Massachusetts Joins the List of States Providing Employees with Paid Family and Medical Leave

On June 28th, the Governor of Massachusetts signed into law a bill that provides paid, job protected family and medical leave, joining a handful of other states offering such benefits.  The paid family and medical leave component was part of an overall bill that raised the state’s hourly minimum wage and institutes a sales tax holiday one weekend each year in August, among other things.

Pay benefits will be paid from a newly-established fund by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts funded by employee and employer contributions or an employer’s private plan that offers equal or greater benefits. Alternatively, an employer can provide benefits through a combination of offering a private plan for medical leave benefits and state-funded benefits for family leave, or vice-versa. Payroll contributions begin July 2019 and paid leave benefits begin January 2021. The law covers all employers with workers in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and employees are entitled to benefits without regard to length of service or hours worked for an employer.

Beginning in 2021, employees can receive the following:

Family Leave Entitlement:

  • 12 weeks of job protected paid leave for the following leave reasons:
    • Child bonding upon the birth of a newborn or placement of an adopted or foster child;
    • Care for a family member with a serious health condition; or
    • Family member military exigency
  • 26 weeks of job protected paid leave to care for a covered military service member

Medical Leave Entitlement:

  • 20 weeks of job protected paid leave for the employee’s own serious health condition.

Pay Benefits: After a 7-day waiting period, employees will receive 80% of their wages up to 50% of the state average weekly wage, and then 50% of their wages above that amount, subject to a weekly cap, currently set at $850.

Employees cannot take more than 26 combined weeks of paid family and medical leave in a single year. An employee can use accrued sick or vacation pay or other employer-provided paid leave during the first 7 calendar day waiting period, but the absence will remain job protected.

Leave entitlement under the new law will run concurrently with unpaid, job-protected leave offered by the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Massachusetts Parental Leave Law, when applicable.

At FINEOS, we believe state-mandated paid family leave will continue to proliferate as Massachusetts will soon be followed by other states, such as Hawaii, Connecticut, or Colorado.  Employers and the insurers that service them will need to provide paid and unpaid leaves in an efficient, automated manner to remain compliant with overlapping federal, state, and local laws. FINEOS Absence is designed to handle the intersection of job protected leave entitlement with pay benefits in a single claim case, making FINEOS uniquely suited to integrated disability and absence management (IDAM) in the changing US market.

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