This year, Massachusetts enacted a new Paid Family and Medical Leave Law. Massachusetts is one of only nine states with paid leave for employees and offers one of the most generous paid leave programs in the country. Some say the Massachusetts law may become a blueprint for a national paid leave policy.
Here’s what Massachusetts employers need to know about this new labor law.
What the New Massachusetts Paid Family Leave Law Requires
The law allows eligible Massachusetts employees to take up to 26 weeks of paid leave per year. Employees can take leave for a variety of reasons:
- up to 26 weeks to care for a family member in the armed services with a serious health condition;
- up to 20 weeks for their own serious health condition;
- up to 12 weeks to bond with a new child after pregnancy, adoption, or a foster care placement;
- up to 12 weeks to address a need that arises from a family member’s active military duty or impending call to active duty; and
- up to 12 weeks to care for a family member with a serious health condition. Qualifying family members include spouses and domestic partners, children (including biological, adopted, foster, and stepchildren), parents and parents of spouses or domestic partners, grandchildren, grandparents, and siblings.
The latter provision went into effect on July 1, 2021; the others became effective on January 1, 2021.
Employees on paid family medical leave will receive a weekly benefit. The amount of that benefit is a percentage based on the employee’s earnings. The maximum an employee can earn in a week is $850 for 2021; the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave will re-evaluate this maximum every year.
How Massachusetts Employees File for Paid Family and Medical Leave
If your company has an approved private leave plan, it will have a set of required application procedures. Otherwise, employees will apply for paid leave through the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave.
If an employee applies for paid leave, the Department of Family and Medical Leave will send your company an email. You’ll then need to confirm within 10 days whether the employee is eligible for leave, including how much leave the employee has left in the year. You’ll also need to indicate whether the employee’s hours or work patterns suggest fraudulent activity.
What Massachusetts Employers Need to Do to Comply With This New Massachusetts Labor Law
If you don’t already have a policy governing paid family and medical leave, now is the time to draft and implement one. Additionally, Massachusetts law requires you to give your employees notice of the paid family and medical leave benefits that they’re entitled to receive. Finally, you’ll also need to display a paid family and medical leave poster. If you have employees who speak languages other than English, you’ll need to display this labor law poster in those languages as well.
Our Massachusetts labor law poster package includes this new paid family and medical leave poster as well as all other required Massachusetts posters. And, if you sign up for our 1-Year Compliance Plan, you’ll receive regular updates, so you’ll never fall behind with labor law poster updates again.