Massachusetts Paid Family & Medical Leave FAQ

April 8, 2019

Effective July 1, 2019, most employers who employ workers in the state of Massachusetts will be required to participate in the Massachusetts Paid Family & Medical Leave Program (“PFML”). Premiums used to fund the program begin July 1, 2019 and benefits become available to eligible employees Jan. 1, 2021.

***The Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (“DFML”) is still in the process of developing the PFML rules. Please note that the following FAQs are subject to change. More information is available on the DFML website here. ***

Which employers are required to participate in PFML?

Most private employers and businesses who employee Massachusetts workers are required to participate in the PFML program, with limited exceptions. Employers who already provide paid leave benefits to their employees may apply for exemption from PFML if the benefits they provide are at least as great as those offered under PFML. Applications for exemption must be approved by the DFML. The exemption process is still in development.

Is the client or Cast & Crew considered the “employer” for purposes of PFML administration and compliance?

Clients are the employers for purposes of complying with PFML. Cast & Crew handles certain administrative aspects of the program for the benefit of clients and may sometimes be referred to as a “payroll employer.” Cast & Crew will handle employee payroll deductions, will calculate and bill the employer portion of the premium to clients, and will report and remit information and payment to the DFML as required. Nonetheless, clients are responsible for complying with all other employer duties under the law including funding, notice and posting requirements. Clients can learn more about their duties under the law on the PFML website here.

Which employees are covered under PFML?

Most employees who work in Massachusetts are covered by PFML. Self-employed individuals and certain employees who already receive leave benefits from their employer may not be covered. Employees applying for PFML benefits must have approximately 15 weeks or more of earnings and must have earned $4,700 in the 12-month period preceding leave in order to be eligible for benefits. Benefits become available in Jan. 1, 2021.

How is PFML funded?

PFML is co-funded by employer and employee. Clients are responsible for the employer portion of PFML. Premiums begin on July 1, 2019 and the total contribution rate is 0.63 percent of each Massachusetts employee’s maximum taxable earnings as established by the Social Security Administration. Of the 0.63 percent total contribution, employers may deduct up to forty percent of the total medical leave contribution and up to 100 percent of the total family leave contribution from individual employees. The apportionment between family and medical leave contribution rates will be determined each year based on projected benefit costs for each benefit year. The first year’s contribution breakdown is still in development.

Who administers the PFML program?

The PFML program is administered by the DFML. The DFML will determine questions of exemption, eligibility, benefit amount and usage, and wage replacement. Cast & Crew will remit required premiums and report employee wages and hours worked to the DFML as required. The reporting rules are still in development.

How do employees apply for and receive benefits under PFML?

Benefits become available to employees on Jan. 1, 2021. The process of claiming benefits under PFML is still in development.

What are permissible reasons for leave under PFML?

PFML provides time off for Massachusetts employees dealing with certain family or medical issues. Family leave under PFML may be taken to care for a family member with a serious health condition, to bond with a child during the first twelve months after birth, adoption or foster care placement or manage family affairs when a family member is on active duty in the armed forces. Medical leave under PFML may be taken when an employee is unable to work due to their own serious health condition.

What does the PFML benefit provide?

PFML provides wage replacement benefits for employees who are on leave dealing with certain family or medical issues. The weekly benefit amount is calculated as a percentage of the employee’s earnings, with a maximum benefit of $850 per week. Paid medical leave is capped at 20 weeks per benefit year, paid family leave is capped at 12 weeks per benefit year and leave related to certain military events is capped at twenty-six weeks per benefit year. The maximum amount of combined family and medical leave that an employee may take is capped at 26 weeks per benefit year.

More information is available on the Massachusetts Paid Family & Medical Leave website here.

For notices and posters, please click here.

For further information, please contact Compliance@castandcrew.com.

The proceeding information is provided for informational purposes only, should not be construed as or relied upon as legal advice and is subject to change without notice. If you have questions concerning particular situations, specific payroll administration or labor relations issues, please contact your counsel.

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