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Types of Paid Family and Medical Leave

You can apply for Paid Family or Medical Leave (PFML) for a variety of reasons, each of which has its own eligibility and approval process.

Table of Contents

Overview

Before you apply for Paid Family and Medical leave you need to:

  • Know what type of leave you want to apply for
  • Talk to your employer and reach agreement on all aspects of your leave

The discussion with your employer should include:

  • The start and end dates of leave
  • The schedule or frequency of leave (continuous, reduced, or intermittent)
  • Relevant policies and guidelines
  • The reason for taking leave

Important terms to know

Maximum amount of leave

Most Massachusetts employees are eligible for up to 26 weeks of combined family and medical leave per benefit year.  

These 26 weeks may include: 

  • Up to 20 weeks of paid medical leave to manage a personal serious health condition  
  • Up to 12 weeks of paid family leave to care for a family member or to bond with a child 
  • Up to 26 weeks of paid family leave to care for a family member who is a member of the armed forces 

You can take more than one kind of leave in a benefit year, but the maximum amount of paid leave you can take in a benefit year is 26 weeks.

Qualifying Reason

A qualifying reason is the cause or event that makes you unable to work and eligible for Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits.

Qualifying reasons include:

  • Caring for your own serious health condition as certified by a health care provider, including illness, injury, or pregnancy/childbirth

  • Caring for a family member with a serious health condition as certified by a health care provider, including illness, injury, or pregnancy/childbirth

  • Bonding with your child during the first 12 months after birth, adoption, or placement

  • Managing affairs while a family member is on active duty

  • Caring for a family member who was injured serving in the armed forces

Benefit year

A benefit year is 52 weeks starting on the Sunday prior to your first day of paid leave through any leave program. So, if you started your leave on a Wednesday, your benefit year starts the Sunday before you started your paid leave, which is the beginning of that week.

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. 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 after your leave begins, whether you take leave on those days or not. 

There will be a 7-day waiting period for each instance of paid leave you take, with only one limited exception: the waiting period will be waived for new mothers who took medical leave either during pregnancy or to recover from childbirth and are taking family leave to bond with a child immediately after the previous medical leave.   

During the 7-day waiting period, you can use your Paid Time Off (PTO) and are afforded job protection.

Additional Resources

Medical leave to manage your own serious health condition

Medical leave provides up to 20 weeks of paid leave per benefit year when you can't do your job for more than 3 consecutive days due to a serious health condition.

Family leave to care for a family member

Family leave provides up to 12 weeks of paid leave per benefit year to care for:

  • Your spouse or domestic partner
  • Your children, stepchildren or domestic partner’s children
  • Your parents, stepparents 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

You can only take a total of 12 weeks of family leave in a benefit year, even if you take different types of family leave. 

You can take paid family leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition no matter where the family member lives.

Family leave to bond with a child

A parent or legal guardian can take up to 12 weeks of family leave in a benefit year to bond with a child during the first 12 months after the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement. This is sometimes known as maternity leave, but a parent of any gender may take family leave to bond with their child in Massachusetts.

The 12-week maximum stays the same even if you have multiple childbirths, adoptions, or foster care placements in the same year. 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.

Additional Resources

Transitioning from medical leave to family leave to bond with a child

You may qualify for medical leave during pregnancy and/or childbirth before taking family leave to bond with a child (sometimes called maternity or paternity leave).

Medical leave must be certified by your health care provider. When your medical leave is complete, you can transition directly into family leave to bond with a child after the child’s birth. Or you can wait to take family leave to bond with a child some other time within the next 12 months. It must be completed before the child’s first birthday.

You can take a total of 26 weeks of paid leave in a benefit year, with up to 20 weeks of medical leave, and up to 12 weeks of any kind of family leave.

Additional Resources

Family leave for family members of active service members

There are two types of family leave available if you have a family member who is, was, or will be deployed.

  • You can take up to 26 weeks of family leave per benefit year to care for a family member with a serious health condition who is a current member of the Armed Forces, including the National Guard and Reserves.
  • You can also take up to 12 weeks of family leave per benefit year to manage any needs that take place immediately after a family member is deployed or has been notified of an upcoming deployment.

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.

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