Exemptions from Paid Family and Medical Leave for private plans

Massachusetts employers that offer approved private plans with paid leave benefits that are equal to or more generous than those provided under the Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program may obtain an exemption from making family or medical leave contributions to the Department of Family and Medical Leave.

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General overview

If you already provide a paid leave benefit to your workforce, you may be eligible to receive an exemption from collecting, remitting, and paying contributions for paid family or medical leave under the state's Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) law. Exemption applications will be available beginning April 29.

The benefits offered to your employees by your approved plan must be greater than or equal to the benefits provided by the PFML law to be granted an exemption. This means your approved plan must meet all the minimum requirements listed below and must not cost your employees any more than they would be required to contribute to the state plan under the PFML law.

    Applying for an exemption

    If you're interested in getting an exemption from contributing to family leave, medical leave, or both, you will need to submit an annual approved plan application to the Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML). The electronic approved plan application will be available through MassTaxConnect beginning April 29. 

    Employers applying for an exemption will receive an email notification within 1-2 business days indicating that a determination has been made. Once you've received the notification, you can log into MassTaxConnect to review the decision.

    • If the exemption is approved, you'll be asked to upload a copy of the plan on which the exemption is based
    • If the exemption is denied, you'll be notified why it was denied. If you disagree with the basis for denial, you may request a follow-up review. 

    If you're granted an exemption because your approved plan offers benefits that match or exceed those provided under the state's program, your employees will still be entitled to rights and protections. This includes:

    • The right to an appeal if their application for benefits is denied
    • The right to job protection during any leave taken
    • Protections against retaliation from taking leave or exercising other rights under the PFML law

    Minimum family leave benefit requirements

    To qualify for an exemption from family leave contributions, your private plan must provide the following to all employees:

    • All employees (full-time, part-time, permanent, or seasonal) are eligible for family leave benefits
    • A weekly paid benefit amount that is greater than or equal to the benefit provided by the PFML program administered by DFML
    • A minimum of 26 weeks of paid leave during the benefit year to provide care to a family member, as defined by PFML, with a serious health condition suffered while on active duty in the armed forces
    • A minimum of 12 weeks of paid leave during the benefit year if their spouse, child, or parent is a current member of the Armed Forces (including the National Guard and reserves) and is on covered active duty or notified of an impending call or order to covered active duty
    • A minimum of 12 weeks of paid leave during the benefit year to provide care to a family member, as defined by PFML, with a serious health condition
    • A minimum of 12 weeks of paid leave during the benefit year to bond with a child during the first 12 months after a child’s birth, or the first 12 months after adoption or foster placement of a child under the age of 18
    • Job protection while the employee is on qualified leave
    • Continued employer contributions to employment-related health insurance benefits, if any, at the level and under the conditions coverage would have been provided if the employee had continued working continuously for the duration of qualified leave
    • Leave may be taken intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule, with the weekly benefit amount being prorated
    • Your plan specifically states that all presumptions shall be made in favor of the availability of leave and the payment of leave benefits

    Minimum medical leave benefit requirements

    To qualify for an exemption from medical leave contributions, your private plan must provide the following to all employees:

    • All employees (full-time, part-time, permanent, or seasonal) are eligible for medical leave benefits
    • A minimum of 20 weeks of paid medical leave in a benefit year if an employee is unable to work due to a serious health condition
    • A weekly paid benefit amount that is greater than or equal to the benefit provided by the PFML program administered by DFML
    • Job protection while the employee is on qualified leave
    • Continued employer contributions to employment-related health insurance benefits, if any, at the level and under the conditions coverage would have been provided if the employee had continued working continuously for the duration of qualified leave
    • Leave may be taken intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule if medically necessary, with the weekly benefit amount being prorated
    • Your plan specifically states that all presumptions shall be made in favor of the availability of leave and the payment of leave benefits

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