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PFML: About family leave to care for a family member

Family leave provides up to 12 weeks of paid leave in a benefit year to care for a family member with a serious health condition.

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

  • You need to take time off to care for a family member with a serious health condition
  • 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.

Family members include:

  • Your spouse or domestic partner
  • Your children, step-children or domestic partner’s children
  • Your parents, step-parents or parent’s domestic partner
  • Your spouse or domestic partner’s parents
  • Your grandchildren, step-grandchildren or domestic partner’s grandchildren
  • Your grandparents, step-grandparents, or grandparent’s domestic partner
  • Your siblings or step-siblings

When caring for a family member with a serious health condition, activities can include but are not limited to: 

  • Helping the family member with daily tasks they can’t do themselves, such as helping them get dressed or preparing meals 
  • Providing transportation to the doctor for appointments and treatment 
  • Helping make arrangements for changes in care, such as a transfer to a nursing home

Examples of leave to care for a family member

  • If your mother is having a hip replacement and needs help getting to and from physical therapy, you can take reduced leave, and work fewer hours per day, or fewer days per week, to help her
  • If your spouse is having surgery followed by extensive recuperation where they will need help with basic tasks like walking and getting dressed, you can take up to 12 weeks of continuous leave to help them out
  • If your child is undergoing chemotherapy and has bouts of nausea, weakness, and pain, you can take intermittent leave when you need to care for them

Additional Resources

What is a serious health condition?

A serious health condition is a physical or mental condition and 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

Serious health conditions can include:

  • Chronic conditions, like asthma or diabetes, that stop you from working periodically 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 will need ongoing attention but will not necessarily require active treatment by a certified health care provider
  • Conditions requiring multiple treatments, like chemotherapy, kidney dialysis, or physical therapy
  • Conditions due to pregnancy or post-birth recovery that prevent you from working, as certified by a health care provider
  • Complications related to a diagnosis of COVID-19 that prevent you from working, as certified by a health care provider
  • Substance use disorder may be considered a serious condition if you are receiving treatment from a health care provider

Cosmetic surgery is not considered a serious condition and is not covered by family or medical leave, except when inpatient care is required or complications develop.

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.

Certification of your family member's serious health condition form

You, the employee, and your family member’s health care provider need to fill out the Certification of your Family’s Member’s Serious Health Condition form.

The form includes:

  • A statement that your family member has a serious health condition and any other relevant details about your family member’s condition 
  • When your family member’s condition began 
  • That you, the employee, are needed to care for the family member and what kinds of care might be needed 
  • Information about how often and how long your family member needs you to care for them 
  • The name and address of your family member and their relationship to you

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.

Then, you can 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
  • 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 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 your family member’s serious medical condition from their health care provider
  • 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.

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