Although there are common elements to the many PFML regulations, there are also differences in the way each state designs its plan and coordinates it with other leave types. Here’s what you need to know about PFML in Massachusetts.
Paid Family and Medical Leave
Paid Family and Medical Leave is a statewide program that will allow eligible employees paid time off for:
- Attending to their own serious health condition, including pregnancy or recovery from childbirth
- Caring for a family member with a serious health condition
- Bonding with a new child (within 12 months of birth or placement of child via foster care or adoption)
- Attending to a qualifying military exigency
- Caring for a family member who is a covered service member
Covered family members include: spouses, domestic partners, children (biological, adoptive, foster and loco parentis), parents, parents-in-law, grandparents, grandchildren, and siblings.
Benefits are payable beginning January 1, 2021 for an employee's own serious health condition, bonding with a new child, military exigency and care of a servicemember. Benefits begin July 1, 2021 for care of a seriously-ill family member.
Premium collection began October 1, 2019.
Most Massachusetts employers are required to participate. Self-employed individuals and independent contractors are excluded. However, self-employed individuals may elect coverage.
Employees must meet the same standard requirements that exist for unemployment compensation, including earning 30 times the weekly unemployment benefit that they are eligible to receive and earning a minimum of $5,400 over the last four calendar quarters.
Covered individuals include current employees and former employees separated from employment not more than 26 weeks at the start of their family and medical leave.
The total premium is initially set at 0.75% of the covered individual’s wages, with employers and employees sharing the cost. This rate breaks down to a 0.62% contribution for medical leave and a 0.13% contribution for family leave.
- For medical leave, the employer can deduct a maximum of 40% of the contribution from the employee’s wages.
- For family leave, the employer can deduct 100% of the contribution required from the employee’s wages.
An employer with less than 25 employees is exempt from paying the employer portion of the premiums.
Beginning October 1, 2021, the contribution rate will be adjusted annually, which shall take effect on the following January 1.
Instead of a state-run program, employers may elect to offer a private plan, referred to as a plan exemption. An employer’s private plan must meet the following requirements:
- Program must fully meet or exceed the state plan.
- Employers must formally apply for exemption with the state’s Department of Family & Medical Leave before implementing the plan.
The employer can have a private plan for either family leave, medical leave, or both.
Private plan premiums may vary in comparison to the state plan cost, but employee contributions cannot exceed allowed contriubtions under the state plan.
The law will provide employees up to 12 weeks of paid family leave, up to 20 weeks of paid medical leave, or up to 26 weeks of leave to care for a family member who is a service member. An employee may take a maximum of 26 weeks of combined paid family and medical leave in a benefit year. Benefit amount varies based on the following criteria:
- Employees with an average weekly wage less than or equal to 50% of the state average weekly wage (currently $1,487.78 per week) will receive a benefit of 80% of their weekly wage benefit.
- Employees earning more than 50% of the state average weekly wage will receive the underlying 80% benefit plus an additional 50% of their average weekly wage that exceeds 50% of the state average weekly wage.
- The maximum weekly benefit will be $850 through December 31 2021, and may increase in future calendar years.
Yes. Employees may take leave on a continuous or intermittent basis.
Yes. Employees covered by the state program are entitled to job protection while on leave. During the employee’s leave, the employer must still provide employment-related health insurance benefits as if the employee had continued working, provided the employee continues their share of premium if required by the employer.