Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave

Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave (MA PFML) is a state-run program that provides employees with job-protected paid leave for both medical and family reasons. This benefit runs concurrently with the commonwealth’s Earned Sick Time law and federal FMLA.

Massachusetts passed a state law providing employees job-protected paid leave for family and medical reasons. It is funded through employer and employee payroll contributions, is separate from the federal FMLA and any private company benefits, and requires all employers, regardless of size, to participate.

The Massachusetts PFML law provides up to 26 weeks of paid time off for qualified employees. Employees who need to take leave may apply for either a Medical Leave for their own serious health condition or Family Leave to bond with a new child within 12 months of birth, placement, or adoption; care for a seriously ill family member; or military exigency. Employees must meet certain minimum earnings requirements to be eligible for PFML, including the last four completed quarterly wages and 30 times the weekly unemployment insurance benefit amount that would be paid if the employee were to file for unemployment.

What is the Difference Between MA PFML and FMLA

What is the Difference Between MA PFML and FMLA?

MA PFML is a state-funded program that allows employees to take paid family and medical leave. Typically, an employee will contribute a small percentage of their gross wages to the MA PFML plan. Employers will also contribute to the MA PFML plan up to certain published caps. An employee may choose to have these contributions automatically deducted from their paycheck.

Unlike the federal FMLA, which only applies to employers with 50 or more employees, MA PFML covers all Massachusetts employers, including smaller businesses. Additionally, PFML covers more types of family and medical situations than the federal FMLA, including adoptions and caring for an injured or sick family member.

Employees can use PFML in addition to any accrued vacation, personal, or sick time they have or take leave under other federal and Massachusetts state laws. However, if an employee takes a period of PFML that overlaps with a period of unpaid FMLA leave, the employer must provide the employee with an additional week of PFML.

The PFML benefit is paid at 64% of the state average weekly wage (SAWW). During the benefit year, an employee can receive up to 26 weeks of benefits. During this time, an employee’s PFML benefits will offset any group short-term disability or long-term disability coverage they have through their employer and Emerson.

Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave

Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave

PFML provides job-protected, partially paid leave to workers who need to bond with a child or care for an ill family member. It also allows employees to take time off for a serious health condition. The Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) recently rolled out several important updates to the program. This Holland & Knight alert summarizes key updates and recommends steps employers should take to ensure compliance.

DFML has increased the functionality of its online application system. In particular, it now allows employer leave administrators to search and sort worker applications. It also allows workers to check the status of their application. In addition, DFML has updated the certification of a serious health condition form to make it easier for workers to submit the necessary documentation.

As a reminder, employers must provide workers with a written notice of their PFML coverage and contribution rates. The notice must also include information on the workers’ rights to FMLA and ADA accommodation.

In addition, employers who opt out of the DFML state plan must offer private PFML or medical leave benefits. As a leading administrator of statutory short-term disability and maternity insurance, Guardian offers a private plan that complies with the PFML requirements for employers in Massachusetts. Our plan combines medical and family leave into one administrative process for employees, including one claim number for each medical event, one case manager, and integrated employer reporting.


Employers have many questions as the Massachusetts PFML program continues to roll out. Some are exploring whether to continue offering private coverage or how best to manage the remittance process. This blog post sheds light on some of the common issues that arise in this area.

One major issue is that of whether employees may “top off” their PFML benefits with accrued but unused vacation or other paid leave. Governor Baker recently vetoed legislation that would have allowed this, but the issue may resurface.

Another issue is that of the eligibility requirements for PFML. Unlike FMLA, the PFML law applies to all employers regardless of size and also allows employees to take time off to care for family members with serious health conditions, as well as those who are expecting the birth or adoption of a child. PFML also expands the definition of family to include domestic partners, grandparents, siblings, and others.

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