United States: Client Alert: Paid Family And Medical Leave Comes To Massachusetts

Last Updated: November 9 2018
Article by Bowditch Attorneys

Adding the Commonwealth to the small-but-expanding list of states providing employees with paid leave benefits, Massachusetts enacted legislation this past summer (Acts 2018, ch. 121, the “Act”) to create a new state-administered Paid Family and Medical Leave program (the “Program”) that will affect Massachusetts employers of all sizes, with very few apparent exceptions. This marks a substantial change in the law; currently, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act applies only to employers of 50 or more employees and provides for periods of unpaid leave under certain circumstances. Beginning in January 2021, however, the Program will provide eligible employees with benefits during defined periods of either "medical" or "family" leave.

The relevant sections of the Act (which will appear as chapter 175M of the Massachusetts General Laws) establish only the basic framework of the Program. A new state agency, the Department of Family and Medical Leave (the “Department"), to be located within the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, will develop the details of implementation through regulations, which are to be published and circulated for public comment and hearing no later than March 31, 2019.

In the meantime, employers should familiarize themselves with the major features of the Program described in M.G.L. c.175M, which are summarized below.

Family and Medical Leave for Covered Individuals

The Program provides employees with job-protected, paid leave for up to 12 weeks per year to care for a family member with a serious health condition or bond with a new child (family leave), up to 20 weeks a year to deal with the individual's own serious health condition (medical leave), and up to 26 weeks to deal with an emergency related to deployment of a family member for military service (family leave). The maximum amount of combined family and medical leave that any covered individual may take under the Program per benefit year is 26 weeks, and the Act permits the leave to be taken on an intermittent or reduced schedule basis, unless it is a family leave taken for the purpose of bonding with a child. Any leave taken under the Act runs concurrently with any leave available under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 or previously enacted Massachusetts law.

New Payroll Tax

The Act creates a new state trust fund, the Family and Employment Security Trust Fund (the “Trust") to finance the paid leave benefits available to employees. Funded through a payroll tax, the Act establishes an initial contribution rate of 0.63% of each employee's wages (amount to be adjusted annually), up to the maximum wage base tied to the federal Social Security Administration's annually-calculated contribution and benefit base (for 2018, the SSA wage base is $128,400, meaning that the per-employee contribution cap under the Program would be $808.92). Employers must remit the entire amount of the contribution to the Trust in the first instance, though employers with less than 25 employees are required only to remit the deductions from employees' wages and will not be required to pay an employer-share contribution. Collection of contributions will begin on July 1, 2019, in accordance with the Department's final regulations.

The Program is a State-Administered Wage Replacement Scheme

Similar to the system governing unemployment benefits in Massachusetts, the Program's primary function will be realized through interactions between the Department and the individual employee seeking benefits, but employers have a critical role to play by making contributions to fund the Trust and by providing information requested by the Department (and in some cases, raising challenges) during the claims process. Weekly benefit amounts for an employee on leave will be calculated as a percentage of the employee's average weekly wage–using the same formula applied in the unemployment benefit context–with a maximum weekly benefit of $850 (to be adjusted in October of each year to reflect an amount that is 64 percent of the state average weekly wage). Benefits will not be provided during the first seven days of leave, during which time the employee may, but cannot be compelled to, use accrued sick or vacation time. No benefits may be distributed under the Act until January of 2021.

Notice Requirements

Employers will be required to display notice of rights under the Act in the workplace and also to provide written notice to each employee (or independent contractor) within 30 days of hire or engagement, the delivery of which is to be confirmed by written acknowledgment. Unless the employer fails to observe these requirements, employees and other covered individuals must provide at least 30 days' notice of the anticipated start date, length, and end date of the leave, or, if for reasons beyond the employee's control, 30 days' notice cannot be provided, the employee must provide notice as soon as practicable.

Anti-Retaliation and Other Leave Protections

Upon return from leave, an employee has the right to be restored to his or her previous position, with the same status, pay, employment benefits, length-of-service credit and seniority as of the date of leave. During leave, the employer must continue to provide for and contribute to the employee's health insurance and other employment-related benefits, if any, at the level and on the same conditions as if the employee were working continuously throughout the leave period. The Act also provides robust anti-retaliation protection for covered individuals by imposing a presumption of retaliation upon the occurrence of "any negative change in the seniority, status, employment benefits, pay or other terms or conditions of employment of an employee" during or within six months after return from leave. This presumption may only be rebutted upon a showing of clear and convincing evidence that the conduct was not retaliatory, and a finding of retaliation entitles the employee to triple damages and attorney fees under the Act.

Private Plan Option

There is also an option for employers to "opt out" of the Program and instead meet their obligations under the Act by implementing a private plan conferring all of the same rights, protections and benefits to employees as the state-administered Program. Any such plan is subject to Department approval.

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions