On New Year’s Day, eligible Massachusetts workers will be able to begin receiving paid family and medical leave from the Department of Family and Medical Leave.  Here’s what employers need to know now…

Who is eligible for benefits?

  • W-2 employees
  • Contractors who receive a 1099-MISC form from a business that issues 1099-MISC forms to more than 50% of its workforce
  • Former employees who have been unemployed for 26 weeks or fewer

What benefits are available?

  • Up to 20 weeks of paid medical leave for a worker’s own serious medical condition
  • Up to 12 weeks of paid family leave for bonding with a new child, to care for a family member with a serious medical condition*, or to assist a family member with a qualifying military exigency
  • Up to 26 weeks of paid family leave to care for a family member who is an injured service member
  • The maximum annual allotment of leave is 26 weeks per worker

*Family leave to care for a family member with a serious medical condition becomes available on July 1, 2021.  

How much will workers receive?

  • Workers making up to $669 per week will receive 80% of their weekly pay.
  • Workers making more than $669 per week will also receive 50% of their earnings over $669 per week.
  • Weekly benefits are capped at $850.
  • There is an initial seven-day waiting period, during which no benefits are paid.
  • Benefits will be paid from a State trust funded through payroll deductions and employer contributions that began in 2019.

Can workers take paid leave on an intermittent basis?

  • Workers can take PFML on an intermittent basis for their own serious medical condition or for a family member’s serious medical condition if the intermittent leave is medically necessary.
  • Workers can take family leave to bond with a new child on an intermittent basis only if agreed upon by the employer and worker agree on a schedule.

How does PFML coordinate with other types of leave?

  • PFML runs concurrently with other statutorily-provided leave (FMLA, Massachusetts Parental Leave Act).
  • Employers may not require employees to exhaust PTO prior to or while taking PFML.
  • Short-term disability benefits may be used to “top off” PFML benefits to bring a worker up to 100% of their average weekly wage.

How do workers apply for benefits?

  • The application process will be administered by the Department of Family and Medical Leave.
  • Workers will need to apply online and provide information regarding qualification for leave, including a medical certificate if medical leave is being requested.
  • Employers will be asked to provide information about the worker’s wages, work schedule, and employer-provided leave benefits.
  • DFML will make a determination about eligibility and the amount of benefits provided.

Are employers required to reinstate workers after PFML?

  • Workers returning from leave must be restored to their previous position or an equivalent position.
  • Taking leave cannot affect an employee’s eligibility for employer-provided benefits, but time on leave need not be credited as service for purposes of benefit accrual.
  • Employers must continue to contribute to the employee’s employment-related health insurance while on leave.

What should employers do now?

  • Ensure that you have complied with all PFML notice requirements, including providing written notice to all current employees and displaying the most up-to-date PFML poster.
  • Create an employer account with DFML.
  • Review employee handbook policies regarding employee leaves and PTO.
  • Train supervisors on PFML to avoid retaliation claims.