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Employer role in reviewing paid family and medical leave applications

As a leave administrator, you will review requests for paid leave and confirm key details of employee applications.

As a representative for your employer, you play a critical role in the review process for Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) applications. The Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) will rely on you to provide and confirm important details in each application you're asked to review. Here’s how that process works.

Table of Contents

Reviewing an application

As soon as an employee begins a PFML application, we will notify you by email. You will get a second email when the employee submits the application. This second email will also contain a link that you can use to view the details of the employee’s application.

If you are not the right person to evaluate the employee’s application, you or someone at your organization should call (833) 344-7365 so that we can add the correct person as leave administrator to the account. 

You will have 10 business days to review the leave application and verify that the information the employee provided is accurate. If we do not hear from you or another verified leave administrator from your organization in that time, we will process the application using only the information we receive. 

Learn more about using the leave administrator dashboard to review applications.

Here is a list of what you may be asked to confirm or provide.

1. Other instances of paid and unpaid leave that the employee has taken in the past benefit year 

You’ll be asked to tell us if the employee has taken another type of leave in the previous benefit year. (A benefit year is 52 weeks starting on the Sunday prior to the first day of paid leave through any leave program.) Other types of leave include federal programs like the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and independent leave offered by your employer.

Most Massachusetts employees are eligible for up to 26 weeks of combined family and medical leave per benefit year. These 26 weeks may include:

  • Up to 20 weeks of paid medical leave to manage a personal serious health condition 

  • Up to 12 weeks of paid family leave to care for a family member or to bond with a child

  • Up to 26 weeks of paid family leave to care for a family member who is a member of the armed forces 

Employees can take more than one kind of Paid Family and Medical Leave in a benefit year, but the maximum amount of paid leave they can take in a benefit year is 26 weeks.

Important: Family leave taken prior to July 1, 2021 to care for a family member with a serious health condition does not impact the 12-week allotment under PFML. Leave taken to bond with a child or care for an active duty service member between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2021 does count toward the maximum allotment of 26 weeks per benefit year.

For example:

  • If your employee took 8 weeks of family leave to bond with their child in 2021, they would have 4 weeks of family leave available to them to care for a family member with a serious health condition.
  • If your employee has already taken 20 weeks of medical leave in 2021, they would only have 6 weeks of leave available to them to care for a family member with a serious health condition.

2. Work patterns and hours 

You’ll be asked to confirm the average number of hours the employee works per week and their leave schedule. 

An employee applying for intermittent or reduced leave must confirm their leave schedule with their employer before beginning their paid leave application.

3. Reporting potential fraud 

You will be asked if any of the information provided appears fraudulent. The Department takes fraud allegations seriously. We will provide additional review for any application where the paid leave administrator indicates that fraud might be taking place.

For example, if the employee is applying for leave to care for a family member with a serious medical condition, and you have reason to believe that the employee is not being truthful about the condition or the relationship, you can contest the application. Then, we will ask the employee to submit documentation confirming their relationship to the family member. This may include:

  • A copy of a legal certificate, such as a birth or marriage certificate, or a certificate of adoption
  • An affidavit attesting to their relationship with the individual who they are applying to take leave to care for

4. Approving an employee's application

After you review the employee’s application, you will be asked to designate the application as approved, denied, or still pending. If you mark the application denied or pending, use the open text field to explain your decision based on the law and your organization's policies.

Note: The Department ultimately approves or denies applications. Your recommendation is an important part of our decision.

Additional Resources

Reaching a decision

After we make a decision on an application that you reviewed, we will email you a link to a PDF of our notice of decision.

When an employee is out on leave

While on leave, employees can only work the schedule they agreed upon with you as part of their leave application (continuous, reduced and/or intermittent). 

If an employee returns to work early, please call the Contact Center at (833)-344-7354 and let us know.

Employer documentation requirements

Employers must maintain separate files from their usual personnel files for documents relating to medical information or certifications, re-certifications, or employee medical histories.

Employees receiving additional payments from short-term disability

Some short-term disability plans will make additional payments to employees on top of their PFML benefits. This allows employees to receive as much as their regular paycheck. These payments are sometimes called “top-offs.” 

You do not need to report top-off payments to DFML.

However, if you pay into a plan that pays full wages, you do need to report to DFML, as this counts as a form of leave.

Contact

Phone

For questions about benefits and eligibility: (833) 344-7365

Department of Family and Medical Leave - Hours of operation: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m - 5 p.m.

Fraud Reporting Hotline: (857) 366-7201

Department of Family and Medical Leave - Hours of operation: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m - 5 p.m.

For questions about contributions and exemptions: (617) 466-3950

Department of Revenue - Hours of operation: Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

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