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Employer's Introduction to Paid Family and Medical Leave

As a Massachusetts employer, you likely have responsibilities under the Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) law. Learn more about PFML and your responsibilities.

Table of Contents

Learn about Paid Family and Medical Leave

Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) is a state program that offers up to 26 weeks of paid leave for family or medical reasons to eligible employees (including former employees) in Massachusetts. PFML is funded through employee and employer contributions. It is different from the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and other family and medical leave benefits that employers offer their employees. 

Download the PFML Employer Toolkit to learn more about PFML, how it works, and your responsibilities. 

Additional Resources   for Learn about Paid Family and Medical Leave

Excluded employers and exemptions

If you offer a qualifying private plan to your workforce with benefits greater than or equal to the benefits provided by the PFML law, you can apply for an exemption. It must be renewed annually. Alternative plans can be offered through private insurance, or they can be self-insured.  

If you have a private or self-insured plan that is paying benefits to your employees that is the same or equal to PFML and are approved for an exemption, you do not have to make PFML contributions on those benefits.

Taxes on the private or self-insured plan benefits are a separate topic; we suggest consulting a tax professional.

Certain employers are already automatically exempt from PFML requirements. If you are an excluded employer, you do not need to apply for an exemption. If you believe you are excluded, you should confirm it with a tax professional. If you fail to make contributions, you will be liable for the cost of your employees’ leaves as well as the contributions you failed to pay to PFML.

If you are self-employed, you may opt-in to coverage.

If you are switching from a private plan to PFML, learn about next steps.

Calculate your covered individuals

If your business is new to PFML, you must calculate your total workforce for PFML contributions based on the covered individuals employed in the previous calendar year. After the first year you are registered for PFML contributions, the Department of Revenue (DOR) determines your workforce count. 

If you had 25 or more covered individuals in your workforce last year, then you are responsible for making employer contributions for covered individuals in your current workforce. 

If you had less than 25 covered individuals in last year's workforce, you do not need to make an employer contribution this year. However, you will still need to send the employee portion of the contributions on their behalf.  

Calculate your financial responsibilities

You can determine what employer contributions you are responsible for once you know your total covered workforce. Even if you are not required to pay an employer contribution, you will be required to send the employees’ contribution to the state through MassTaxConnect. Employers must withhold PFML contributions from employees’ paychecks. Employers are only required to send an employer contribution if they have 25 or more covered individuals in their workforce.

The PFML law follows the unemployment statute for determining what counts as wages. This means that you should base your contributions on the same wage base you report to the Department of Unemployment Assistance. 

Our PFML calculator can help you determine what amount you need to contribute. 

Key Actions   for Calculate your financial responsibilities

Informing your employees about PFML

Employers are required to provide written notice of benefits to new employees within 30 days of their start date.

Hang up a PFML poster

All Massachusetts employers must display a workplace poster prepared or approved by the Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) that explains the benefits available to your workforce under the PFML law. 

You must display this poster at your workplace in a location where it can be easily read. The poster must be available in English and each language which is the primary language of 5 or more individuals in your workforce if these translations are available from DFML.

Download the current version of the poster in English and other languages.

Notify your covered individuals in writing about the PFML law and benefits

You are required to provide written notice to your current covered individuals. This is in addition to hanging a poster in your workplace. This notification must include information about: 

  • PFML Benefits 
  • Covered individual contribution rates 
  • Employer contribution rates (if applicable) 
  • Job protections 
  • Other provisions as outlined in M.G.L. c. 175M sec. 4 

These notices must be written in the covered individual's primary language.  

Rate contributions change annually, and employers are required to give notice to employees within 30 days. As you hire new employees, you must notify them within 30 days.

Download the current versions of workplace notifications and rates sheets in English and other languages. 

You can also share PFML resources with your employees to help them understand the benefits and how to apply for paid leave. 

Additional Resources   for Informing your employees about PFML

Complete quarterly filings and submit contributions through MassTaxConnect

Every 3 months, you'll need to complete your quarterly report and submit contributions on your covered individuals for the previous calendar quarter through MassTaxConnect. Employers must withhold PFML contributions from employees’ paychecks. Employers are only required to send an employer contribution if they have 25 or more covered individuals in their workforce.

Key Actions   for Complete quarterly filings and submit contributions through MassTaxConnect

Reviewing employee applications

As an employer, you play an important role in maintaining the integrity of the PFML program by reviewing and providing details about your employees' applications for PFML benefits. 

To review your employees' application, you'll first need to set up a PFML employer account.  The next step is to register as a verified leave administrator.

Once you have a verified leave administrator account, you will receive an email whenever an employee begins or submits an application for PFML benefits. Once an application is submitted, you will have ten (10) business days to review it. If you are not able to review an application within 10 business days, DFML will proceed with the approval process using only the information provided. Learn more about the review process

Additional Resources   for Reviewing employee applications

Managing top off payments

For applications filed on or after November 1, 2023, employees receiving PFML benefits may supplement (or “top off”) their PFML benefits with any available accrued paid leave (sick time, vacation, paid time off (PTO), personal time, etc.). For employees who choose to supplement their PFML benefits in this way, the combined weekly sum of PFML benefits and employer-provided paid leave benefits cannot exceed the employee’s IAWW. Both amounts can be found in the Approval Notices sent to employees and available for viewing in the Employer Application Website.

Employers should tell their employees that under the PFML law, they have the option to use their available accrued PTO to supplement their PFML benefits while on leave, up to the employee’s Individual Average Weekly Wage (IAWW). It is important to let employees know what is offered and when, so they do not report these benefits on their application for benefits. 

Employers will be responsible for monitoring and ensuring that the combined weekly sum of employer-provided paid leave benefits and PFML benefits does not exceed an employee’s IAWW. DFML is not involved in the repayment process for top off overages. This process is solely the responsibility of the employer and the employee. 

The image below shows where you would find the link to the Approval Notice on the Employer Application Website.

Leave details. In this example image there is information for employers on leave duration dates, the leave frequency, status and notices. In the notices section an arrow is pointing to the approval notice.

The image below shows where the employee’s weekly benefit amount and IAWW are located on the Approval Notice. 

Approval notice. The image is an example of an approval notice. It contains leave type, schedule, start date, end date, weekly benefit amount and the average weekly wage.

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