Massachusetts Updates its Paid Family and Medical Leave Guidance for 2024
The Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) has issued guidance for employers who wish to implement both the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) as well as a private paid leave plan. This update provides important information on how state and private leaves interact.
When Massachusetts PFML was first introduced, employees could not receive paid leave under a private plan if they were receiving wage replacement benefits under Massachusetts PFML (aside from the 7-day waiting period where employees could not receive PFML benefits). However, an update implemented soon after release of the law allowed employees to “top-up” their payments received under PFML wage replacement with benefits from a private employer leave policy. An employee may receive up to 100% of their average weekly wage by combining these two sources of income. The average weekly wage took into consideration all earnings made by the employee (bonuses, commissions, etc.), not just salary.
This most recent update provides relief for employers whose employees do not have a stable source of income or whose average weekly wage may not be an accurate portrayal of their actual earnings. It allows employers to structure their PTO policies to preclude “top-ups” or to regulate the amount of topping-up an employee is allowed to do. This provides employers a degree of stability in payment responsibilities that the “average weekly wage” may not have provided.
Because employers now have more control over how private leave is used in conjunction with PFML, leave policies should be amended to clearly communicate to employees the upper limit on top-ups. The law also makes specific mention of discrimination against employees for PFML use, so employers should ensure that their paid leave policies do not hinder or restrict an employee from fully enjoying the benefits of the state’s PFML.
You can read the entire updated FAQ HERE.