5 Things Every MA Employer Should Know about the “Grand Bargain” Act

September 20, 2018

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has seen a massive influx of new legislation, all with the aim of improving conditions for workers. Along with the Equal Pay Act implemented in July, Massachusetts has also passed the Grand Bargain Act, effective August of 2019.

According to House speaker Robert DeLeo, the latest measure “strikes the right balance of empowering employees, supporting our hardworking residents and ensuring that businesses can continue to provide good, steady jobs.”

The Act breaks down into three simple components. Here is everything you need to know about the new legislation:

  1. Sales Tax Holiday

The Grand Bargain Act will institute a two-day weekend sales tax holiday during which sales taxes on goods may be reduced or waived. Measures such as these aim to increase the buying power of consumers, therefore increasing profits for business owners.

Sales tax holidays tend to place constraints on which items are eligible. The Grand Bargain Act, however, appears to have some of the broadest applications. Check out this chart to see how the tax holiday may affect you.

While the act goes into effect generally in August of 2019, a specific date for this holiday has yet to be announced.

  1. Minimum Wage Increase

The debate over what makes a fair minimum wage has gained momentum in the political arena and Massachusetts legislature has sought to respond to the outcry with a solution that will serve employers and employees alike.

The raise in minimum wage will be gradual, giving employers time to figure out how businesses will compensate for the expenses now associated with payroll cost.

The end-goal of the minimum wage raise is $15/hour and will be accomplished by an increase in wages over the next 5 years. Simultaneously, wages for tipped workers will also rise to $6.75 over the five-year span, beginning in January of 2019.

The new legislation also aims to adjust Sunday and Holiday pay to conform to that of the majority of other states. According to an article from Boston.com, “the law gets rid of the requirement that retailers pay an overtime wage to Sunday and holiday workers.” But it does make the distinction that employees cannot be required to work on those days.

Since these measures are soon to go into effect, it is vital that your payroll professionals begin preparing now for the adjustments they may soon implement.

  1. Paid Family and Medical Leave

A topic at the forefront of many discussions regarding employee working conditions reform is paid family and medical leave. The third component of the Grand Bargain Act includes a new program concerning this, but it also makes necessary accommodations for a number of other circumstances in which your employees may find themselves.

The new legislation allows employees who participate in the program to receive paid leave in a number of circumstances:

  • 12 weeks a year to care for a family member or to bond with a new child
  • 20 weeks a year to deal with a personal medical issue
  • up to 26 weeks for an emergency related to a family member and military service

As employers taking part in this program, employee benefits will be offered as a percentage of said employee’s weekly wage, not to exceed $850.

Since these new processes may mean the implementation of new policies at your business, ensure that your human resources programs are kept up to date to stay in compliance with the Grand Bargain Act.

Moving forward toward more ethical conditions for employees is can be exciting: employees who are well cared for tend to be happier and more productive on the job, making for a more positive work environment over all.

New legislation like this, however, may leave employers reticent, unsure of how they will implement new payroll programs or modify their human resource management. To avoid the confusion of redesigning programs on your own or the consequences of falling out of compliance, trust the qualified payroll and HR consultants at Commonwealth Payroll and HR.

For more information on how we can help your business adjust to new legislation, give us a call today at 978-599-1500.

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