Beginning in January, 2021 most workers in Massachusetts will be eligible to receive up to 12 weeks of paid family leave time and up to 20 weeks of paid medical leave. The Commonwealth’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program (PFML) provides temporary paid leave to eligible workers in order for them to handle personal hardships, such as taking care of a sick relative, dealing with a personal illness, welcoming a new baby, and even for some active duty military situations.
The PFML is a state-offered benefit for workers employed in Massachusetts. Covered individuals include: W-2 workers, including full-time, part-time, and seasonal employees; self-employed individuals; and 1099-MISC workers employed in Massachusetts who do not qualify as independent contractors, and comprise more than 50% of their employer’s workforce. Individuals applying for benefits must have earned at least $4,700 in the previous 12 months.
When can PFML Be Used?
The PMFL offers two kinds of paid leave, the first is paid family leave and the second is paid medical leave. Paid family leave up to 12 weeks may be taken for several reasons including: to care for a sick family member, to bond with a newborn child or child after adoption or foster care placement, and to manage family affairs when a family member is on active duty in the military. For the purposes of the PMFL, family members include a spouse, domestic partner, children, parent or parent of a spouse or domestic partner or a person who stood in loco parentis when the worker was a minor, grandchild, grandparent, or sibling.
Paid medical leave of up to 20 weeks may be taken by Massachusetts employees to manage and cope with a serious health condition. A serious health condition is considered an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves receiving care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical facility, or continuing treatment by a health care provider. The maximum amount of paid family and medical leave combined is capped at a total of 26 weeks per benefit year.
The PFML will be funded by a tax paid by employees and employers. Contributions to this program began on October 1, 2019. The PMFL tax is no greater than 0.75% of an employee’s eligible wage and is separate from both federally mandated benefits offered by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), or other leave benefits offered by employers.
Affect of PFML on the People of Massachusetts
Only time will tell how the new PFML will affect the people of Massachusetts. The legislation highlights the importance of each individual employee’s well-being, the reality that significant family issues impact an individual’s employment. This legislation ensures that an eligible worker is able to not only continue to hold their job, but also will be paid during their approved leave period. For more information on the Act and how it may affect you, please visit: https://www.mass.gov/guides/fmla-leave-family-and-medical-leave-act.