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Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) application approval timeline

Here's how the paid leave application and approval process works, and how long you can expect it to take.

Table of Contents

Applying for paid leave

If you are applying to take paid family or medical leave for a planned event like a scheduled surgery, you need to give your employer at least 30 days notice before the anticipated start date of the leave and make an effort to schedule your leave for a time that will not disrupt your employer’s business.

If you are taking leave for an unexpected or unplanned life event, you need to notify your employer as soon as possible before the start date of your paid leave.

At the start of your PFML application, you will be asked the date you informed your employer about your leave.

If you do not notify your employer within 30 days of your start date or as soon as it is feasible, your leave might be delayed or denied.

You may file your PFML application up to 60 calendar days in advance of your leave’s anticipated start date. DFML cannot approve applications for paid leave with a start date more than 60 calendar days in the future. You can apply for retroactive paid leave benefits up to 90 calendar days after your leave began, including in cases of taking leave for an unexpected or unplanned life event.

Please gather any required documents before beginning your application. Your application could be delayed if your documentation is not correct. For example, your application is incomplete if you have not provided identity documents that are in color and include the front and back of your document. Your application is also incomplete if your Certification Form (for your serious health condition or a family member’s serious health condition) is not filled out correctly. You have 90 calendar days from the submission of your application to submit all required documents.

Depending on the type of leave you are requesting and the documents you have already prepared, filing your application may take up to 30 minutes.

Additional Resources

Employer review

Within 5 business days after your completed application has been submitted, the Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) will notify your employer and ask them to review it. Your application can only be given to your employer for review if all of your supporting documentation has been submitted.

Your employer will then have 10 business days to complete this review and provide DFML any additional information. If your employer does not complete their review, DFML will make a decision on your application using the information you provided.

Reaching a decision

It is possible that DFML will need more information from you or your employer to complete your application and make a decision. When DFML has your complete application, they will begin review and make a decision within 14 calendar days.

If you disagree with the decision, you have 10 calendar days to file an appeal. Instructions on how to appeal will be sent to you along with the decision.

Additional Resources


You can receive approved paid family or medical leave benefits by direct deposit or by check. You can choose your payment preference and enter your payment information as part of your application either online or through the Contact Center.

Once your application is approved, you can expect weekly payments to begin 2-4 weeks after your leave begins.

If your leave has already begun, you can expect your first payment to arrive 2 weeks after it is approved.

After that, you will receive your payments every week.

Once payments have started, you can log into your account and check your payment status each week.

When you begin your paid family or medical leave, there is a 7-day waiting period before benefit payments start. You will not receive benefit payments during this waiting period. Also, these seven (7) days will count against your total available leave for the benefit year.

If you have been approved for intermittent leave, the waiting period will be seven (7) consecutive calendar days after your leave begins, whether you take leave on those days or not. The first day of your intermittent leave is your first reported absence from work.

The waiting period applies to each separate paid leave application, except if a birthing parent begins family leave to bond with their newborn child immediately after having taken medical leave during pregnancy or to recover from childbirth. In this case, the 7-day waiting period for the birthing parent’s family leave would be waived.

Additional Resources



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: May 2, 2023

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