Critical Updates to the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Law

Recent amendments to the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave law (PFML) now allow employees to supplement their weekly PFML benefit amount with accrued paid leave (vacation, sick time, PTO, etc.). PFML contribution rates and weekly benefits are also set to change.

Topping off With Accrued Paid Leave

Beginning on November 1, 2023, all employees will have the option to “top off” their PFML wage replacement benefits with available accrued paid leave to receive up to 100% of wage replacement during their PFML-qualified leave. 

Previously, employers that offered PFML through a private plan had the option to allow their employees to “top off” private plan benefits with accrued paid leave. Employees who received PFML benefits from the Commonwealth’s program, however, were unable to use accrued paid leave during any leave period in which they received state PFML benefits. Rather, use of accrued paid leave was permitted only during the seven-day wait period when no PFML benefits were available, or in one block of time at the beginning or end of the PFML leave. 

The Massachusetts legislature, following the lead from other states’ leave laws, recognized that during these critical periods, employees should be able to use PFML and their accrued leave balances to fully replace the income they otherwise would have received if not on leave. Employees will now have the discretion to use their accrued paid leave to “top off” or save their paid time off for a later time, and employers must provide employees with this option.

The Department of Paid Family and Medical Leave (“the Department”) is expected to issue guidance for employers tasked with calculating the difference between the PFML weekly benefit and the accrued paid leave, and timely issuing payment.

2024 Contribution Rates and Weekly Benefits

The Department released new contribution rates and weekly benefits effective January 1, 2024

For employers with 25 or more employees, the contribution rate will increase from .68% to .88% of eligible wages. This contribution is divided between the employee’s payroll or wage withholdings and an employer contribution. Up to 100% of the family leave contribution can be withheld from the employee’s individual's wages (0.18% of eligible wages). In addition, up to 40% of the medical leave contribution can be withheld from an employee’s wages (0.28% of eligible wages). Employers are responsible for contributing the remaining 60% (0.42% of eligible wages).

Employers with fewer than 25 employees must remit an effective contribution rate of 0.46% of eligible wages. This contribution rate is less because small employers are not required to pay the employer share of the medical leave contribution. Small employers are still responsible for collecting and remitting the contributions from the employee’s wages but are under no obligation to contribute themselves.   

Also, effective January 1, 2024, the maximum weekly benefit will be $1,149.90, an increase from $1,129.82. 

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.