Guide Worker's guide to Paid Family and Medical Leave

Beginning in January 2021, most Massachusetts workers will be eligible for paid family and medical leave under the Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) law. Learn more about what these new benefits mean to you and how to prepare for them.

Table of Contents

Key information

  • Talk to your employer to find out if you're covered, what your contributions rate will be, or about any other questions you have about PFML
  • The maximum that will be taken out of your paycheck is $0.38 for every $100. These deductions will appear on your paychecks as of Oct. 1, 2019. 
  • Most benefits will be available for use starting January 1, 2021
  • Generally, PFML coverage is available to all W-2 workers who work in Massachusetts, whether full-time, part-time, or seasonal, as well as some 1099-MISC contractors
  • You cannot opt-out of PFML if you are a covered individual, even if you don't plan on using the benefits. Talk to your employer to learn if you are covered.
  • Your employer will handle the deductions; you do not need to take any action
  • General information on what types of leave are eligible for benefits through PFML is available; more detailed information will come as the January 1, 2021 start date approaches
  • PFML availability is not dependent on who you are employed by. If you change jobs or become unemployed, PFML may still be available to you. 
  • PFML is separate from FMLA, the federally-mandated Family and Medical Leave Act

Important dates

Oct. 1, 2019

Employers began making payroll deductions to fund the employee share of contributions.

Your share of contributions as a worker is fixed. Some employers will also be required to pay contributions under the law, depending on the makeup and size of their workforce.

Jan. 1, 2021

Paid family leave benefits will be available to support workers who take leave in order to bond with a new child and to address needs relating to a family member who is a covered service member of the armed forces.

Paid medical leave benefits will be available to support workers who take leave as a result of personal serious health conditions.

July 1, 2021

Paid family leave benefits will be available for the care for any family member with a serious health condition.

Worker contribution rates

PFML benefits will be funded by a payroll or earnings contribution on every dollar of wages or payment for services earned by a covered individual.

For every $100 you earn, a maximum of $0.38 will be deducted for the covered contribution share. This will consist of:

  • $0.13 to cover your family leave contribution
  • $0.25 to cover your medical leave contribution

The maximum amount of earnings subject to these contribution rates is $132,900 annually for each covered individual.

Weekly benefits

Weekly benefit amounts are calculated as a percentage of your earnings. This means weekly benefits may be different for each individual. 

The maximum weekly benefit is $850 per week. You can use our online calculator to estimate your weekly benefits

Types of covered leave

Family leave

Up to 12 weeks of family leave may be taken to:

  • Care for a family member with a serious health condition
  • Bond with a child within the first 12 months after its birth
  • Bond with a child within the first 12 months after adoption or foster care placement
  • Manage family affairs when a family member is on active duty in the armed forces

Up to 26 weeks of family leave may be taken to care for a family member who serves in the armed forces.

Medical leave

Up to 20 weeks of medical leave may be taken:

  • While you are unable to work due to your own serious health condition

The maximum amount of combined family and medical leave that an individual may take is capped at 26 weeks per benefit year.

Learn more about what kinds of leave will be eligible for PFML coverage. More details will become available about leave eligibility as the Jan. 1st, 2021 date approaches. 

Key Actions for Types of covered leave

Make sure you're eligible for benefits

All Massachusetts W-2 employees and many 1099-MISC contractors will be covered by the PFML law and eligible for benefits. However, there are some requirements you must meet before you can take paid leave, even if you're unemployed.

If your Massachusetts employer offers a private paid leave plan with benefits that match or exceed those in the state's PFML program, and they have been given an exemption, you will be covered by your employer's plan instead.

Even if you're covered by your employer's private plan, you'll still have the same anti-retaliation and other protections under the PFML law.

Key Actions for Make sure you're eligible for benefits

Maximum amount of leave available

Family leave

You may be eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid family leave.

Medical leave

You may be eligible for up to 20 weeks of paid medical leave.

Total combined leave

You may be eligible for up to 26 weeks of combined paid family and medical leave.

For self-employed individuals

As a self-employed individual, you aren't required to participate in the state's PFML program. However, you may choose to opt-in and purchase coverage. If you do so, you will be responsible for paying the full 0.75 percent contribution rate for both family and medical leave.

Learn more about PFML for self-employed individuals

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