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November 2, 2023

Changes to the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Program

Massachusetts recently announced changes to its Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program, which will impact employers with Massachusetts employees. 

The PFML program provides employees with paid time off from work for qualifying family and medical reasons. The program is funded by both employer and employee contributions, and employers may opt-out of the state program administered by the Department of Paid Family and Medical Leave by administering PFML benefits through an approved private plan that meets or exceeds the requirements of the state plan. 

Changes to the PFML “Top Off” Policy

Prior to the amendment, PFML benefits provided by the state plan could not be supplemented or “topped off” by an employee’s accrued paid leave from their employer to bridge the gap between the employee’s PFML pay and their regular earnings. However, PFML benefits provided by an approved private plan could be supplemented by other accrued employer paid leave, such as sick leave, vacation, PTO, and personal time.  

As of November 1, 2023, all employees filing PFML applications will have the right to decide whether to utilize their accrued paid leave to supplement their PFML benefits.1 Employers are now required to offer this option irrespective of whether the benefits are provided through the state plan or a private plan. Employers are required to monitor an employee’s combined weekly sum of employer paid leave benefits and PFML benefits to ensure that they do not exceed the employee’s individual average weekly wage (IAWW). The weekly PFML benefit rate and IAWW will be provided by the Department of Paid Family and Medical Leave on its approval notices to employers. Guidance on the amendment states that the department is not responsible for managing any overage payments and is not involved in the repayment process for top-off overages, which is solely the responsibility of the employer and employee.

Changes to the Weekly Benefit Amount and Contribution Rates 

The 2024 PFML weekly benefit rate will increase to $1,149.90 from the 2023 rate of $1,129.82.

PFML contribution rates will also increase in 2024. The 2024 contribution rate for employers with 25 or more employees will increase to .88 percent (up from .63 percent) of an employee’s wages, and .46 percent (up from .318 percent) for employers with less than 25 employees. 

Next Steps

Employers should familiarize themselves with these changes and update their leave policies to notify employees of the option to utilize employer accrued paid leave to supplement their PFML benefits. Employers should also check the PFML website for the latest 2024 posters and notices that must be disseminated to employees, including the new rate sheet that needs to be distributed to employees on or before December 2, 2023.

If you have any questions regarding the content of this alert, please contact Carolyn Marcotte Crowley, partner, at; Martine Wayne, associate, at; or another member of the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice Area.

1Employees applying for PFML benefits on or after November 1, 2023 for retroactive benefits are also entitled to choose an accrued employer paid leave top off.

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