This page, Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) Benefits Guide, is offered by

Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) Benefits Guide

Paid family and medical leave is available to help eligible Massachusetts workers manage their own health and the health of their family members.

Table of Contents

Benefit calculator

This calculator will help you estimate the benefits you could be eligible to receive during your leave.

Eligible types of leave

Paid medical leave may be taken to:

Paid family leave may be taken to:

  • Care for a family member with a serious health condition

  • Bond with a child during the first 12 months after the child’s birth

  • Bond with a child during the first 12 months after adoption or foster care placement

  • Care for a family member who is or was a member of the Armed Forces, National Guard or Reserves and developed or aggravated a serious health condition in line of duty on active duty while deployed to a foreign country

  • Manage family affairs when a family member is on or has been called to active duty in the armed forces, including the National Guard or Reserves

Learn more about each specific type of leave in the sections below.

Additional Resources

About medical leave

Medical Leave provides up to 20 weeks per year of paid leave to manage a serious health condition.

When you apply for medical leave you will need information from your Health Care Provider that says:

  1. When your condition began

  2. How long they think your condition will continue

  3. Any other relevant details about your condition

To get all the right information it's helpful, but not required, to print the form that we made and have your Health Care Provider fill it in.

Additional Resources

About family leave to care for a family member

Up to 12 weeks of family leave may be taken per year to care for a family member with a serious health condition.

For the purposes of family leave used to care for a family member, family members include your spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, grandchild, grandparent or sibling; the parent of your spouse or domestic partner; and guardians who legally acted as a parent when you were a minor. Where your family member lives does not affect their eligibility. You can take paid family leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition no matter where they are.

When you apply for family leave to care for a family member, you will need to provide:

  1. Information from your family member’s health care provider that states:

    • That your family member has a serious health condition

    • When your family member’s condition began

    • How long they think your family member’s condition will continue

    • Any other relevant details about your family member’s condition

    • Information about how often and how long your family member needs you to care for them

  2. The name and address of your family member and their relationship to you

  3. Proof of your family member’s identity

Additional Resources

About family leave to bond with a child

Family leave can be taken by a parent or legal guardian to bond with a child during the first 12 months after the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement.

Eligibility for family leave used for bonding with a child is limited to the child’s parents or legal guardians. Certain family members may be eligible to take family leave for caring for a child that has a serious medical condition.

As a parent or legal guardian, you can take up to 12 weeks of family leave to bond with a child per year. The annual 12-week maximum stays the same even if you have multiple childbirths, adoptions, or foster care placements in the same year. You and your partner may choose to take family leave to bond with the child at the same time, or separately.

Depending on the situation, an expectant mother might also be eligible to take medical leave during or after her pregnancy, if certified by a health care provider. If she would like to take both medical and family leave, it would require 2 separate applications - one for each type of leave. Mothers who choose to take medical leave to recover from pregnancy after their child’s birth may start family leave for child bonding immediately after their medical leave ends, or they can choose to wait and take bonding leave some other time within 12 months after the child’s birth.

As a parent or legal guardian, you can apply for family leave to bond with a child before your child is born, using your child’s expected due date. After your child’s birth, you’ll need to provide the Department with documentation the child’s actual date of birth in order to start receiving payments.

You can apply for family leave to bond with a child before the child has been adopted or placed in your home for a foster care.

To take family leave to bond with a newborn child, you will need to submit any one of these three documents:

  • A copy of the child's Birth Certificate, or

  • A statement from child's health care provider stating child’s date of birth, or

  • A statement from mother's health care provider stating child’s date of birth

To take family leave to bond with a child who has been recently adopted or placed in your home for foster care, you will need documentation from the child’s health care provider, or the foster or adoption agency confirming the date of the child’s adoption or placement.

For children born, adopted, or placed in foster care in 2020

Parents of children born, adopted, or placed in foster care during 2020 may be eligible for family leave to bond with their new child in 2021, regardless of the duration or type of leave taken in 2020. Leave may be taken until the child’s first birthday or the first anniversary of their adoption or foster care placement.  

For example, for a baby was born on April 1, 2020, each parent would be eligible to take up to 12 weeks of family leave to bond with their child beginning on January 1, 2021, until the baby’s first birthday on April 1, 2021. If the baby was born on March 1, 2020, the parents would be eligible for up to eight weeks of leave beginning January 1, 2021 provided that it is taken prior to the child’s first date of first birthday. 

Additional Resources

About family leave for family members who are active service members

There are two types of family leave available if you have a family member who is, was, or will be deployed in a foreign country.

Beginning January 1, 2021, you can take up to 26 weeks of family leave per year to care for a family member who is a current member of the Armed Forces, including the National Guard and Reserves, who is:

  • Undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy for a serious health condition that was received or aggravated while they were deployed in a foreign country

  • In outpatient status for a serious health condition that was received or aggravated while they were deployed in a foreign country

  • On the temporary disability retired list for a serious injury or illness that happened while deployed in a foreign country

  • On the temporary disability retired list for a serious injury or illness that existed before the beginning of the member's active duty, and was aggravated by service while deployed in a foreign country

Also beginning January 1, 2021, you can take up to 12 weeks of family leave per year to manage any needs that take place immediately after a family member is deployed in a foreign country or has been notified of an upcoming deployment in a foreign country. These needs may include:

  • Caring for a deployed family member’s child or other family member immediately before their deployment

  • Making financial or legal arrangements for deployed family member

  • Attending counseling

  • Attending military events or ceremonies

  • Spending time with a deployed family member during a rest or recuperation period

  • Spending time with a family member when they return from deployment

  • Making necessary arrangements following the death of a family member who had been deployed

For both types of family leave, your application for PFML will need to include some basic information about your family member and yourself. You should provide:

  • The name and address of your family member

  • Their relationship to you

  • A copy of your family member’s Active-Duty Orders, a Letter of Impending Activation, or an explanation of other circumstances from their commanding officer

When you apply for family leave to care for a family member who received or aggravated a serious health condition while deployed in a foreign country, you will need to include information from a health care professional that says:

  • That your family member has a serious health condition

  • That your family member’s serious health condition began or was aggravated while they were deployed in a foreign country

  • How long they think your family member’s condition will continue

  • Any other relevant details about your family member’s condition

  • Information about how often and how long your family member needs you to care for them

If you are applying for family leave to manage needs that take place when your family member has been deployed in a foreign country or has been told of an upcoming deployment in a foreign country, you will need to provide the reason you will be taking leave and the requested dates of your leave.

Additional Resources

What is a serious health condition?

A serious health condition is a physical or mental condition that prevents you from doing your job for more than 3 consecutive full calendar days, and requires:

  • Two or more treatments by a health care provider (in-person or during telehealth visit) within 30 calendar days of an inability to perform your duties, or

  • Overnight stay in a hospital, hospice, or medical facility, or

  • At least 1 treatment by a health care provider within 30 days of an inability to perform your duties, with plans for continued treatment, including prescriptions

Serious health conditions include:

  • Pregnancy, including prenatal care and post birth medical recovery. 

  • Chronic conditions, like asthma or diabetes, that stop you from working some of the time, go on for some time, and require going to the doctor more than twice a year

  • Permanent or long-term conditions, like Alzheimer's disease, stroke, or terminal cancer, that might not be curable and will need ongoing attention but will not necessarily require active treatment. For example, when a person is in hospice

  • Conditions requiring multiple treatments, like chemotherapy, kidney dialysis, or physical therapy after an accident

Cosmetic surgery is not considered a serious condition and is not covered for family or medical leave unless inpatient hospital care is required or unless complications develop.

Substance Use Disorder may be considered a serious condition covered by family or medical leave if the patient is receiving treatment from a health care provider, by a provider of health care services on referral by a health care provider, or by a program licensed by the MA Department of Public Health.

In all instances where you are filing for a medical leave for a serious health condition you must provide certification from your health care provider by filling out and returning the Certification of a Serious Health Condition form.

Additional Resources

PFML benefits timeline

You can begin applying for and taking most PFML benefits in 2021. Learn more here.

Additional Resources

Benefit amount details

The amount of benefits you’re eligible to receive for PFML is based on your own average weekly wage when you apply for leave, and the average weekly wage for workers throughout Massachusetts.

  • The part of your average weekly wage that is less than or equal to 50% of the average weekly wage for Commonwealth workers will be covered at a rate of 80%

  • If part of your average weekly wage is greater than 50% of the average weekly wage for Commonwealth workers, it will be covered at a rate of 50%, up to the maximum allowed benefit amount

The average weekly wage in Massachusetts in 2019 was $1,431.66. Fifty percent of $1,431.66 is $715.83.

Currently, any amount of your own weekly wage that is less than or equal to $715.83 will be replaced at a rate of 80%. Any part of your average weekly wage that is greater than $715.83 will be replaced at a rate of 50%, up to the maximum allowed benefit amount.

The maximum total amount that you can receive in PFML benefits right now is $850 per week.

The average weekly wage in Massachusetts is reevaluated each October. We will use that new average weekly wage to calculate PFML benefit amounts, which will start on January 1 of the next year.

Your employer and PFML

Your employer is part of the claim approval process, but they generally can’t reject your leave claim, except in some specific cases. Employers may only reject your claim if they believe: 

  • You have already used your maximum amount of leave for the year 

  • That aspects of your claim are missing, incorrect, or fraudulent 

Your employer can’t reject your leave claim for any budgetary, timing, or other circumstantial reasons. 

Additional Resources

Contact

Phone

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

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

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

Department of Revenue - Hours of operation: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

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