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Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) overview and benefits

Learn more about Massachusetts's Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML), including how to apply, leave benefits, and approval timelines.

Table of Contents

What is Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML)?

Paid family and medical leave (PFML) is a program designed to help people in Massachusetts take paid time off of work for family or medical reasons. If you are looking to apply for paid time off, you can learn how to begin an application online.

Massachusetts’s PFML law is funded through employer and employee contributions, and is different from the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, and from any benefits your employer might already offer. 

If you need to take paid leave, the first thing you will to do is inform your employer. Once you have done this, you are legally protected against changes in pay, losing your benefits, and retaliation. 

Additional Resources

Who’s eligible for Paid Family and Medical Leave?

The PFML law covers most W-2 (full-time, part-time, and seasonal) and some 1099-MISC workers who have earned at least $5,400 (in 2021) or $5,700 (in 2022) over the past 4 calendar quarters. In addition, you must have earned at least 30 times the benefit amount that you are eligible for.

If you are self-employed, you may opt in through MassTaxConnect. If you have questions about your PFML eligibility, ask your employer.

Some employers are not covered by default-though they may vote to opt-in. Here is a more detailed list of organizations that are not covered by the PFML law unless they opt-in.

What can I take paid leave for?

You can take paid leave to:

  • Bond with a child in the first 12 months after the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement
  • Manage your own serious health condition
  • Care for a family member with a serious health condition
  • Care for a family member who is or was a member of the armed forcesNational Guard or Reserves and developed or aggravated a serious health condition on active duty
  • Manage family affairs when a family member is on duty in the armed forces, including the National Guard or Reserves

There are several different kinds of leaves you might take depending on your circumstances. Learn more about different types of leave here, including what you will need to prepare to apply for each.

In addition, the PFML program provides flexibility in how you schedule your leave. You can take it all at once or a few days at a time per week. Learn more about what kinds of schedules PFML accommodates here.

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 days. It requires one of the following:

  • Overnight stay in a medical facility
  • 2 or more treatments by a health care provider within 30 days of whatever prevented you from doing your job
  • At least 1 treatment by a health care provider within 30 days of whatever prevented you from doing your job, with plans for continued treatment, including prescriptions

How much will I get paid?

The easiest way to see how much you will get from paid leave is to use this calculator to estimate your weekly benefits.

In general, your benefits payment is based on your wages, the average weekly wage for Massachusetts workers, and the type of leave you are taking. In 2021, the maximum weekly benefit is $850. In 2022, it will increase to $1084.31. 

Your leave may also be affected by other benefits programs such as unemployment or workers’ compensation. 

Also, your weekly benefit amount may be affected if you work part time if you take reduced or intermittent leave. For example, if you work an average of 20 hours per week and you take 40 hours of leave, that is 2 weeks of leave. However, if you work 40 hours a week and take 40 hours of leave, that’s only 1 week of leave. 

What will I need to begin my application?

 

Notify your employer

Begin by speaking with your employer about when you need to take leave. Try to provide at least 30 days notice before your official start date, if possible.

Then, you can create an account on paidleave.mass.gov and apply online. 

If you’re applying for military-related leave, are self-employed, or unemployed, please call the Department's Contact Center at (833) 344-7365 to get started.

Collect information about your leave

While filling out your application, you’ll be asked for:

  • The reason you're taking leave
  • The date you notified your employer that you need to take leave
  • The date when you are planning to take leave, or when your leave started

Gather documents and personal information

  • Proof of ID, such as a driver’s license or state ID. You can provide a copy of this document online or through the mail.
  • Your bank account information, including your bank's routing number
  • Information from your healthcare provider about the serious medical condition you or your family member is experiencing
  • Your employer’s Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Read more about the documents you may need here.

Find your employer’s Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN, or sometimes just EIN)

Your EIN is a unique number assigned to your employer so that the Internal Revenue Service can identify it, and for tax purposes.

You can find your employer’s EIN on a W-2 form. It will be in Box B, right above your employer’s name and address. EINs are usually 9 digits with a dash after the first 2: XX-XXXXXXX. This number does not change, so you do not need the most recent W-2. 

If you can’t find a W-2 or have not received one yet, try asking your employer. We recommend reaching out to payroll, accounting, or human resources departments first. 

When should I start my application?

You can apply for paid leave starting 60 days before your leave would actually start. Try to notify your employer at least 30 days ahead of time. 

However, it may also be that you need to take leave suddenly and unexpectedly. In those cases, you can apply for paid leave after you began taking time off from your job. This is called retroactive leave.

If you apply for retroactive paid leave, your benefits may be reduced if:

  • You’re applying more than 90 days after your leave began
  • You were still being paid by your employer during your leave
  • You used another leave program, such as your vacation time or sick leave
  • You received another wage replacement from the government, such as unemployment benefits, during that time

Note that if you're applying for retroactive leave, you will need to know the date that your leave began.

The application review timeline

The approval timeline

Within 5 days of you submitting your application, the Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) will notify your employer. Your employer has 10 business days to review your application and provide additional information that will help DFML make a decision.

Here is a more detailed description of the approval timeline and process.

Extending or changing your leave

You may need to update us with new information about your approved claim. Here are some common scenarios and how to address them.

Your payment information has changed: Call our Contact Center (833) 344-7365.

Report intermittent leave hours: If you are taking intermittent or reduced leave, you will need to report your weekly hours by calling our Contact Center's Hours Reporting Line at (857) 972-9256.

Extending or changing your leave details: If you need to report additional income, update your leave dates, end your leave early, or extend your leave, call us at (833) 344-7365.

You will need to let us know that you are extending your leave 14 days before the end of your current leave.

Appealing a decision

After we make a decision about your application, you have 10 days to file an appeal. You can appeal online, or you can mail in the appeal form that came along with your denial notice. Here are instructions for mailing in your appeal.

You can only appeal a decision on your application. If you want to contest another aspect of your application, such as your weekly benefit amount, you can call us at (833) 344-7365.

You may request a hearing with your appeal. Hearings are virtual, and you may attend with a computer or smartphone. Read our virtual hearings guide to learn more about this process.

Getting paid

If your leave begins in the future, you can expect your first payment 2-4 weeks after your leave begins.

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

After that, you will receive payments each week.

Maximum amount of leave

Different types of paid leave have different maximum amounts of leave that you can take per benefit year. You can take more than one kind of leave in a benefit year, but the maximum amount of paid leave you can take in a benefit year is 26 weeks.

7-day waiting period

When you begin your paid leave, in most cases there is a waiting period of 7 calendar days before payments begin. You will not receive any benefits payments during this waiting period. Also, these 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 7 consecutive calendar days after your leave begins, whether you take leave on those days or not.   

During the 7 day waiting period, you can use your Paid Time Off (PTO) and are afforded job protection.

Benefit Year

A benefit year is 52 weeks starting on the Sunday prior to your first day of paid leave through any leave program. So, if you started your leave on a Wednesday, your benefit year starts the Sunday before you started your paid leave, which is the beginning of that week.

Contact

Phone

For questions about benefits and eligibility: (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.

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