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How other leave and benefits can affect your Paid Family and Medical Leave

Benefits from other government or employer private leave programs may reduce your paid leave benefit amount and the total amount of leave you’re eligible to take.

Talk to your employer directly about questions regarding any private benefit plans they offer. 

For specific programs and scenarios, see below.

Table of Contents

Overview

When applying for PFML, you need to report any other instances of paid and unpaid leave (for any qualifying reason) that you have taken in the 12 months before the start of your current leave. Other types of leave include federal programs like the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and independent leave offered by your employer. Benefits from these leave programs may reduce your paid leave benefit amount and/or the total amount of leave you’re eligible to take.

Amount of leave you’re eligible to take

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

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

For example:

Martha had to get knee surgery so took 20 weeks of medical leave in January. She is due to have a baby in November. Because this falls within the same benefit year, she has 6 weeks of family leave left in her benefit year to bond with her baby.

Reductions to your benefit payments

When you submit your application, any reductions to your weekly benefit amount will be
automatically calculated based on the information DFML receives from you and your employer during the review process.

In addition, reductions can still occur after your leave is approved if you didn’t accurately report other leave or benefits or you are receiving payments/time off from other programs at the same time as PFML.

See below for how specific programs or scenarios affect your total leave allotment or payments.

Unemployment insurance

Unemployment benefits you get during your leave will reduce your paid leave benefit amount. Unemployment benefits you got before your leave started won’t affect your paid leave benefits. 

Worker’s compensation

Workers’ compensation benefits will reduce your paid leave benefit amount. However, if you have a permanent partial disability that happened prior to your PFML application, you may be able to receive both workers’ compensation and paid leave benefits at the same time.

Social Security programs

You may be eligible to take paid leave if you get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI). You must report this income when you apply for paid leave, and it may reduce your benefit amount.

Temporary disability or paid family and medical leave benefits through your employer

You can receive payments from some short-term or long-term disability or paid leave policies through your employer at the same time you receive Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) benefits. Your PFML benefits will only be reduced if the total you receive from both payments is greater than your average weekly wage.

Paid time off through your employer

Most employers offer paid time off (PTO). This includes vacation days, sick days, and personal time. You cannot use paid time off on the same days you receive PFML benefits. Here is what that means during your PFML leave:

At the beginning of your paid leave from PFML

When your PFML leave begins, there is a 7-day waiting period before PFML payments start. You will be on job-protected leave, but you will not receive benefit payments. You can use employer paid time off during this waiting period and it won't affect your PFML benefits. This can be helpful if you want to avoid an unpaid week. Do not report PTO during your waiting week when applying.

For example:

James is taking 10 weeks of medical leave to recover from surgery. Under PFML, the first week is unpaid so he is eligible to receive 9 weeks of PFML payments.  If James chooses to use his paid time off at the beginning of his leave, he may receive his full salary during the 7-day waiting period and it won’t affect the total PFML payments he receives. James should not report to DFML that he is taking PTO during the 7-day waiting period.

In the middle of your paid leave from PFML: Using PTO during a continuous leave schedule

If you are taking continuous Paid Family and Medical Leave, you can only use paid time off in a single block of time, either at the start or end of your leave. If you have already started receiving PFML benefits, taking paid time off may reduce your PFML payments to $0 for the remainder of your leave. If this happens, you may need to reapply to receive PFML payments again.

In the middle of your paid leave from PFML: Using PTO during an intermittent or reduced leave schedule

If you're taking reduced or intermittent leave, there will be days or times you're scheduled to work. If you need to take time off for an unrelated family or medical leave reason on those days, you can use employer paid time off.  

For example, if you are taking a vacation or going to court, this will not stop your PFML benefits. If you take time off unrelated to your PFML leave, you don’t need to report the time to DFML. 

At the end of your paid leave from PFML

You can use paid time off at the end of your PFML leave. Your PFML benefits will stop but you will remain on job-protected leave until the end of your leave.

For example: 

Mark is taking 7 weeks of leave to care for his domestic partner while he is recovering from a broken ankle. To extend his leave to 8 weeks, he chooses to use 1 week of sick time at the end of his leave. His PFML benefits will have stopped and this will not affect his payments.  

Additional Resources

Holidays

Holiday pay is the equivalent to other forms of PTO. An employee cannot receive compensation from their employer and a benefit from DFML on the same day. If an employer pays an employee for a holiday while on paid family or medical leave, it will reduce benefits to zero and the remainder of the leave will be cancelled.

  • For example, Tessa is on medical leave for 6 weeks in the summer. Her company pays her for the July 4th holiday. As a result, Tessa’s leave was cancelled and she did not receive a benefit payment for the holiday.

Bonuses

Income received through a bonus, like a holiday bonus or an annual sum paid out at the end of the year, will not cause a reduction in your benefits for the week in which it is paid. You should not report bonuses to the Department in your application or when reporting other income received during your leave.

Commissions

Employers and employees should not report commissions to the Department when reporting other income received during a leave. Generally, commissions that are paid out when an employee is receiving PFML benefits will not cause a reduction in PFML benefits for the week in which it is paid. 

There are two main exceptions to this rule:

  • “Draws” on commissions: A “draw” is a weekly stipend that counts against commissions earned. Since a draw is similar to a salary, it is in essence “regular pay.” Employees should not receive their regular draw and full PFML benefits at the same time.

  • Commissions with a quick turnaround: Likewise, if an employee works while on leave and earns commissions because of that work (for instance, a furniture salesperson earns 5% commission on sales they make each day) then those commissions would be ‘regular pay’ and should not be received at the same time as PFML benefits. 

When school is not in session for educators and teachers

Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits will not be paid when school is not in session. If the planned leave is scheduled during a school break, it won't count against the teacher’s or educator’s total weeks of leave.  

Educators and teachers will need to report this as part of their application and when discussing their leave schedule with their employer.

Working for your employer while receiving PFML benefits

You can’t work for your employer if you’re receiving PFML benefits unless you are taking leave on a intermittent or reduced schedule. 

If you work outside of the agreed upon schedule, you’ll lose your leave payments for that week. 

For example:

Conan was approved for 8 weeks medical leave on a reduced schedule where he took leave 3 days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday). On the third week of leave, his employer asked him to work on Wednesday. Conan worked that Wednesday and reported it as part of his weekly report to PFML. As a result, he was not paid for his medical leave that week. If a payment had already been issued, the next payment would be adjusted. 

Contact

Phone

Get answers to your questions in English, Español, and Português. Translation services for up to 240+ languages are also available. (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.

Last updated: March 21, 2022
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