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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

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?  

Learn how to add or remove leave administrators from your organization(s).

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 is the 7-day waiting period or week?

When an employee begins their paid leave, in most cases there is a waiting period of seven (7) calendar days before payments begin. They will not receive any PFML benefit 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.

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

Employees do not need to be off payroll; it is your choice as the employer. Employees can choose to use accrued PTO during their waiting week. Following the waiting week, DFML will begin issuing approved PFML payments.

What is “Topping off” and when does it go into effect? 

Employees who apply for Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) benefits on or after November 1, 2023, will be allowed to supplement their PFML benefit with their accrued vacation pay, sick pay, or other paid leave provided under an employer policy (collectively, “Paid Time Off” or “PTO”) while on PFML.

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 what the top off amount would be for each employee? 

You subtract the amount of the PFML benefits from the employee’s IAWW. The difference is the maximum amount that can be paid out using the employee’s accrued PTO.

What is the IAWW? 

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

Will using PTO during PFML leave impact the weekly payments?

Using PTO to supplement PFML benefit payments will not impact your employee’s weekly PFML benefit and does not need to be reported to DFML.

Who has access to the employee’s IAWW and PFML benefit amount? 

All employers must have registered DFML Leave Administrators. An employer’s DFML Leave Administrator can find an employee’s weekly PFML benefit rate and IAWW in the employee’s PFML Approval Notice.

What happens if my employee gets paid too much? 

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. 

Does this impact employees whose leave started before November 1, 2023?

Ongoing PFML leaves that were filed before November 1, 2023, are not eligible to be topped off under these new rules. 

What if an employee files an application on or after November 1, 2023, for retroactive leave dates? 

If the application is filed on or after November 1, 2023, applications filed retroactively for a leave that began before November 1, 2023, are eligible to be topped off.  

What if an employee files an application for retroactive benefits where they have already used PTO for full salary replacement? 

The employee may still file an application for PFML benefits. If the employee receives combined employer provided benefits and PFML benefits greater than the employee's IAWW, the employer is responsible for managing any payments made to the employee that exceeds the employee’s IAWW. Employees are responsible for working with their employer to make sure that the combined weekly sum of PTO and PFML benefits does not exceed an employee’s IAWW. 

As an employer do I have to report back to DFML how much the employee used for topping off? 

No, it is up to employers to oversee the use of topping off and manage employee time while on PFML. Management of topping off benefits is between you and your employees. It is important to let them know what is offered and when, so employees do not report these benefits on their application for benefits. 

What should employers tell employees about their top off options?  

Employers should tell their employees that under the PFML law, they have the option to use their available accrued PTO to supplement their PFML benefits while on leave, up to the employee’s IAWW.  

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

Yes. 

Other income

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 for PFML frequently asked questions for employers

Phone

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. - 5 p.m.

Department of Family and Medical Leave - Hours of operation: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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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