Update to Paid Family and Medical Leave Law in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave has issued an update to the  Paid Family and Medical Leave notice, which must be posted by employers in the Bay State. The update pertains to the date on which payroll contributions will begin.

These changes go into effect on July 1, 2019. Under the law, covered individuals are eligible for a maximum of 26 weeks of combined paid family and medical leave in a single benefit year.

PFML Employee Benefits and Employer Responsibilities

Below we’ve outlined details of the law, including new information related to payroll contributions.

Notice to Employees

By July 1, 2019, employers are required to post the Paid Family and Medical Leave notice in their places of business. Employers must also distribute particular notices to employees classified as either W2 employees or 1099-MISC contract workers. For more information about this distribution requirement, visit the Paid Family and Medical Leave page at https://www.mass.gov/info-details/informing-your-workforce-about-paid-family-and-medical-leave.

Payroll Contributions

Employers must now begin deducting payroll contributions from covered individuals’ earnings to fund PFML benefits on October 1, 2019 (previously July 1, 2019). Due to the 3-month delay, the total contribution rate has been adjusted from  0.63% to 0.75% of employee qualifying earnings.

Applying for Benefits

Starting January 1, 2021, covered employees may apply for benefits through the Department of Family and Medical Leave. The benefit amount is based on employees’ average weekly earnings, up to a max of $850 per week.

Uses of Leave

Starting January 1, 2021, covered individuals may be entitled to:

  • Up to 20 weeks of paid medical leave for their own serious health condition that prevents them from working
  • Up to 12 weeks of paid family leave for the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child; or a qualifying event related to a family member who is on active duty in the Armed forces
  • Up to 26 weeks of paid family leave to care for a family member in the Armed Forces with a serious health condition

Starting July 1, 2021, covered individuals may be entitled to up to 12 weeks of paid family leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition.

Employee Protections

Employees who take paid family or medical leave must be reinstated to their previous or an equal position at the end of their leave. They must retain the same status, pay, benefits, credit for length of service, and seniority they had when their leave began. These protections do not apply to contractors.

Any employee who exercises her/his rights under the law is protected from discrimination or retaliation by an employer. Current and former employees who have been discriminated against or retaliated against for exercising their rights may file a civil action in superior court within three years of the date of the violation. They may also be entitled to damages of up to three times the amount of their lost wages.

Private Paid Leave Plans

Employers who offer private paid family leave and/or paid medical leave that is as generous as the benefits provided under the PFML law may apply for an exemption from paying the contributions.

Of note to both employers and employees, individuals who receive benefits through a private plan are still protected from discrimination and retaliation under the PFML law.

Compliance Made Easy!

If you have not already done so, we encourage you to order our 1-Year Compliance Plan so that you will automatically receive the updated Massachusetts poster as soon as it is available. And because we provide free poster updates for mandatory changes, no matter how many occur during the 12-month period, you can always count on Poster Compliance Center to keep your business in compliance.