United States: Massachusetts Paid Family Leave Law: What Employers Need To Know Now

Last Updated: February 28 2019
Article by Emma Follansbee

Last month, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (the "Department"), issued answers to a handful of frequently asked questions for both employers and employees, and published draft regulations for the implementation of Massachusetts Paid Family Leave ("MAPFL"). The Department is holding a number of listening sessions across the Commonwealth to solicit comments on the proposed regulations. By March 29, 2019, the regulations will be published for public comment and the final regulations are scheduled to be released by July 1, 2019. Although the benefits under this new law are not available to employees until 2021, employers' obligations begin in just a few months. This post delves into some of the key guidance issued by the Department thus far and explores some of the open questions posed at the first listening session in Boston on January 30, 2019.

As a quick reminder, MAPFL will provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of paid family leave and up to 20 weeks of paid medical leave, for a maximum of 26 weeks in a single benefit year. To be eligible, employees must meet the financial eligibility requirements for receiving unemployment compensation under Massachusetts state law (i.e., earned 30 times the weekly unemployment benefit amount the employee would be eligible to receive and earned at least $4,700 during the last four calendar quarters). The weekly benefit amount will be equal to the portion of the employee's average weekly wage that is less than or equal to 50% of the state average weekly wage replaced at a rate of 80%, plus the portion of the employee's average weekly wage that is more than 50% of the state weekly wage replaced at a rate of 50%. The weekly benefit amount will be calculated and paid out by the Department, but the maximum benefit amount will be $850.00 per week (adjusted annually). The state leave will be funded through a payroll tax of 0.63% (adjusted annually) split between employers and employees, depending on the size of the employer and the type of leave taken. For a detailed overview of MAPFL, please see our blog post here.

Key Takeaways from the Department FAQs and Draft Regulations

Both the FAQs and draft regulations provide helpful clarification on MAPFL's key provisions (M.G.L. c. 175M). Note that the regulations are still subject to further change and clarification.

  • Who does MAPFL apply to? All businesses with more than one employee are required to comply with MAPFL, but self-employed individuals are not. Self-employed individuals are allowed to opt into MAPFL. Employers with fewer than 25 employees are not required to pay the employer portion of premiums for family and medical leave. Note that businesses with fewer than 25 employees, though exempt from the contributions, will still be required to comply with MAPFL reporting guidelines and quarterly submission reports (discussed in greater detail below).
  • How is the .63% contribution rate allocated between family and medical leave? The payroll tax of 0.63% that will fund MAPFL program will apply to the first $128,400 of an employee's annual earnings. The apportionment of the 0.63% tax allocated towards family leave or medical leave will be determined annually by the Department – based on projected benefit costs for each benefit year – and the following year's contribution rate will be set no later than October 1 of the current year. The first year's allocation between family and medical leave has been posted on the Department's website and summarized as follows: of the total 0.63% payroll tax, 0.52% of payroll deductions will be allocated towards medical leave and 0.11% of payroll deductions will be allocated towards family leave contributions. Recall that employers with more than 25 employees will be required to cover 60% of the employer's share of medical leave, while employers with less than 25 employees will not.
  • Reporting and Calculating Contributions: Beginning on July 1, 2019, each calendar quarter, employers (and self-employed individuals opting into coverage) will be required to file an earnings report and remit contributions through the Department of Revenue's MassTax Connect system. The report must provide the name, social security number, wages or any other earnings of all employees and independent contractors. To emphasize, employers must provide this information for any independent contractors as well. The report must include the federal employer identification number of the employer and identification number that any employer or self-employed individual is required to include on a withholding tax return filed with the state. Based on the information provided, the Department will calculate the total quarterly contribution amount owed, which must be remitted to the Department within 30 days after the end of the calendar quarter.
    • For purposes of tallying an employee workforce, an employer must include all full-time, part-time, seasonal and temporary employees and independent contractors during each payroll period, divided by the number of payroll periods in the previous calendar year.
  • Exemptions: Employers that offer a private leave plan with the same or greater benefits provided under MAPFL can apply for an exemption from the program on an annual basis. Exemptions will be accepted by the Department on a rolling basis, will be effective for one year, and may be renewed annually. Employers can apply for exemptions from medical leave coverage, family leave coverage, or both. Notably, the Department can audit any private plan maintained by an employer and can withdraw approval when the terms or conditions of a private plan have been changed or violated. Before any proposed changes to a private plan are made, the employer must notify the Department in writing at least 30 days in advance. Employees that are denied rights under a private plan have the right to appeal the denial to the Department or to a Massachusetts District Court.
  • Employee Claims: Employees must file a claim for benefits with the Department using the Department's approved forms. The forms have not yet been issued by the Department. Employees must also provide employers with at least 30 days' notice of the anticipated start date of leave, the anticipated length of leave, the type of leave and the anticipated return date. The Department must notify the employer within five business days after an employee has filed a claim, and provide relevant information or records regarding the claim. However, the individual filing a claim must provide the Department with consent to share information with the employer. All MAPFL benefits require a minimum level of certification supporting the need for leave. Within 14 days of receiving a claim for benefits, the Department will notify the employee of their eligibility for leave, and will begin payment of leave benefits, at the earliest, 14 days after the eligibility determination, unless the eligibility determination is made more than 14 days before the onset of eligibility, in which case leave benefits will begin on the date of eligibility.

Unanswered Questions:

The Department held the first listening session on January 30, 2019, giving constituents and practitioners a chance to seek clarification of the draft regulations. We attended the session, and noted a reoccurring theme of questions related to the actual implementation of MAPFL program. For example:

  • Are employers required to make the first contribution on July 1, 2019, or submit the first quarterly report on July 1, 2019, wait for the Department's calculation, and make the first contribution within 30 days after the end of the calendar quarter?
  • If employer contributions begin on July 1, 2019, can employers apply for exemptions in advance of July 1, 2019 to avoid payments? If so, does the Department plan to clarify how to apply for an exemption based on a private plan in advance of July 1, 2019?
  • Are employers with less than 25 employees required to pay the entire contribution sum on behalf of employees and later deduct the full percentage from employees?
  • How should employers charge an employee for health insurance costs during their leave, when paid benefits are coming directly from the Department?
  • Can MAPFL benefits be reduced by payments received under a private employer's short-term disability policy?
  • How is MAPFL intended to intersect with other leave law entitlements, such as the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)? Does use of MAPFL curtail an employee's rights to FMLA leave later in the same benefit year if the employee was not previously eligible for FMLA?
  • When do employer notice requirements go into effect? Previous versions of the law indicated that employers must provide notice of MAPFL leave benefits by July 1, 2019, despite employees not being eligible until 2021.

The Department representatives did not answer these questions, but rather took all questions under advisement.

Planning Ahead:

Though the regulations are not yet final and many issues require further clarity from the Department, employers can begin preparing for the commencement of contributions on July 1, 2019 by following these steps:

January – March 2019

Now is the time to connect with counsel and ask questions about the draft regulations and how they affect your business. Employers should continue to keep an eye out for updates on any changes or clarifications in the regulations between now and the publication of the revised regulations on March 31, 2019, and again for any changes prior to July 1, 2019. Employers should also continue to look for forms on the Department's website, including a notice of benefits in required languages, forms to apply for private plan exemptions, and employee forms to apply for MAPFL.

March 2019 – July 2019

In the coming months, employers should begin to prepare the following:

  • Setting up a MassTax Connect account: All earnings reports and contributions will be made through the MassTax Connect system. Employers or self-employed individuals opting into MAPFL that do not have a preexisting account should register and establish an account before the July 1, 2019 deadline. Follow this link to set up an account. The Department of Revenue's tutorial on how to set up a MassTax Connect account is available here.
  • Employer Notices: Though the notice requirements seem to be in flux, employers should continue to monitor the Department's website for publications or connect with counsel on the availability of the notice poster prior to July 1, 2019.
  • Budgeting: Employer contributions will begin on July 1, 2019, however employee eligibility and contributions will not begin until January 1, 2021. Employers should therefore be using the workforce headcounts and the 0.63% contribution rate (i.e., $6.30 for every $1,000 an employee makes, up through the first $128,400 of the employee's annual earnings) to budget full payment contributions for 2019 and 2020. Employees should be tallying their workforce headcounts in the prior calendar year (i.e., 2018), to calculate an estimated contribution amount.

July 2019 – January 2021

Over the next year and a half, employers should continue to keep tallies of their workforce and track their quarterly MAPFL contributions for budgeting purposes. Depending on a number of factors including the size and distribution of the employer's workforce, employers can consider instituting a private plan for either family leave, medical leave or both – and assess the benefits and risks of applying for an exemption to MAPFL. Employers should also check in with counsel by October 1, 2019 and 2020 to determine whether the contribution rate has been adjusted by the Department. As the 2021 eligibility date approaches, employers should begin to examine their current policies to ensure leave entitlements such as parental leave or FMLA (if applicable) are revised to account for leave taken under MAPFL. Leave taken under MAPFL will run concurrently with Massachusetts Unpaid Parental Leave and the FMLA.

Stay tuned for future updates on the Department's regulations and guidance on implementation of MAPFL.

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