29 October 2020

Important MA Paid Family & Medical Leave Updates for 2021

Maximum Contribution Rates and Weekly Benefit Information Released for 2021

Important MA Paid Family & Medical Leave Updates for 2021

Each October, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) sets the maximum contribution rates for its Paid Family & Medical Leave (PFML) program for the following year.  Other data is also updated in October such as the Massachusetts statewide average weekly wage (SAWW) which impacts the PFML benefit, and the Social Security income limit which is used in calculating contributions. The numbers are in for 2021 – here’s what you need to know: 

MA Paid Family & Medical Leave Contribution Rates for 2021

For 2021, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) kept the contribution rates the same as they were in 2020 for its Paid Family & Medical Leave (PFML) program.  Under the state plan, the rate for 2021 continues to be set at 0.75% of eligible wages for employers with 25 or more employees, and 0.378% of eligible wages for employers with less than 25 employees.  These smaller employers are exempt from contributing the employer share to the state program.    

Accordingly, under the state plan, the family leave contribution rate continues to be 0.13% of eligible wages for all employees regardless of the size of the employer (employers are not required to contribute to the family leave portion).  The medical leave portion remains at 0.62% for employers with 25 or more employees (the employee share is 0.248%), while it stays at 0.248% for workers at employers with less than 25 employees—since as we previously noted, these smaller employers are not required to pay the employer share for medical leave.  Thus, the employee contribution share in either case is 0.378% (0.13% + 0.248%).  

How to Calculate the 2021 Contributions

Paid Family & Medical Leave utilizes the same income limits for contributions as those set by the Social Security Administration for the Social Security Program. On October 13, 2020, the Social Security Administration announced that the 2021 Social Security income limit increased from $137,700 to $142,800.  So, while the 2021 state contribution rates remain the same as they were for 2020, you will apply the applicable contribution rate to eligible wages capped at the new 2021 Social Security income limit of $142,800.

For more in-depth information on calculating contributions for private plans vs. the state plan, please visit the blog post here.

MA Paid Family & Medical Leave Maximum Weekly Benefit Amount for 2021 

2021 marks the first year that the Commonwealth’s PFML program will be paying benefits to individuals covered under this program.  Weekly benefit calculation:

  • 80% of the portion of the employee’s weekly wage that is equal to or less than 50% of the State average weekly wage (SAWW);
  • plus, 50% of the portion of the individual’s weekly wage that is more than 50% of the SAWW;
  • capped at the Maximum Weekly Benefit. 

Massachusetts state average weekly wage (SAWW) is adjusted annually. Effective October 1, 2020, the SAWW is set at $1,487.78.

The DFML announced that the Maximum Weekly Benefit will remain at $850/week for the calendar year 2021.   

The maximum weekly PFML benefit in 2021 will stay at $850/week for the first year of this new program.

Thereafter, the maximum weekly benefit will be adjusted annually on or before October 1st to be 64% of the SAWW, and takes effect on January 1 following the adjustment.

Learn more about PFML benefits here.

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This blog post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal counsel. Please consult with an appropriate professional for legal and compliance advice. Any Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) is as of the blog post’s date stamp; it is based on the applicable statutes and regulation, and may change as regulations evolve or the Commonwealth of Massachusetts issues guidance regarding PFML regulations. 

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