What is PFML?

PFML stands for Paid Family Medical Leave. It’s a state-offered benefit for anyone who works in Massachusetts and is eligible to take up to 26 weeks of paid leave for medical or family reasons. PFML is funded through a Massachusetts tax, and is separate from both the federally mandated benefits offered by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and from leave benefits that may be offered by your employer. 

Employers are responsible for remitting family and medical leave contributions to the Department of Family and Medical Leave on behalf of their covered individuals. Larger employers with 25 or more covered individuals are responsible for paying a share of the required contributions. Employers with fewer than 25 covered individuals are not required to pay the employer’s share of contributions but must still remit payment on behalf of their covered individuals.

The charts below offer a general breakdown of these contribution rates while the contribution calculator allows you to better estimate how this will look for you and your Massachusetts workforce.

Individual contributions are capped by the Social Security income limit, which is currently set at $132,900. The 2019 PFML income limit is calculated on wages or payments made to covered individuals from Oct. 1 – Dec. 31, 2019.

Employers may deduct varying contribution percentages from their covered individuals as long as they don’t exceed the maximum percentages listed below. For example:

  • An employer with employees covered by multiple collective bargaining agreements can vary the amounts it withholds from employees in each of those bargaining units
  • An employer can withhold varying amounts among full-time and part-time staff

Employers are advised to consult with their legal counsel as to the advisability of implementing different percentages within their own organization.

Contribution rate split for employers with 25 or more covered individuals

Employers with 25 or more covered individuals will be required to remit a contribution to the Department of Family and Medical Leave of 0.75% of eligible wages. This contribution can be split between covered individuals’ payroll or wage withholdings and an employer contribution.

Family leave

Up to 100% of the family leave contribution can be withheld from a covered individual’s wages (0.13% of eligible wages).

Medical leave

Up to 40% of the medical leave contribution can be withheld from a covered individual’s wages (0.248% of eligible wages). Employers are responsible for contributing the remaining 60% (0.372% of eligible wages). 

Contribution rate split for employers with fewer than 25 covered individuals

Employers with fewer than 25 covered individuals must remit an effective contribution rate of 0.378% of eligible wages. This contribution rate is less because small employers are not required to pay the employer share of the medical leave contribution, reducing the total contribution amount.

Small employers are responsible for remitting the funds withheld from covered individuals’ earnings but are under no obligation to contribute themselves. However, they may elect to cover some or all of the covered individuals’ share.

Family leave

Up to 100% of the family leave contribution can be withheld from a covered individual’s wages (0.13% of eligible wages).

Medical leave

Up to 100% of the medical leave contribution can be withheld from a covered individual’s wages (0.248% of eligible wages). There is no employer share for employers with fewer than 25 covered individuals.

Who’s covered by PFML?

PFML is available to covered individuals who work in Massachusetts. Covered individuals include: 

  • W-2 workers who work in Massachusetts, whether they are full-time, part-time, or seasonal
  • Self-employed individuals
  • 1099-MISC workers who work in Massachusetts, do not qualify as independent contractors, and who make up more than 50% of their employer’s workforce

To know if you are covered, it’s best to talk to your employer. If you are an employer, learn who is a covered individual and how to calculate your workforce and contributions from your tax advisor.  

How does PFML work and how much does it cost?

PFML is a tax of no greater than 0.75% of your eligible wages paid by you and, potentially, your employer. The amount will vary depending on how much is being contributed by each party. 

The maximum amount that could come out of your paycheck is $0.38 per $100.00. 

Can I opt out?

  • If you are a covered individual, you cannot opt out.
  • If you are an employer, you can apply for an exemption from collecting, remitting, and paying PFML contributions. However, your plan must have benefits greater than or equal to the benefits provided by the PFML law, as well as the same rights and protections.

When can I use PFML?

PFML benefits will become available on January 1, 2021.

Paid family leave may be taken to:

  • Care for a sick family member
  • Bond with a newborn child
  • Bond with a child after adoption or foster care placement
  • Manage family affairs when a family member is on active duty in the armed forces

Paid medical leave may be taken to:

  • Manage a personal serious injury or illness

What do I need to do?

If you’re a worker, talk to your employer to find out if you are covered. If you are, the tax went into effect on October 1st, 2019. 

If you are self-employed, you should learn about your options and decide if you want to opt into PFML. 

If you’re an employer, determine what your contributions will be, what kind of reporting you’ll need to do, and how to do these things, as well as the other requirements and preparations you need to make

How is PFML different from FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act)?

The FMLA is a federal law that provides unpaid, job-protected leave to certain employees. FMLA is available for the employee to use for themselves or when caring for a parent, child or spouse with a serious health condition and is only a requirement for employers with 50 or more employees

PFML is a Massachusetts law that applies to all Massachusetts employers regardless of size and provides paid, job-protected leave to eligible workers for similar reasons. Other differences include a broader definition of family, waiting periods for eligibility, and size of the employers that are required to participate. 

Benefit amount details

The amount of benefits an eligible employee can receive for PFML is based on their own average weekly wage when they apply for leave, and the average weekly wage for workers throughout Massachusetts.

  • The part of the average weekly wage that is less than or equal to 50% of the average weekly wage for Commonwealth workers will be covered at a rate of 80%
  • If part of the average weekly wage is greater than 50% of the average weekly wage for Commonwealth workers, it will be covered at a rate of 50%, up to the maximum allowed benefit amount

The average weekly wage in Massachusetts in 2019 was $1,431.66. Fifty percent of $1,431.66 is $715.83.

Currently, any amount of an eligible employees’ weekly wage that is less than or equal to $715.83 will be replaced at a rate of 80%. Any part of the average weekly wage that is greater than $715.83 will be replaced at a rate of 50%, up to the maximum allowed benefit amount.

The maximum total amount that an eligible employee can receive in PFML benefits right now is $850 per week.

The average weekly wage in Massachusetts is reevaluated each October. The Commonwealth will use that new average weekly wage to calculate PFML benefit amounts, which will start on January 1 of the next year.

If you have any questions, please fill out the “Contact Us” form on our website or call (800) 508 – 0048 and ask to speak to our Risk Management Department.

Learn more at Mass.gov

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