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PFML frequently asked questions for employees

Find answers to your questions about Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML).

Table of Contents

General information

How do I create a PFML account or log in to my PFML account? 

Use this link to log in to your account or create an account. 

When is the Contact Center open?  

The Department of Family and Medical Leave's Contact Center is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For questions about benefits and eligibility, call (833) 344-7365

Does PFML take the place of FMLA?  

No, PFML and FMLA are separate programs that will run at the same time if you are eligible for both. FMLA is a federal program that provides unpaid time off and offers certain job protections. PFML is a paid family and medical leave program offered by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that also offers job protections. Learn how PFML is different than FMLA

Can I accrue vacation and sick time while receiving PFML benefits?  

It depends on your employer's policy. Check with your Human Resources department. 

What is the 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. The exception is if you transition immediately from medical leave to family leave to bond with a child, there is not a second 7-day waiting period. 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 from the first reported day of leave.      

Can my employer mandate when the paid leave is taken?  

You should work out your leave schedule with your employer before applying for PFML benefits. If you do not notify your employer within 30 days of your leave start date or as soon as it is feasible, your leave might be delayed or denied. You must provide the date that you told your employer about your leave request in the application for benefits. If you want to take full-time leave and meet the other program requirements, your employer cannot deny you the ability to take leave.  

Can I use vacation time, sick time, or other PTO while receiving PFML benefits? 

Yes. For applications filed on or after November 1, 2023, employees receiving PFML benefits may supplement (or “top off”) their PFML benefits with any available accrued paid leave (sick time, vacation, PTO, personal time, etc.).

What does “top off” mean? 

Topping off allows employees on PFML to supplement their weekly PFML benefit with their accrued PTO. The combined weekly sum of PFML benefits and employer provided paid leave benefits cannot exceed your Individual Average Weekly Wage (IAWW). Example:  An employee’s IAWW = $2,000 and they have an approved PFML application that pays $1,100 per week. The employee may top off that amount with PTO up to $900 per week, if available.  

How do I calculate my top off amount? 

You subtract the amount of the PFML benefits from your IAWW. The difference is the maximum amount you can get each week from your employer using your accrued PTO.    

What is my IAWW? 

Your IAWW is calculated by DFML from the amount you earned in the last four completed calendar quarters before the start of your benefit year. The IAWW is the average amount you earned per week in the two quarters when you earned the most money (or the one quarter with the most money if you only worked in two or fewer quarters).  

Where can I find my IAWW? 

When DFML approves an application for PFML benefits, it issues an Approval Notice. Your IAWW, along with your weekly PFML benefit rate, will be provided in the Approval Notice. 

Will using PTO during my PFML leave impact my weekly benefit payments?

Using PTO to supplement PFML benefit payments will not impact the amount you receive each week from DFML and does not need to be reported to DFML.

If I started taking medical leave to recover from child birth before November 1, 2023 and plan to take family leave immediately afterwards am I eligible to top off my benefits for the family leave portion?

No. When family leave is added on immediately after medical leave, it is considered one leave and the filing date is considered the filing date of the medical leave.  

Who monitors that I am not receiving more than my Individual Average Weekly Wage (IAWW)?

Employers are responsible for monitoring and ensuring that the combined weekly sum of employer-provided paid leave benefits and PFML benefits does not exceed an employee’s IAWW. 

Employers are also responsible for managing any payments made to an employee that exceed the employee’s IAWW. DFML is not involved in the repayment process for top off overages. This process is solely the responsibility of the employer and the employee. 

If my employer has a private plan exemption for family leave and/or medical leave, does my private plan need to allow for top offs? 



If I am a new employee, how long do I have to work to be eligible?

There is no minimum length of employment, provided that you met the other eligibility requirements for benefits at a previous employer. 

Applying for paid family or medical leave

If my employer has a private plan that offers benefits equal to or greater than PFML, should I still open a PFML account?  

No. You should contact your Human Resources Department for instructions for filing for benefits under a private plan. if your employer offers a private plan and you apply for PFML, your application will be denied. 

If I plan to use continuous leave and then use intermittent leave throughout the remainder of the year, should I file two separate applications?  

Yes. In most situations, using two different types of paid leave benefits requires separate applications. 

If I take separate leaves for the same situation, is there a waiting period each time? 

 Yes. Each separate application for paid leave benefits requires a new 7-day waiting period. The only exception is when medical leave related to pregnancy rolls into family leave to bond with a child.  

Family leave to bond with a child

What is the total number of weeks available for medical leave and family leave for the birth of a baby?  

In total, you can take 26 weeks of paid leave per benefit year. You can split the 26 weeks between medical leave and family leave to bond with a child. However you divide it, you can’t exceed 20 weeks of medical leave or 12 weeks of family leave to bond with a child. You can take medical leave after childbirth or before delivery if your health care provider verifies you have a serious medical condition related to your pregnancy. Learn more about transitioning from medical leave to family leave to bond with a child.  

If I gave birth, do I need to apply for medical leave first or can I just apply for family leave to bond with a child?  

You can apply for family leave to bond with a child as long it is within 12 months from the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of the child. There is no requirement that you take both family and medical leave at the time of a child’s birth.   

Is family leave to bond with a child available to both parents?  

Yes. Each parent or legal guardian may qualify for 12 weeks of family leave to bond with their child during the first year of the child’s life, adoption, or foster care placement. You can choose to take family leave to bond with a child at the same time or separately, as long as you complete the leave before the child’s first birthday, or the one-year anniversary of their adoption or foster care placement. 

Can I start the application process early?  

Yes. You cannot apply more than 60 days before the intended leave date. Estimated dates can be used to apply and modified as necessary.  

Can I split up my family leave to bond with a child or does it have to be taken all at once?  

There is no restriction as to how you split the time if it is taken as continuous leave as long as it is within 12 months of the child’s birth, adoption or foster care placement. The last day of leave must be the day before the child’s birthday or placement anniversary.  If you want to take family leave to bond with a child on an intermittent or reduced schedule, your employer must agree to it. 

Payments and taxes

Are taxes being taken out of the weekly checks?  

The IRS has not yet made a ruling on whether your PFML benefits are considered “taxable income.” Massachusetts tax treatment will follow the guidance provided by the IRS. 

During your application, you have the option to have state and federal taxes withheld from your weekly benefit. This preference cannot be changed once your application has been approved. If you choose to have taxes withheld, we will withhold 5% for state taxes and 10% for federal taxes. These amounts are an approximation and what you owe may be more or less than what is deducted. 

Will benefit payments be made weekly or every other week?  

Continuous leave benefit payments will be made weekly. For reduced leave, payment is made after you take your first 8 hours of leave or if 30 days have passed since the first reported leave. For intermittent leave, when you report leave time you will receive payment after it’s verified with your employer.  

If I’m receiving PFML benefits and I become eligible to collect unemployment, can I double dip?  

No, the benefits would offset each other. Your PFML payment will be reduced by the amount paid by Unemployment Insurance. It is a dollar for dollar offset of benefit payments. 

If I’m receiving PFML benefits and I become eligible to collect workers’ compensation, can I double dip?  

No, the benefits would offset each other. Your PFML payment will be reduced by the amount paid by workers’ compensation. It is a dollar for dollar offset of benefit payments. 

Is there retroactive pay if my application isn't approved until later?  

Yes, you will be retroactively paid from the start of your leave after the 7-day waiting period if your application is approved. 

How soon will someone receive benefit payments once an application has been approved?  

Once your application is approved, you can expect weekly payments to begin 2-4 weeks after your leave begins. If your leave has already begun, you can expect your first payment to arrive 2 weeks after it is approved. After that, you will receive your payments every week.  

When you begin your paid family or medical leave, there is a 7-day waiting period before benefit payments start. You will not receive benefit payments during this waiting period. Also, these 7 days will count against your total available leave for the benefit year. 

Changing your leave

Do I need to submit a new application to extend my leave? Will there be another 7-day waiting period?  

There is no waiting period for an extension. You must let your employer know you want to extend your leave at least 30 calendar days before your current leave expires or as soon as possible. Go online to paidleave.mass.gov or call the Contact Center at (833) 344-7365 to request an extension at least 30 calendar days after your current leave expires.

If you don't request an extension 30 calendar days after your leave expires, you may have to submit another leave application and there may be a second 7-day waiting period.

If I'm on reduced schedule leave two days per week, can I change this later to be more or fewer days per week, or change to a continuous or intermittent leave schedule?  

You can always modify a current approved leave. However, it may require a new application and new documentation. The new application will be sent to your employer for review. Learn more about changing your approved leave.

Contact   for PFML frequently asked questions for employees


Get answers to your questions in English, Español, and Português. Translation services for up to 240+ languages are also available. Call Department of Family and Medical Leave, Get answers to your questions in English, Español, and Português. Translation services for up to 240+ languages are also available. at (833) 344-7365

Department of Family and Medical Leave - Hours of operation: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Department of Family and Medical Leave - Hours of operation: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

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