Massachusetts Paid Family Leave: Final Regulations & Updates

Details on the Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) Law in MA

  • 20 June 2019
Massachusetts Paid Family Leave: Final Regulations & Updates

Beginning in January of 2021 most workers in Massachusetts will be eligible to get up to 12 weeks of paid family leave and up to 20 weeks of paid medical leave.  With the release of final regulations comes more details, as MA became the 6th state in the nation (plus Puerto Rico) to provide Paid Family and Medical Leave for its workers.

Governor Charlie Baker signed bill S. 2255 into law on June 13, 2019, which delays the collection of the paid family and medical leave (PFML) employee contributions, set by the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act  from 2018.  The bill changes the date that contribution collection begins, from July 1 to Oct 1, and provides clarity on the program design.

Almost immediately following this amendment, on June 18, 2019, the Department of Family and Medical Leave released the final regulations, which provide a schedule of commitments employers must meet until the benefits for PFML begin.  These commitments include:

  • An increase in the initial contribution rate from 0.63% to 0.75% of eligible wages.
  • Clarifications on requirements for employee job security and anti-retaliation.
  • Requirements to private plans in terms of maintaining benefits and records, and more. 
  • Collection of contributions.
  • Extension of the deadline for employers to provide notifications of rights and benefits to their employees to September 30, 2019, and to apply for a private plan exemption by December 20, 2019.

Despite some delays, Massachusetts is well on its way to implementing its Paid Family and Medical Leave program. 

Here are 3 key dates to remember:

  1. October 1, 2019:  Employers must start deducting payroll contributions from covered individual’s wages or other earnings to fund the Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits.

  2.  January 1, 2021:  Benefits begin for paid medical leave, paid family leave related to bonding (birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child), because of a qualifying military exigency, or to care for a family member who is a covered service member with a serious health condition.

  3. July 1, 2021:  Benefits begin for paid family leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition.

 

Sign up here to stay up-to-date on the latest Massachusetts PFML news and other statutory programs

 

Need to get up to speed quickly?

Here are some quick FAQs on Massachusetts’ Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML):

 

Who is eligible to receive MA Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits?

You are eligible if you are a “Covered Individual,” meaning:

  • you are paid wages by a Massachusetts employer;

  • you reside in Massachusetts and are paid for contract services by a Massachusetts entity that is required to report payment for services for more than 50% of its workforce; or

  • you are a self-employed individual who resides in Massachusetts and have chosen to opt-in to PFML

 

Who contributes towards the Paid Family and Medical Leave premium?

Employees/covered individuals, and employers with 25+ covered individuals.  Employers with less than 25 covered individuals are not required to contribute (there is no employer share for small employers which reduces the total contribution amount) but must still remit payment on behalf of their covered individuals.

 

 

What is the total contribution rate for Massachusetts PFML?

  • For groups of 25+ the total contribution rate is 0.75% of eligible wages, which includes the employer and employee share of the cost of PFML

  • For groups with less than 25 employees the total contribution rate is 0.378% of eligible wages, which is essentially the employee/covered individual portion since employers in this category are not required to contribute to the cost of PFML.

 

What is the weekly benefit for Paid Family and Medical Leave in MA?

The weekly PFML benefit is 80% of the portion of the individual’s weekly wage that is equal to or less than 50% of the State avg. weekly wage (SAWW), plus 50% of the portion of the individual’s weekly wage that is more than 50% of the SAWW, the total amount of which is not to exceed the current weekly maximum benefit of $850. 

The weekly maximum benefit is adjusted annually on or before October 1st to be 64% of the SAWW to take effect January 1st following the adjustment.

 

What is the maximum benefit duration for MA Paid Family and Medical Leave? 

It depends on the type of leave taken.  Here’s a handy chart:

Paid Leave Type

Maximum Duration

Aggregate Maximum Duration

Medical Leave

20 weeks

26 weeks combined total between medical and family leave in a benefit year

Family Leave (bonding, caregiving, military)

12 weeks

Family Leave to care for a covered service member

26 weeks

 

Does Massachusetts PFML have a waiting period for benefits?

Yes, the waiting period is 7 days. Meaning, benefits begin on the 8th day.   However, the 7 day waiting period for family leave benefits does not apply in the situation where an individual takes medical leave related to a pregnancy and then immediately follows the medical leave by family leave for bonding.

 

Does PFML provide job protection?

Yes

 

Stay tuned for updates on MA Paid Family Medical Leave and other statutory insurance programs – sign up today!

 

 
 

*Image courtesy of the Office of Governor of Massachusetts

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