For more than three months now, qualifying Massachusetts employees have been eligible for medical and family leave benefits under the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) Act. As employers build out their PFML compliance programs and receive employees’ PFML applications, many new questions and scenarios continue to arise. This blog post sheds light on some of these practical issues, including insight from the Department itself.
As explained in prior posts, Massachusetts workers facing a health crisis, bonding with a child, or caring for a sick relative may take up to 26 weeks of paid, job-protected leave pursuant to PFML. These benefits are available either through the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (the “Department”), the state agency charged with administering and enforcing the PFML, or through employers’ state-approved private plans.
Since January, the Department has hosted a number of virtual “Town Halls” aimed at answering questions from both employers and employees. In these Town Halls, the Department candidly acknowledged that the state has experienced a high volume of applications, and that workers have faced delays in receiving benefits. Part of the delay was attributed to the failure of some employers to register a “leave administrator” with the Department. Employers who have not already registered a leave administrator are encouraged to do so as soon as possible.
The Department further explained what the application process looks like in practice:
The Department also answered a number of questions from attendees. The following may be of particular interest to employers:
In addition to the questions addressed at the Department’s Town Hall, below are additional FAQs that we are seeing as employers navigate the PFML landscape.