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Paid Time Off for Personal or Family Needs

Produced by Alana Clark, Greater Boston Legal Services
Created March 2019

Beginning in January of 2021, the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFML) will allow covered workers to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected paid family leave a year to bond with a new child. The law also provides up to 12 weeks of job-protected paid family leave to care for a loved one with a serious health condition (up to 26 weeks if the serious health condition resulted from active military duty); and 20 weeks of job-protected paid medical leave to address your own serious health condition, including medical complications from pregnancy, birth or postpartum recovery.

When can I start taking time off under the PFML?

January 1, 2021 for leaves to bond with a new child, caregiving leaves for a family member whose serious health condition arose from military service, and for your own medical leave. July 1, 2021 for all other family caregiving leaves.

Is my employer covered by the PFML?

Generally, all Massachusetts businesses that employ one or more individuals are subject to the PFML law. Cities, towns, municipal districts, and their political subdivisions or instrumentalities, and certain non-profits, including some religious organizations, are exempt; however, exempt employers are permitted to opt in.

Am I covered?

If you are an employee with 15 weeks or more in earnings from one or more employers in Massachusetts and have earned at least $4,700 in the 12-month period before you apply for leave, you meet the threshold eligibility requirement for PFML.

If you are self-employed, you can opt in to obtain coverage.

If you work for a city, a town, or other municipal employer, you are covered only if your employer chooses to opt in

Under what circumstances am I eligible for PFML benefits?

  • To address your own serious health condition
  • To care for a family member who has a serious health condition
  • To bond with your child during the first 12 months after the child’s birth or the first 12 months after the placement of the child with you for adoption or foster care
  • To deal with any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that a family member is on active duty or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty in the Armed Forces
  • To care for a family member who is a covered service member with a serious injury or illness incurred or aggravated in the line of duty

Who is a family member under the PFML?

  • Under the PFML law, like the FMLA, a covered employee can receive leave to care for their spouse, child, and parent.  In addition, the law also allows a covered individual to take family leave for domestic partners, parents of a spouse or domestic partner, grandchildren, grandparents, and siblings.

How long can I be on leave in a 12-month period?

  • 12 weeks of paid family leave to bond with a new child
  • Up to 12 weeks of paid family leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition
  • Up to 26 weeks of paid family leave to care for a family member whose serious health condition arose from active duty military service.
  • Up to 20 weeks of paid medical leave for your own serious health condition.
  • All leave is capped at 26 weeks in a single benefit year.

Does my PFML leave run concurrently with any other leave?

Yes, leave under the PFML law runs concurrently with job-protected leave under the Massachusetts Parental Leave Act, and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, if the leave is for a purpose covered by these other laws, and if you’re eligible for leave under the other laws at the time you take your PFML covered leave.

Can my employer make me use my vacation or sick time before using PFML leave?

No, employers cannot require employees to exhaust rights to any sick, vacation, or personal time prior to or while taking leave.

How much will my benefit amount be?

Your benefits will be based on your average weekly earnings, up to a maximum of $850 per week, with the maximum benefit adjusted annually.  The first seven calendar days of leave are not paid, but you can use accrued sick or vacation or other earned time off for those days.

Will I be able to return to my job after my leave is over?

Yes, the PFML law requires that your employer to allow you to return to your job once your leave is over.

I have other questions. Who can I ask?

You can submit a written inquiry to the Department of Family and Medical Leave at [email protected].

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