leave law described in detail below by (1) postponing its effectiveness from July 1, 2015 to January 1, 2016; (2) exempting certain workers, such as executives and interns, from coverage; (3) imposing stricter requirements on employees for certifying sickness; and (4) allowing employers greater discretion in determining permissible increments of time for sick leave (instead of requiring the smallest increment that results in payable wages). STAY TUNED!
I am the proud product of a public elementary and secondary school education. However, having taught in both public and private schools, I’ve come to appreciate the one glaring advantage of the private or INDEPENDENT schools. It’s their flexibility. It fosters teacher-induced innovations that greatly increase the chances of reaching each and every student, leading them to become motivated, disciplined and active learners. It’s not that this won’t happen in the public schools. It’s just less likely, as so persuasively stated by the public school student who wrote this recent op-ed piece: