Effective January 1, 2023, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) rolled out important updates to the Massachusetts Family and Medical Leave (PFML) law.

Employers should be mindful of updates to contribution rates and weekly benefits amounts, and should promptly roll out updated notices and workplace posters.

Background

The Massachusetts PFML law provides covered individuals with paid family and medical leave as follows:

  • Up to 20 weeks of paid medical leave in a benefit year if they have a serious health condition that incapacitates them from work.
  • Up to 12 weeks of paid family leave in a benefit year related to the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child, to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or because of a qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that a family member is on active duty or has been notified of an impending call to active duty in the Armed Forces.
  • Up to 26 weeks of paid family leave in a benefit year to care for a family member who is a covered service member with a serious health condition.

Covered individuals are eligible for no more than 26 total weeks of paid family and medical leave in a single benefit year. To fund PFML benefits, employers may deduct certain payroll contributions from a covered individual's wages or other earnings. A covered individual's average weekly earnings will determine their benefit amount, and weekly benefits are capped by the DFML, as described below in more detail.

Minimum Earnings Eligibility

Employees who have earned at least $6,000 over the past four (4) calendar quarters will be eligible to receive PFML benefits. This amount has increased from $5,700 in 2022.

Decreased Contribution Rates

Effective January 1, 2023, contribution rates have decreased for employers of all sizes. For employers with fewer than 25 covered individuals, the contribution rate decreased from 0.344% of eligible wages to 0.318%. Employers with fewer than 25 covered individuals may withhold the entire contribution from an individual's eligible wages.

The contribution rate for larger employers (those with more than 25 covered individuals) decreased from 0.68% of eligible wages to 0.63%. These larger employers are permitted to withhold up to 0.11% of eligible wages for an individual's family leave contribution and up to 0.208% of eligible wages for an employee's medical leave contribution. Employers are required to contribute the remaining 0.312% of eligible wages on behalf of an employee for medical leave.

Increased Weekly Benefit Amount

Eligible employees may receive PFML benefits commensurate with their weekly earnings. In 2023, the maximum weekly benefit rate for covered employees is $1,129.82. This rate has increased from $1,084.31 in 2022.

Required Notices

Massachusetts law requires employers to notify new and existing employees of the 2023 updates to contribution rates and weekly benefit amounts under the PFML law and display an updated 2023 PFML law poster in the workplace. To that end, the DFML has released an updated poster and template notice forms for distribution. The poster and notice forms can be found on the DFML website.

Massachusetts employers should review their PFML policies and payroll systems to ensure that these changes are implemented. We will continue to monitor updates to the PFML law and other comparable state and federal laws.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.