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PFML frequently asked questions for employers

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

Table of Contents

General information

Does the Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) track the amount of leave taken or is it up to the employer?  

DFML tracks all leave reported to us and leave left in an eligible employee’s benefit year. However, the employer must inform DFML about any leave time taken by an employee through an employer-sponsored program that would count toward the overall leave taken during the benefit year. This type of leave should be provided to DFML during the employer’s leave application review process. 

Do I have to notify my employee if an application is approved or denied?  

No. DFML will send out an approval or denial following a decision on the application. Notifications are sent to the employee and your leave administrator(s) to let them know the application was approved or denied with a link to view a copy of the decision. 

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

There is no minimum period before an employee can take leave. However, the employee must have met all the requirements through either current or previous employment. 

Application process

What should an employer do in a scenario where PFML approval is backdated, and the employee has already been paid PTO? 

Any paid time off (PTO) received during an employee’s PFML benefit period must be reported so the benefit amount can be adjusted accordingly.  

We are unsure of the 'start' date to use on the application. Is it the date the employee stopped coming into the office or the date they decided to file for PFML?  

The date they started leave. If the leave began before applying for PFML benefits, the prior leave will be deducted from the employee’s eligible leave bank.   

Reviewing employee applications

How do I sign up as a leave administrator? 

Learn how to create an account as a leave administrator to review employee applications. 

How do we remove people who should not have leave administrator access?  

A current leave administrator can call the Contact Center at (833) 344-7365 to remove another leave administrator. 

Do I need go to paidleave.mass.gov to complete documents for my employee’s application to move forward, or is the website only for employer verification purposes?  

You will receive notifications when the employee files an application and when it’s time for you to review the information provided by the employee. You then can go to paidleave.mass.gov to provide any additional information regarding the employee’s application and whether you approve or deny the application.  

What if a large employer has employees with the same name?  

The last 4 digits of an employee's Social Security number, date of birth as well as a unique PFML application ID number are used to differentiate applications. In addition, there are other distinguishing case data points. 

Do the employer notification emails only go to one person even if there are multiple admins, or do they get sent to all admins?  

All registered leave administrators receive notifications. 

As an employer, what happens if someone responds that they are not the correct person in the organization to respond? Does an email get sent to someone else in the organization?  

An email is triggered to all the leave administrators registered to the employer’s EIN. If you are not the right person to respond, please don’t complete the review process as it will block the correct person from responding. DFML suggests forwarding it to the leave administrator registered with DFML. 

Sometimes employees who are no longer with us still appear under our FEIN. Will there ever be an option to state when they separated with us to close out the application or reroute it?  

If a former employee files a PFML application, you will receive a response form where you can notify us that the employee is no longer employed and/or is employed elsewhere. (Please note that former employees will be covered for up to 26 weeks after departure unless they start new employment.)  

Paid time off and payments

What happens if an employee receives more than 100% pay due to DMFL?  

If DFML determines more benefits were awarded than the employee was entitled to, an overpayment will be created, and the employee will be instructed to repay the benefits.    

If an employee was accidentally paid while they were also receiving PFML what is the best course of corrective action (if needed)? 

Report the income received to our Contact Center at (833) 344-7365. The Contact Center can also provide the employee with any overpayment information – how much, if any has been overpaid, and how to return monies paid in error to DFML.  

Can the employee choose to use PTO instead of PFML if the benefit payment is higher?  

Yes. An employee can choose to use PTO instead of PFML benefits. They cannot use PTO and receive PFML benefits on the same day. If they choose not to receive PFML benefits, they don’t need to file an application with DFML and would still receive the protections afforded to them.  

What is the 7-day waiting period or week?  

When an employee begins their paid leave, in most cases there is a waiting period of 7 calendar days before payments begin. They will not receive any benefits payments during this waiting period. Also, these 7 days will count against their total available leave for the benefit year. If they have been approved for intermittent leave, the waiting period will be 7 consecutive calendar days after their leave begins, whether they take leave on those days or not. For this week, an employee may take PTO up to their average weekly wage.   

Do employees need to be a week off the payroll before they start their PFML?  

Employees don’t need to be off payroll, it’s your choice as the employer. Employees can choose to use accrued paid time off during their waiting week. Following the waiting week, DFML will pick up the payments. If employees are paid by you after the waiting week, that needs to be reported to DFML as other income and will affect their benefits. 

Other leave and income

How does an employee provide information on other income or leave benefits? 

Employees need to provide information as to whether they are receiving income and time off from other sources in their application. 

Does the employee need to report short-term disability or long-term disability?  

Yes. Short-term and long-term disability should be reported. However, short-term disability benefits that are supplementing their approved PFML benefits (topping off to their average weekly wage) do not need to be reported.   

For short-term disability carriers, who is the first payor? How does it work if it is self-funded or is a personal disability policy that is paid for with after tax earnings?  

In most cases, DFML is the first payor, and the short-term disability carrier supplements (tops off).  STD carriers estimate our benefit and then top off to the employee’s average weekly wage. They may pay first but our benefit will be topped off by the STD carrier.  Policy plans like this or AFLAC do not need to be reported.  

When reviewing, do you let us know we don't need to include employer-sponsored programs if we are topping off their state benefit?    

You do not need to report top offs unless it will exceed an employee’s average weekly wage.  

If we are allowing employees to use paid time off like sick time to receive full salary replacement, should they report those hours?  

Yes. For continuous leave applications, an employee cannot collect both PFML and PTO benefits during the same benefit week (no topping off). Any PTO used concurrently will result in the employee’s PFML benefits being reduced to $0. For intermittent applications, an employee is allowed to receive both within the same week but are not permitted to receive both on the same day.   

Can an employer supplement wages for an employee who is receiving PFML benefits (i.e. can the employer “top-off” the PFML benefits)? 

Only under specific programs, yes.  A “top-off” of an employee’s PFML weekly wage replacement benefits is allowed if the additional wage replacement is from: (1) a temporary disability policy or program of an employer; OR (2) a paid family leave policy or paid medical leave policy of an employer; AND, in all cases the combined amount of weekly PFML benefits and “top-off” benefits does not exceed the employee’s average weekly wage.  The employee’s PFML benefits will be reduced if the total amount they receive from both payments is greater than the employee’s average weekly wage.

PFML wage replacement benefits may not be otherwise “topped-off” with other wages like employee PTO, sick time, or vacation time.

We receive quarterly bonuses for the prior quarter. How should this be recorded? 

You do not need to report bonuses as other income to DFML when applying or during leave. Read more on bonuses here. 

Contributions

What are the retroactive contribution requirements for an employer that has terminated a private plan exemption?  

For plans starting on or after Jan. 1, 2021 

Employers with an exemption that first became effective on or after Jan. 1, 2021 will need to keep the exemption in place for one term of four (4) consecutive quarters. If an employer terminates their private plan prior to completing the initial term, they will owe retroactive contributions back to the effective date and be responsible for providing coverage until the termination date. 

For plans that started before Jan. 1, 2021 

Employers with an exemption which was initially effective prior to Jan. 1, 2021, will need to go through one (1) renewal cycle to not owe retroactive contributions. A renewal cycle means an initial term and one renewal term, with each term lasting a period of four completed quarters. An employer that terminates a private plan prior to the renewal cycle requirement will be responsible to make retroactive contributions back to the effective date of the initial exemption for failure to renew. 

In addition, the amount may be subject to penalties and interest, and the employer may also be required to repay benefits paid to covered individuals. 

Contact

Phone

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.

Last updated: September 12, 2022
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