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Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) Virtual Hearings Guide

Learn how to participate in a Department of Family and Medical Leave virtual hearing for your DFML appeal.

The Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) offers virtual hearings for DFML appeals. Virtual hearings enable claimants, attorneys/representatives, and witnesses to attend hearings online using their personal computer or smartphone. DFML claimants eligible for a virtual hearing will receive an official DFML Notice of Hearing - Virtual and Virtual Hearing Confirmation Email from the Department of Family and Medical Leave containing the details of their appeal along with instructions on how to join their virtual hearing. Additional instructions and information on virtual hearings can be found on this web page.

To participate in your virtual hearing as a claimant, you must:

  1. Have received an official DFML Notice of Hearing – Virtual and Virtual Hearing Confirmation Email
  2. Prepare and test your system at least 48 hours prior to your virtual hearing 
  3. Read the instructions contained here and in your DFML Notice of Hearing - Virtual 

Table of Contents

Virtual Hearing Notices

DFML Notice of Hearing - Virtual

The DFML Notice of Hearing - Virtual will be sent to you via U.S. mail.

The DFML Notice of Hearing - Virtual contains the following key information:

  1. Date and Time of your hearing – be sure to join 5-10 minutes before the scheduled time.
  2. Issue to be Heard – The classification of the issue impacting your DFML claim.
  3. Citation of Law – Text of the Massachusetts General Law(s) and/or Regulations relevant to the issue to be heard.
  4. Application Number – Serial number identifying your DFML claim account.
  5. Determination Date – Date when DFML made the decision on the issue to be heard.
  6. Virtual hearing instructions – At the end of the DFML Notice of Hearing – Virtual, you will find an addendum of instructions on preparing for and joining your virtual hearing (similar to what you will find on this webpage).
DFML Virtual Hearings Notice Pages 1 and 2
DFML Virtual Hearings Notice Pages 3 and 4
DFML Virtual Hearings Notice Pages 5 and 6
A virtual hearings confirmation email

Virtual Hearing Confirmation Email

The Virtual Hearing confirmation email will be sent from noreply-pfml@cloverhound.com to the email address associated with your DFML application. It contains the following key information:

  1. Date and Time of your hearing – Be sure to join 5-10 minutes before the scheduled time.
  2. Hearing ID Number – Serial number identifying your hearing (you can enter this at https://paidleaveappeals.eol.state.ma.us to join your virtual hearing).
  3. Hearing Access link – Direct link to join your virtual hearing (clicking this removes the need to go to https://paidleaveappeals.eol.state.ma.us and enter your Hearing ID Number).

*Your Hearing ID Number and/or Hearing Access Link should only be shared with those you intend to join your hearing (e.g., witness(es) or legal representation, should you choose to include them).

If you have received a DFML Notice of Hearing - Virtual but not the Virtual Hearing Confirmation email, please complete the following steps:

  1. Search your email inbox and trash folders for messages sent by noreply-pfml@cloverhound.com
  2. Search your junk or spam folders for messages sent by noreply-pfml@cloverhound.com
  3. If you are still not finding your confirmation email, please call the DFML Appeals Department at (617) 988-3223
A DFML virtual hearing confirmation email

Preparing and Testing Your System

System Requirements

To attend your virtual hearing, you must:

  • Have a personal computer or smartphone with a camera that supports video chatting
  • Have a reliable, stable Internet connection (at least 1-1.5 megabits per second is recommended)
  • Use a supported internet browser:
  • Disable the sleep/standby mode on your computer or smartphone:
    • Sleep/standby mode can usually be found in the device settings
    • Do NOT set your phone to "Do not disturb” or use similar features in an internet browser

Testing Your System

Join your virtual hearing

Please complete the following three steps at least 48 hours before your scheduled hearing to prepare and test your system. If you encounter any issues, please call the DFML Appeals Department at (617) 988-3223.

1. Confirm that you are able to navigate to and open https://paidleaveappeals.eol.state.ma.us (you will not be able to check-in yet if doing this 48 hours before your hearing).

  • Make sure you are using the latest MS Edge, Chrome, Firefox, or Safari internet browser.
  • Internet Explorer is not supported.
  • NOTE: there is compatibility issue with Chrome browser and some iOS products.
  • You can check-in for your hearing up to 15 minutes prior to the scheduled hearing time. If you try to join more than 15 minutes in advance, you will receive an error message saying: “You may only check in 15 minutes before the scheduled hearing time.”

2. The Department of Family and Medical Leave Virtual Hearing Center uses Cisco WebEx to hold virtual hearings. You will need to download the free Cisco WebEx Meetings application prior to your hearing date on the device you intend to use:

Virtual hearings webex screenshot

3. Once you have the WebEx Meetings application downloaded, confirm that you are able to join a virtual meeting using the WebEx Test Meeting

  • If you encounter issues during the test, you can find additional instructions and support at WebEx’s Test Meeting Support Center
A screenshot of a virtual hearings system test

 

Attending Your Virtual Hearing – Claimants

Your virtual hearing id number

To participate in your virtual hearing as a Claimant, please follow the steps below.

If you intend to bring a Witness or Representative, please also read the instructions in these sections.

  1. Please log in 5-10 minutes before your scheduled hearing time. To do so, click on the link provided in the hearing confirmation email sent from noreply-pfml@cloverhound.com. You can also go to https://paidleaveappeals.eol.state.ma.us and enter your Hearing ID number.
  • Internet Explorer is not supported.
  • NOTE: there is compatibility issue with Chrome browser and some iOS products.
  • On whatever device you are joining with, make sure that you have downloaded the free Cisco WebEx application.
  • Ensure you are in a quiet place that will be free from distractions during your hearing – although virtual, the hearing is still a formal legal procedure

2. Read through the DFML Virtual Hearings terms and conditions and click on “Accept” at the bottom to proceed.

Virtual hearings terms and conditions

3. You will then select your role for the hearing – as the claimant, please select “I’m a Claimant”

Virtual hearings role select screen

4. This will bring you to the virtual waiting room, where you will see a message that your hearing will start shortly.

  • Click to allow notifications – this will make sure you are notified when your hearing begins
  • Make sure your status is set to “Available” so that you can be called into the hearing

5. At the time of your hearing, the review examiner will initiate the hearing, and you will see a popup notification prompting you to join the hearing – click on the green “Enter Hearing” button to join the hearing.

A virtual hearings test confirmation screen

 

 

 

 

 

Join your virtual hearing

6. This will launch a new window in WebEx, and you will be presented with options for connecting your audio and video. You will then click “Join” to enter the hearing. Please note that both an audio and video connection are required for virtual hearing, so make sure these are turned on.

A screenshot of a virtual hearing

7. Once you have joined the virtual hearing, you should be able to see and hear the review examiner, and they will be able to see and hear you. The review examiner will then start the proceedings.

A screenshot of a virtual hearing

8. When your hearing completes, please make sure to exit out of all WebEx and internet browser windows that you have used for the hearing.

A virtual hearing exit screen
A virtual hearing exit screen
A virtual hearings end screen

Attending Your Virtual Hearing – Witnesses

If you are a witness who has agreed to testify on a claimant’s behalf, please make sure the claimant has shared with you their Hearing ID number included in their Virtual Hearing Confirmation email.

At least 48 hours before the hearing, complete the “Preparing and testing your system” steps listed above on this webpage.

To participate in the virtual hearing as a Witness, please follow these steps:

1. Please log in 5-10 minutes before the scheduled hearing time. To do so, go to http://paidleaveappeals.eol.state.ma.us and enter the Hearing ID number that the Claimant has provided you with.

  • Internet Explorer is not supported.
  • NOTE: there is compatibility issue with Chrome browser and some iOS products. 
  • On whatever device you are joining with, make sure that you have downloaded the free Cisco WebEx application.
  • Ensure you are in a quiet place that will be free from distractions during your hearing – although virtual, the hearing is still a formal legal procedure.
Join your virtual hearing

2. Read through DFML Virtual Hearings terms and conditions and click on “Accept” at the bottom to proceed.

Virtual hearings terms and conditions

3. You will then select your role for the hearing – as a Witness, please select “I’m a Witness or other participant”.

  • You will be prompted to enter your first name, last name, and email to join the hearing (for identification purposes).
Virtual hearings role select screen
The second screen of the role select process for witnesses

4. This will bring you to the virtual waiting room, where you will see a message that the hearing will start shortly.

  • Click to allow notifications – this will make sure you are notified when your hearing begins
  • Make sure your status is set to “Available” so that you can be called into the hearing
A virtual hearings test confirmation screen
A virtual hearings test confirmation screen

5. At the time of the hearing, the review examiner will initiate the hearing, and you will see a popup notification prompting you to join the hearing – click on the green “Enter Hearing” button to join the hearing.

A virtual hearings enter screen

6. This will launch a new window in WebEx, and you will be presented with options for connecting your audio and video. Please note that both an audio and video connection are required for virtual hearings, so make sure these are turned on. You will then click “Join” to enter the hearing.

Virtual hearings witness screen

7. Once you have joined the virtual hearing, you should be able to see and hear the review examiner and claimant, and they will be able to see and hear you. The review examiner will then start the proceedings.

  • If Witness sequestration is required, you will be placed either in a breakout room or the waiting room until the review examiner is ready for you to provide your testimony.
Virtual hearings witness screen

8. When the hearing completes, please make sure to exit out of all WebEx and internet browser windows that you have used for the hearing.

A virtual hearing exit screen
A virtual hearing exit screen
A virtual hearings end screen

Attending Your Virtual Hearing – Attorneys & Representatives

If you have an attorney or a representative who will be participating in the virtual hearing on your behalf, please call the Appeals Department at (617) 988-3223 as soon as possible to get them registered.

At least 48 hours before the hearing, complete the “Preparing and testing your system” steps listed above on this webpage.

To participate in the virtual hearing as an Attorney or Representative, please follow these steps:

  1. Please log in 5-10 minutes before the scheduled hearing time. To do so, go to the https://paidleaveappeals.eol.state.ma.us and enter the Hearing ID number that the Claimant has provided you with.
  • Internet Explorer is not supported.
  • NOTE: there is compatibility issue with Chrome browser and some iOS products
  • On whatever device you are joining with, make sure that you have downloaded the free Cisco WebEx application.

2. Read through the Virtual Hearings terms and conditions and click on “Accept” at the bottom to proceed.

Join your virtual hearing
Virtual hearings terms and conditions

3. You will then select your role for the hearing – as an Attorney or Representative, please select “I’m an Attorney/Representative”.

  • You will be prompted to enter your first name, last name, and email to join the hearing (for identification purposes).
Virtual hearings role select screen
A virtual hearing role select screen for attorneys

4. This will bring you to the virtual waiting room, where you will see a message that the hearing will start shortly.

  • Click to allow notifications – this will make sure you are notified when your hearing begins
  • Make sure your status is set to “Available” so that you can be called into the hearing
Virtual hearings waiting screen
A virtual hearings waiting screen

5. At the time of the hearing, the review examiner will initiate the hearing, and you will see a popup notification prompting you to join the hearing – click on the green “Enter Hearing” button to join the hearing. 

A virtual hearings enter screen

6. This will launch a new window in WebEx, and you will be presented with options for connecting your audio and video. Please note that both an audio and video connection are required for virtual hearings, so make sure these are turned on. You will then click “Join Meeting” to enter the hearing.

A virtual hearings attorney screen

7. Once you have joined the virtual hearing, you should be able to see and hear the review examiner and claimant, and they will be able to see and hear you. The review examiner will then start the proceedings.

A virtual hearings attorney screen

8. When the hearing completes, please make sure to exit out of all WebEx and internet browser windows that you have used for the hearing.

A virtual hearing exit screen
A virtual hearing exit screen
A virtual hearings end screen

Help and Support

The Cisco WebEx Help Center has how-to articles and videos available to support your use of WebEx Meetings. There is also a selection of common help topics included further down on this webpage.

If you are experiencing issues when preparing for or while trying to join your virtual hearing that impact your ability to join your hearing, please use the contact information listed on your DFML Notice of Hearing - Virtual to contact the Department of Family and Medical Leave Appeals Department for support as soon as possible.

Downloading WebEx

Personal Computer

The screenshots below walk you through the steps to download the WebEx Meetings application for a personal computer with a Windows operating system. The steps are similar for other types of operating systems – just make sure you have selected the correct one for your device.

  • Internet Explorer is not supported.
  • NOTE: there is compatibility issue with Chrome browser and some iOS products.
Download webex for your virtual hearing
Download webex for your virtual hearing
Download webex for your virtual hearing
Download webex for your virtual hearing
Download webex for your virtual hearing
Download webex for your virtual hearing
Download webex for your virtual hearing
Download webex for your virtual hearing

Smartphone

The screenshots below walk you through the steps to download the WebEx Meetings application for an Apple iPhone. The steps are similar for other types of smartphone – just make sure you are using the correct app store for your device.

  • Internet Explorer is not supported.
  • NOTE: there is compatibility issue with Chrome browser and some iOS products.

 

Download webex for your virtual hearing
Download webex for your virtual hearing
Download webex for your virtual hearing

 

Configuring Audio and Video on WebEx

All virtual hearing participants are required to use both audio and video during the virtual hearing. The instructions below provide additional detail on setting up audio and video connects and further support (including smartphone instructions) can be found on the WebEx Help Center.

Using your personal computer or smartphone’s default video, audio, and microphone settings is usually the easiest way to join a WebEx video conference. Attempting to connect external devices like headphones may cause disruptions.

Please be sure to test your audio and video well in advance of your hearing (48 hours is recommended) to ensure everything is working by using the WebEx Test

Audio

All virtual hearings require connecting audio. The screenshots below show common steps for configuring and testing audio (speakers and microphone) when joining a WebEx meeting. 

Further support (including smartphone instructions) can be found on the WebEx Help Center.

How to configure your webex audio
How to configure your webex audio
How to configure your webex audio
How to configure your webex audio
How to configure your webex audio
How to configure your webex audio

Video

All virtual hearings require connecting by video. The screenshots below show common steps for configuring and testing video when joining a WebEx meeting.

Further support (including smartphone instructions) can be found on the WebEx Help Center.

How to configure your webex video
How to configure your webex video
How to configure your webex video

 

Submitting and Sharing Documents

If you have any documents that you would like to submit prior to your hearing, you can submit documents by fax at (617) 855-6180 or mail to the Department of Family and Medical Leave address listed on your DFML Notice of Hearing – Virtual. If you are mailing document copies, please send these as soon as possible to avoid any delays in the Department of Family and Medical Leave receiving the materials.

When submitting documents please be sure to put your Application ID on every page so that we can clearly identify your appeal documentation. Also, when mailing documents, please send only COPIES do not send originals to the DFML as we cannot mail documents back to you.

Joining by Smartphone

  • Internet Explorer is not supported.
  • NOTE: there is compatibility issue with Chrome browser and some iOS products
  • You will need to download and install the WebEx Meetings application on your smartphone before your hearing. It is available for free download from Cisco WebEx.
  • You will still join your hearing by clicking on the link in the email or going to paidleaveappeals.eol.state.ma.us and entering your hearing ID number.
  • You will need to give permission for the WebEx application to access your phone's camera and microphone to join a hearing.
  • Rotating your smartphone to landscape mode will enlarge the videos of the other participants in your hearing.
  • You will only be able to present documents by holding them up to your camera, selecting a photo from your phone’s camera roll, or using a cloud storage application like Dropbox or Google Drive.
  • Additional instructions for using the WebEx smartphone application can be found at Cisco WebEx’s Help Center.

Other Suggestions for a Successful Virtual Hearing

  • Your Hearing ID number is not the same as your application ID, issue number, or letter number and can only be found in the Virtual Hearing Confirmation email.
    • If you have not received your hearing confirmation email, please try searching for messages from noreply-pfml@cloverhound.com in your email’s inbox, trash, and junk or spam folder. If you still have not received the hearing confirmation email, please call the appeals department at the number listed on your DFML Notice of Hearing - Virtual as soon as possible.
    • Please do not share your Hearing ID number with anyone other than a witness or attorney should you plan to bring one.
  • Although it is strongly discouraged, you may use other apps or features on your phone or other tabs of your browser while waiting for a hearing to be called as long as you do not close the application completely.
    • A notification (ding sound) will alert you when it is time to join your hearing. Make sure the volume is turned up and notifications are turned on/activated to receive this notification.
    • If you accidentally navigate away from the app or window during a hearing, you will not be disconnected from the hearing. You just need to return to the waiting room screen.  
  • If your hearing needs to be recalled (re-started) by the review examiner, they will notify you, and the message "to be recalled" will be displayed in the waiting room where you will wait for the hearing to be called again.

 

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