Massachusetts

Be in the Know: New Rules on Leave

Massachusetts requires paid medical leave (PML) and paid family leave (PFL) income replacement benefits for eligible workers who need time off from work for qualifying reasons. Massachusetts offers a state program or employers can choose to provide this coverage through a private plan.

Coverage and cost

Learn more about your state rules and eligibility.

Covered employers

All Massachusetts employers are subject to the PFML, with some exceptions:

  • Self-employed individuals and most independent contractors are excluded (they may opt in).
  • Municipal employers are excluded (they may opt in in some cases).
  • Other exceptions may apply. Learn more here.

Coverage options

State plan or approved private plan. Massachusetts employers must apply for an exemption if they wish to offer a private plan instead of the state plan. For approval, they will need to demonstrate that their private plan meets or exceeds the state plan’s benefits, and requirements. See details about exemptions and submitting requests here.

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Cost

  • The cost of the state plan is .75% of an employee’s eligible wages capped at the Social Security Wage base of $142,800 for 2021. This is a split contribution between employer and employee:
    • Paid medical leave: Employees can contribute up to 40% of medical leave. Amounts withheld from a covered individuals wages cannot to exceed $.248/$100 of eligible wages.
    • Paid family leave: Employees can contribute up to 100% of the family leave not to exceed $.13/$100 of eligible wages.
  • An employer may elect to pay all or part of the employee contribution.
  • Employers with fewer than 25 employees are not required to pay the employer portion of the premiums; however, they must collect and remit employee contributions to the state. This does not apply to private plan coverage.
  • For state-approved private plans carriers are allowed to set their own rates; however, the employer must fund any additional cost exceeding the contribution rates listed above.

Employee eligibility

Massachusetts employees that meet both of the following criteria:

  • $5,400 during the last 4 completed calendar quarters
  • 30 times the weekly benefit amount they are eligible to collect

Leave reasons

Family, bonding, medical, and military exigency.

Job protection

Massachusetts PFML provides job protection for 26 weeks in a benefit year.

Other protections and provisions

A benefit waiting period must be met before Paid Medical or Paid Family benefits become available with the exception of bonding followed by pregnancy disability.

Benefits

Maximum annual leave duration:

  • Family Leave — 12 weeks
  • Medical Leave — 20 weeks
  • Military Caregiver Leave — 26 weeks
  • Combined all paid leaves per benefit year — 26 weeks

Pay during leave:

  • Employees earning equal to or less than 50% of the state average weekly wage receive 80% of their wages. Employees earning more than 50% of the state average weekly wage earn an additional 50% of their wages above that amount.
  • Maximum weekly benefit: $850*
*Based on current MA SAWW as of 10/2020
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Timeline and key dates

  • 1/1/21: Benefits available for welcoming a new child, personal medical leave, and specific events related to a family member’s active-duty military service
  • 7/1/21: Benefits available to care for a family member with a serious health condition

Private plan exemption:

The state accepts applications for exemptions on a rolling basis but they do not go into effect until the first day of the following quarter after which the exemption was approved.

More information about private plan exemptions can be found here.

Exemption FAQs:

Have questions?

Reach out to our sales team to learn more about Unum’s state PFML and absence management solutions.