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PFML: About family leave to bond with a child

Family leave provides up to 12 weeks in a benefit year for 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. This is sometimes called maternity leave, but a parent or guardian of any gender may take this leave.

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You are eligible to take family leave if all of the following apply:

  • You are a parent or legal guardian who has welcomed a new child into your family or are expecting to welcome a new child soon
  • You work in Massachusetts for a Massachusetts business or state agency and your employer is participating in the program
  • You meet the earnings requirement

If you’re self-employed, you may opt-in through MassTaxConnect

Learn more about paid leave eligibility.

The annual 12-week maximum stays the same even if you have multiple childbirths, adoptions, or foster care placements in the same benefit year or you take different types of family leave. You and your partner may choose to take family leave to bond with the child at the same time, or separately. 

You must complete your leave before the child’s first birthday, or the one-year anniversary of their adoption or foster care placement.

If you are pregnant you may be eligible to take both pregnancy-related medical leave and family leave to bond with your child. Be sure to apply for medical leave first.

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Different ways you can take your leave

You can schedule your leave 3 different ways.

  • Continuous leave: A single time period of consecutive, uninterrupted days 
  • Reduced leave: A consistent but reduced schedule for multiple weeks 
  • Intermittent leave: Multiple episodes of time off, which may be irregular or unexpected

Additional Resources

Required documents

Proof of identity

When applying for family leave, you’ll be asked to provide proof of your identity to double-check that you are eligible, and to make sure that we send benefits to the right person.

The easiest way to do this will be to provide a color copy of your Massachusetts driver’s license or ID. If you don’t have a Massachusetts driver’s license or ID, that’s OK. You can provide color copies of other documents to verify your identity.

Proof of your child’s birth or placement

For a child’s birth, you will need to submit ONE of these documents:

  • A copy of the child's birth certificate
  •  A statement from the child's health care provider with the child’s date of birth
  •  A statement from the mother's health care provider with the child’s date of birth
  • A hospital statement of birth records

For a child who is adopted or placed in your home for foster care, you will need ONE of these documents:

  • A statement from the child’s health care provider confirming the child’s placement and date of placement
  • A certificate from the foster care or adoption agency confirming the child’s placement and the date of placement
  • A statement from the Department of Children and Families (DCF) confirming the child’s placement and date of placement

Additional Resources

How to apply

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.

You can apply for family leave to bond with a child either before or after the child’s birth or placement.

Create an account on paidleave.mass.gov and apply online. If you’re self-employed or unemployed, call PFML’s Contact Center at (833) 344-7365 to begin your application.

Collect information about your leave

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

  • The reason why you are taking leave
  • The date you notified your employer that you need to take leave

​​​If you are applying before your child is born:

  • Provide an estimated date of when the leave will be taken – this can be the projected date of your child’s birth or placement, or any time up to a year after that
  • Once the child has been born or placed in the home, you’ll provide proof of birth or placement so that the application can be approved, and benefits can be paid out.

If you are applying after your child is born:

  • Provide the date when you are planning to take leave, or when your leave started
  • Provide proof of the child’s birth or placement

Gather documents and personal information

  • Proof of ID, such as a driver’s license or state ID. You’ll can provide a copy of this document online or through the mail.
  • Your Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
  • Your employer’s Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • Your bank account information, including your bank's routing number
  • Information about employer-sponsored benefits, other leave you’ve taken in the past 12 months, and any other sources of income. Other leave and benefits may reduce the amount of benefits you receive during your paid leave.

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.