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FY2023 Annual Report for the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML)

Department of Family and Medical Leave FY2023 annual report for the PFML program.

The enactment of the Family and Medical Leave Law, M.G.L. c. 175M on June 28, 2018, created Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) in Massachusetts.

The program provides benefits to covered individuals. A covered individual is either:

(a) an employee who meets the financial eligibility requirements of M.G.L. c. 151A, § 24(a); provided, however, that all such employment shall have been with an employer in the Commonwealth;

(b) a self-employed individual:

1. who has elected coverage under M.G.L. c. 175M, § (2)(j);

2. whose reported earnings to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue from self-employment meet the financial eligibility requirements of M.G.L. c. 151A, § 24(a) as if the individual were an employee; and

3. who has made contributions as required by M.G.L. c. 175M, § 6, for at least two of the previous four calendar quarters;

(c) a covered contract worker:

The Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) is required to issue annual reports containing information about applications for PFML benefits made to DFML (M.G.L. c. 175M s. 7(e)).

This report provides a summary of data on applications for paid leave benefits from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023 (FY23), including cases subsequently approved through the appeals process. The data used in this report is derived from various sources, including DFML’s claims processing system and the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance. The report provides information on benefits, applications, and certain covered individual demographics during FY23.

 

FY2023 DFML Annual Report (pdf)

Table of Contents

Approved applications information

 

In FY23:

  • 143,356 applications were approved.
    • That represents a 27.39% increase in approved applications over FY22, when the Department approved 112,531 applications. Additionally, the approval percentage for applications in FY23 increased by 3.16%, to 83.72%.
  • Medical leave accounted for 62.55% of approved applications (89,500 approved applications).
    • Medical Leave due to one’s own serious health condition accounted for 49.36% of approved applications (70,627 approved applications).
    • Leave associated with standard recovery from childbirth or pregnancy are categorized as Medical Leave claims. Those leaves accounted for 13.19% of approved applications (18,873 approved applications). In FY23, 62.88% of covered individuals with an approved medical leave claim to recover from childbirth or due to pregnancy also had an approved child bonding family leave claim.
  • Family leave to bond with a child following birth, adoption or foster care placement accounted for 27.37% of approved applications (39,237 approved applications).
  • Family leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition accounted for 10.17% of approved applications (14,579 approved applications).
  • Military exigency leave accounted for .02% of approved applications (32 approved applications).
  • Leave to care for a family member who is a covered service member accounted for .01% of approved applications (8 approved applications).
Approved claims by leave type pie chart. 70,627 approved applications (49.27%) were for employee serious health conditions. 39,237 approved applications (27.37%) were for child bonding. 18,873 approved applications (13.17%) were for pregnancy/maternity.  14,579 approved applications (10.17%) were to care for a family member. 32 approved applications (.02%) were for military exigency family.  8 approved applications (.01%) were for military caregiver.

Denied applications information

As of June 30, 2023:

  • 27,863 applications were denied, which was 16.27% of all filed applications that received a decision from PFML.
    • That represented a 17.16% reduction in the percentage of filed applications being denied from FY22, when 19.64% of all filed applications were denied.

 

Reasons for denials

The following categories accounted for the denials issued by DFML in FY23:

Eligibility The applicant’s employer was either covered by an approved  exempt plan or was exempt from the requirements of the PFML statute entirely 7,649 applications
Eligibility The applicant had not satisfied the financial eligibility test under M.G.L. c. 175M in that they did not earn 30 times their weekly benefit amount over the 12 months preceding the individual’s application 3,591 applications
Eligibility The applicant had wages too low to qualify for PFML 1,698 applications
Eligibility The applicant was ineligible due to being unemployed for more than 26 weeks at the time they applied 109 applications
Documentation The applicant did not submit the required documents 7,559 applications
Documentation The documents submitted by the applicant did not comply with DFML requirements 3,807 applications
Information from   employers The employer provided disqualifying information about the applicant  to DFML (e.g., that applicant had taken prior leave during the benefit year) 442 applications
Information from   employers The employer was not notified by the applicant  of their need for leave in accordance with the timeliness requirements established under M.G.L. c. 175M 222 applications
Family leave The leave did not fall within one year of the child’s birth or placement 103 applications
Family leave The applicant did not establish that they were caring for a covered family member 12 applications
Family leave The applicant applying for benefits or the family member they were caring for passed away prior to the start of the leave 9 applications
Other The application was submitted more than 90 days after the leave began 894 applications
Other The requested leave exceeded the amount allowed for family leave 804 applications
Other The requested leave exceeded the amount allowed for medical leave 685 applications
Other The requested leave exceeded the total allowed for both family and medical leave 234 applications
Other The application contained false statements 45 applications

 

Abandoned Claims

In FY23, of the 7,559 applications that were denied for “The applicant did not submit the required documents”, 3,948 applications were denied because an individual started an application in the portal but did not complete and submit the application.

 

Demographics for approved covered individuals

*Demographic information is provided for all covered individuals with approved leaves.

Age**

Approved claimants by age bar chart. Age 10-20 had 498 approved claimants. Age 21-30 had 17,365 approved claimants. Age 31-40 had 36,768 approved claimants. Age 41-50 had 15,313 approved claimants. Age 51-60 had 15,465 approved claimants. Age 61-40 had 10,685 approved claimants. Age 71+ had 1,546 approved claimants.

**The total number of covered individuals does not equal the total number of approved claims because covered individuals can file for multiple leaves within a year.

Gender

Demographic information for gender is optional for covered individuals to disclose to DFML. In FY23, 61.46% (60,009) of covered individuals identified as female, 36.28% (35,420) of covered individuals identified as male, 2.02% (1,971) of covered individuals preferred not to answer, and 0.25% (240) identified as non-binary.

Approved claimants by gender bar chart. Females had 60,009 approved claims. Males had 35,420 approved claims. Prefer not to answer had 1,971 approved claims. Non-binary had 240 approved claims.
Percent breakdown of approved claimants by gender pie chart. Females were 61.46% of approved claimants. Males were 36.28% of approved claimants. Prefer not to answer were 2.02% of approved claimants. Non-binary were .25% of approved claimants.

Race

Demographic information for race is optional for covered individuals to disclose to DFML. In total, 48% (46,874) of covered individuals preferred not to answer. After excluding covered individuals that preferred not to answer, 74.64% (37,894) of covered individuals selected White as their race; 11.42% (5,795) of covered individuals selected Black/African as their race; 6.38% (3,238) of covered individuals selected Asian/Asian American as their race; 3.56% (1,806) of covered individuals selected “Another Race not Listed Above” as their race; 3.42% (1,735) of covered individuals selected Multiracial as their race; and less than 1% (298) of covered individuals selected American Indian/Alaska Native or Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander as their race.

Approved claimants by race bar chart. 46,874 claimants prefer not to answer. 37,894 claimants are white.  5,795 claimants are black/African American. 3,238 claimants are Asian/Asian Americans.  1,806 claimants are another race not listed. 1,735 claimants are multiracial. 181 claimants are American Indian/Alaska Native. 117 claimants are Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander.
Percent breakdown of approved claimants, self-identified by race pie chart.. 76.64% of claimants self-identified as white. 11.42% of claimants self-identified as Black/African American. 6.38% of claimants self-identified as Asian/Asian American. 3.56% of claimants selected Another race not listed. 3.42% of covered individuals selected multiracial as their race. Less than 1% of covered individuals selected American Indian/Alaska Native or Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander.

Occupation

Covered individuals for paid leave worked in a wide variety of industries, and the top 40 occupations are listed below. This data is derived from occupational information that employers self-disclosed to the Department of Unemployment Assistance.

Occupation Approved Claimants
Waiters and Waitresses 412
Retail Salesperson 403
Cashiers 400
Personal Care Aides 361
Nursing Assistants 355
Sales Managers 319
Medical Assistants 289
First-Line Supervisors of Retail Sales Workers 282
Stock Clerks and Order Fillers 266
Preschool Teachers Except Special Education 211
Bus Drivers School or Special Client 209
Medical Secretaries and Administrative Assistants 207
Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers Including Fast Food 201
Home Health Aides 200
Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners 196
Cooks Restaurant 195
Dental Assistants 189
Electricians 189
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses 183
Construction Laborers 181
Social and Human Service Assistants 181
Laborers and Freight Stock and Material Movers Hand 177
Bartenders 173
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers 165
Food Service Managers 162
Light Truck Drivers 155
Packers and Packagers Clerks 154
Receptionists and Information Clerks 153
Carpenters 149
Hairdressers Hairstylists and Cosmetologists 149
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants Except Legal Medical and Executive 142
Janitors and Cleaners Except Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners 140
Sales Representatives Wholesale and Manufacturing Except Technical and Scientific Products 132
Security Guards 130
Dental Hygienists 129
Office Clerks General 129
Team Assemblers 122
First-Line Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers 119

 

 

 

Geography

The below figure shows utilization of PFML by county. Since population size varies by county, the data is presented on a scale of number of approved claims per 1,000 residents in each county. The darker colors indicate more claims submitted versus the lighter colors which indicate fewer claims submitted per 1,000 residents. 13.60 % of claims were submitted with an out-of-state mailing address.  

picture of the state of Massachusetts with the counties colored in in different shades of blue.
County Claims per 1,000 residents
Barnstable 15.12
Berkshire 14.59
Bristol 24.01
Dukes 9.90
Essex 19.71
Franklin 17.68
Hampden 20.39
Hampshire 14.28
Middlesex 15.39
Nantucket 9.40
Norfolk 17.08
Plymouth 22.52
Suffolk 16.68
Worcester 20.76

 

Weekly wages

The average Individual Average Weekly Wage (IAWW) for PFML approved claims was $1,155.48.

  • In FY22, the Individual Average Weekly Wage (IAWW) for PFM approved claims was $1,421.80, representing an 18.70% decrease in the average wage of approved PFML applicants from FY22 to FY23.

Average weekly benefit

During FY23, the average weekly benefit was:

  • $774.01 for family leave. In FY22, the average weekly benefit for family leave was $793.55.
  • $791.36 for medical leave. In FY22, the average weekly benefit for medical leave was $754.84.

Processing times

To apply for paid leave benefits, a covered individual must submit an application and upload supporting documentation. The application is then sent to their employer, which has 10 business days to review and respond. After the employer responds, or the 10 business days have lapsed, the application is adjudicated by DFML, and a decision is reached within 14 business days.

  • The median response time from employers was 3 calendar days.
    • In FY22, the median response time from employers was 2.75 calendar days.
  • The median initial determination (from application submission to initial decision) was 17 calendar days.
    •  The median initial determination was unchanged from FY22 to FY23. In FY22, the median initial determination was 17 calendar days.
  • The median final determination (from application submission to final decision, including the appeals process) was 27 calendar days.
    • That represents a decrease of 27% from FY22, when the median final determination was 37 calendar days.

Leave durations

Assuming a five-day work week, the average duration of a leave completed in FY23 was 9.40 weeks.

  • For medical leave, the median duration of a leave completed in FY23 was 8.74 weeks.
  • For family leave, the median duration of a leave completed in FY23 was 10.44 weeks.

Open cases

At the end of FY23, there were 25,455 open leave requests, where covered individuals were in the midst of taking their leave. There were 117,844 closed leave requests, where the leave had been completed. 

At the end of FY22, there were 25,718 open leave requests, where covered individuals were in the midst of taking their leave. There were 96,900 closed leave requests, where the leave had been completed. 

Total benefits distributed

In FY23 (July 1, 2022-June 20, 2023), DFML paid out a total of $832,556,023.75 in family and medical leave benefits.

  • In FY22 (July 1, 2021-June 20, 2022), DFML paid out a total of $602,767,692.31 in family and medical leave benefits, which resulted in a 37% increase in total benefits paid between FY22 and FY23.

Employer Reimbursement

Employers may qualify for reimbursement of benefits paid to their employees if they offer a paid temporary disability, family or medical leave policy, or an extended illness leave bank that provides equal or more generous benefits than those provided under the PFML law.

In FY23 DFML paid out a total of $1,316,929.75 in family and medical leave reimbursements across 109 employers. The total employer reimbursement payment is included in the total benefit’s distributed for FY23.

  • $692,766.37 for family leaves
  • $624,163.38 for medical leaves

Previous fiscal year comparison at a glance

Metric FY22* FY23 Percent Change
Approved Applications 112,531 143,256 27.39% Increase
Average Leave Duration 12 Weeks 9.40 Weeks 21.66% Decrease
Average Weekly Benefit - Family Leave $793.55 $774.01 2.46% Decrease
Average Weekly Benefit - Medical Leave $754.84 $791.36 4.84% Increase
Calendar Days to Final Determination 37 Calendar Days 27 Calendar Days 27.03% Decrease
Calendar Days to Initial Determination 17 Calendar Days 17 Calendar Days 0% Change
Covered Individuals 79,898 97,640 22.21% Increase
Denial Rate 19.64% 16.28% 17.16% Decrease
Denied Applications 27,507 27,863 1.30% Increase
Individual Average Weekly Wage $1,421.80 $1,155.48 18.73% Decrease
Total Applications 140,038 171,219 22.26% Increase
Total Benefits Paid Out $602,767,692.31 $832,548,618.16 38.12% Increase

 

*FY22 was the department’s first full operational fiscal year.

Fiscal Year Improvements

The Department saw an increase of 27.39% in approved applications in FY23:

  • The increase in approved applications was brought on by a 22.26% increase in total applications and a 17.16% decrease in the percentage of applications that were denied.  
  • The 17.16% decrease in the percentage of applications that were denied was the result of a decrease in the percentage of applications that were denied for insufficient documentation.
    • Despite claims increasing by 22.26%, the overall number of applications denied for having insufficient documentation decreased by 45.5%.

The number of unique covered individuals accessing PFML benefits increased by 22.21%.

The Department issued final determinations faster, reducing the average time it takes to issue a final determination by 10 calendar days.

  • Overall, there was a 27.03% decrease in the time it takes the Department to issue a final determination.

The average wage for a covered individual decreased by 18.73%.

Date published: February 7, 2023

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