The Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave law (PFML) provides weekly benefits to cover a portion of an employee’s regular earnings while on medical or family leave. A recent legislative amendment will make the PFML benefit substantially more attractive for many employees. They will now be allowed to use available paid time off (PTO), such as vacation or sick time, to cover the deficit between the PFML amount and their regular earnings. The change removes any financial disincentive to applying for PFML benefits.
The amendment goes into effect on November 1, 2023. It covers all applications to the Massachusetts Department of Paid Family and Medical Leave (the Department) for PFML benefits on or after that date, regardless of the date that the leave commenced. Employers are responsible for ensuring that any PTO supplementation, when combined with the PFML weekly benefit from the Department, does not exceed an employee’s “Individual Average Weekly Wage.” Fortunately for employers, they will not need to calculate these amounts, because the Department includes this information in its approval notices. Employers should make sure that they have registered with the Department to obtain access to this information.
The new law primarily affects employers who provide benefits through the Department. Different rules apply to employers who provide benefits through private plans. These employers already had the ability to allow employees to supplement the PFML benefit with PTO. Under the amendment, they are required to offer this option.
Employers should update their leave policies to explain to employees that they have the option of using PTO to supplement their PFML benefits. Employers will also need to revise their forms and procedures to put this change into effect.
For questions about the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave law, please reach out to Laurie F. Rubin (firstname.lastname@example.org), Daniel S. Tarlow (email@example.com), or other members of Prince Lobel’s Employment Law Practice Group.