Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave guide

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State paid family and medical leave laws are on the rise in the United States, with a total of nine states - including Massachusetts - offering paid leave to their workforces for certain qualifying life or medical events. 

What are state paid family and medical leave laws?

State paid family and medical leave laws provide for paid leave from work for eligible employees based on certain qualifying life events, such as the birth or adoption of a child, to care for oneself or a family member who is experiencing a serious medical condition, or to care for a family member injured while on active duty in the military, among others. Employees receive a weekly benefit which represents a portion of their regular compensation based upon a state created formula.

We've compiled a review of Massachusetts' Paid Family and Medical Leave to ensure you're aware of key upcoming dates and the requirements to ensure your compliance.

Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave

PLEASE NOTE: CheckWriters clients who opt for the private plan exemption and require the setup of an employee deduction must contact their Account Specialist as soon as possible.

KEY DATES:
*Private Plan Renewal Deadline Extension: Provisional approval for private plan exemptions for the period of October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020, have been extended through December 31, 2020. On November 30, 2020, the renewal application period will open for employers with fully-insured private plans. Please visit the link here for more information on the renewal process.
*Effective January 1, 2021, employees whose applications for benefits have been approved, may begin to receive most benefits available under the PFML program, with the exception of paid family and medical leave related to the care of a family member with a serious health condition which will become available on July 1, 2021.
*Starting in December 2020, employees who will be seeking leave to bond with a child newly born, newly adopted, or newly placed in foster care after January 1, 2021, may apply for benefits.

  • Employee Eligibility Criteria:
    • Applies to all Massachusetts employers regardless of size.
    • Coverage is available to all W-2 employees who work in MA (or former employees unemployed for 26 weeks or fewer) and who meet the earnings threshold below.
    • Employees must have earned at least $5,100.00 during the last 4 completed calendar quarters and at least 30x more than the anticipated benefit the employee would be entitled to receive under the program.
  • Weekly Benefit Amount:
    • Weekly maximum benefit amount is based on the state average weekly wage in Massachusetts (SAWW) which was $1,431.66 in 2019 ($1,487.78 in 2020). Employees whose average weekly wage is less than or equal to 50% of the SAWW will receive a benefit of 80% of such wages. Employees whose average weekly wage exceeds 50% of the SAWW, will receive a benefit equal to 50% of their wages, up to a weekly maximum of $850.00.
  • Employee and/or Employer Contributions to the program:
    • For employers with 25 or more employees, the program is funded by both employer and employee contributions.
      • Total contribution is 0.75% of employee wages up to the Social Security maximum wage base which is $142,800.00 for 2021 ($137,700 for 2020).
        • Employees are responsible for up to 100% of paid family leave contribution (0.13% of eligible wages through payroll deduction).
        • Employees are responsible for up to 40% of paid medical leave with employer being responsible for remaining 60%. The combined total Paid Medical Leave contribution represents 0.62% of eligible wages.
        • Employers may elect to pay some or all of the employee's share of the paid family leave contribution, and/or to contribute more than their employer required obligation relative to paid medical leave.
      • For employers with less than 25 employees, the program is funded solely by employee contributions via payroll deduction.
        • Total contribution is 0.378% of employee wages up to the Social Security maximum wage base which is $142,800.00 for 2021.
        • Employees are responsible for 100% of paid family and leave contributions (0.13% of eligible wages for family leave and 0.248% of eligible wages for medical leave contributions).
      • Duration of Leave:
        • Up to 26 weeks of combined paid family and medical leave in a single benefit year.
      • Qualifying events making employees/participants eligible for leave:
        • 12 weeks to bond with a new child after birth, adoption, or foster placement during first 12 months of child’s life/placement.
        • 12 weeks to care for a family member with a serious health condition.
        • 20 weeks to care for employee’s own serious health condition.
        • Up to 26 weeks of family leave to care for family member in the military who is seriously injured or ill.
        • Up to 12 weeks of family leave to manage financial, legal, or other arrangements incident to a family member’s military deployment to another country.
      • Other relevant Information:
        • Notice Requirement: employers must display workplace poster that explains benefits under PFML and must provide written notice regarding PFML benefits to each employee within 30 days of their first day of employment. Employers must obtain a written acknowledgement of receipt or refusal of receipt from each employee.
        • Leave under the MA PFML is job-protected leave. At the conclusion of an employee’s leave, an employer is required to restore an employee to the same position they had pre-absence, or one with the same pay status, benefits, length of service credit, and seniority. During leave, an employer is required to maintain any existing health insurance which it provided prior to the leave.
        • Private Plan Exemption: Employers may opt-out or apply for an exemption from participation in the PFML program through a privately funded family and medical leave program. The state has to approve all private plans, which must provide at least the same benefit at no additional cost as compared to the cost of the public PFML plan. For more information on private plans and applying for an exemption, click here.
          PLEASE NOTE: CheckWriters clients who opt for the private plan exemption and require the setup of an employee deduction must contact their Account Specialist as soon as possible.

Please visit Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave website for more information and additional resources.

 

Disclaimer: The information contained herein is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. Employers should closely monitor the rules and regulations specific to their jurisdiction(s) and should seek advice from counsel relative to their rights and responsibilities.

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