Paid Family Medical Leave for employees FAQ

In 2018, Massachusetts signed into law a statute that provides paid family and medical leave (PFML) benefits to workers. Learn more about what effects PFML will have on you as an employee or covered individual.

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Who is covered by the Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) law?

The PFML law creates a paid family and medical leave benefit that will be available to employees, covered individuals, and self-employed persons beginning in January 2021.

  • If you're an employee who works for an employer or a state or federal governmental agency in Massachusetts, you are automatically covered
  • If you’re an independent contractor who contracts with an employer that issues 1099-MISC tax forms for more than 50% of its workforce, you are also covered and the PFML law refers to you as a "covered individual." Check with any employer that you work for as a 1099-MISC worker to determine if you are a “covered individual” on this basis.
  • If you're self-employed, you can opt in to obtain coverage
  • If you work for a city, a town, or other local governmental employer, you are covered only if your employer chooses to opt in

Additionally, there is an earnings eligibility requirement for any individual who wants to take paid leave under the law. You must have approximately 15 weeks or more of earnings and have earned at least $4,700 in the 12-month period before you apply for leave.

Additional Resources

Am I covered by the PFML law if I'm unemployed?

In some circumstances, yes. PFML benefits may be available to you if:

  • You've been unemployed for up to 26 weeks
  • You have approximately 15 weeks or more of earnings as an employee or covered individual in the year before applying for benefits

Are self-employed individuals required to comply with the PFML law?

No. You may elect to pay contributions to get coverage under the PFML law, but participation is entirely voluntary.

Independent contractors who contract with an employer that issues 1099-MISC tax forms for more than 50% of its workforce are treated as “covered individuals,” and their contributions will be remitted to the department by that employer just like their employees.

Additional Resources

Under what circumstances am I eligible for PFML benefits?

  • To deal with your own serious medical condition
  • To care for a family member who has a serious health condition
  • To bond with your child during the first 12 months after the child’s birth or the first 12 months after the placement of the child with you for adoption or foster care
  • To deal with any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that a family member is on active duty or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty in the Armed Forces
  • To care for a family member who is a covered service member with a serious injury or illness incurred or aggravated in the line of duty

Additional Resources

How do I claim these benefits?

Benefits are not available until January 1, 2021.

When must I begin paying the PFML contribution?

Contributions to PFML begin on Oct. 1, 2019.

Additional Resources

How much can my employer deduct from my pay to cover the PFML contribution share?

  • Up to 40% of the total medical leave contribution required for an individual
  • Up to 100% of the total family leave contribution required for an individual

Employers with fewer than 25 workers in Massachusetts must remit contributions to the department on behalf of their workers but are not required to pay the employer share of the contribution for family and medical leave.

When can I begin taking protected Paid Family and Medical Leave?

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2021, you can start claiming benefits for:

  • Bonding with a child or newborn
  • Service member-related events
  • Dealing with a personal serious health condition

Beginning on July 1, 2021, you can start claiming benefits for:

  • Caring for a family member with a serious health condition

Additional Resources

How much is the benefit?

The weekly benefit amount is calculated as a percentage of your earnings and so will vary for each individual. 

The maximum benefit is $850 per week.

What is the maximum period of paid medical leave available?

Paid medical leave is capped at 20 weeks per benefit year.

What is the maximum period of paid family leave available?

Paid family leave is capped at 12 weeks per benefit year.

What is the maximum period of paid family leave available due to active duty by a family member?

Paid family leave arising from a covered service member’s call to active duty is capped at 12 weeks per benefit year.

Paid family leave taken to provide care to a family member with a serious health condition suffered while on active duty in the armed forces is capped at 26 weeks per benefit year.

What is the maximum combined amount of paid family and medical leave I can take?

The maximum amount of combined family and medical leave that an individual may take is capped at 26 weeks per benefit year.

When will the PFML regulations be published?

The statutory deadline for the publication of PFML regulations is March 31, 2019. 

A draft of these regulations was published on Jan. 23, 2019.

Additional Resources

Must a covered individual work for an employer for a certain period of time?

Must a covered individual work for an employer for a certain period of time before applying for and being approved for paid leave?

No. If a covered individual meets the PFML law’s financial eligibility test they may be eligible for paid leave benefits.

How does an employer address the accrual of benefits while an employee is out on leave?

If an employer’s company policy is to provide vacation, sick time and other benefits to employees based on the number of hours worked, how does an employer address the accrual of benefits while an employee is out on leave?

As long as the employer acts in a manner consistent with its uniformly-applied policies or practices, leave periods under M.G.L. c. 175M need not be treated as credited service for purposes of benefit accrual, vesting, and eligibility to participate.

If I have more questions where should I go?

Please be sure to check back here regularly as this page will be updated with the latest information regarding Paid Family and Medical Leave in Massachusetts. You can also submit a written inquiry to the Department of Family and Medical Leave via our contact form.

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