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Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Starts in 2021

Massachusetts will become the next state to mandate paid family and medical leave for its workers, starting Jan. 1, 2021. The governor signed the legislation, H.4640, into law on June 28, 2018.

Here's a quick Q&A to give you an overview of the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave program.

Q. Who will pay to fund the program — employers or employees?
A. The answer is both. Employers and employees will split the cost of a 0.63 percent payroll tax about equally. The exception is employers with fewer than 25 workers. They don't have to pay the payroll tax, but employees will have to contribute their part.

Q. When do payroll deductions begin for this program?
A. Based on information currently available, employers will need to begin withholding from employee payroll July 1, 2019. Employers should hold the money collected in an account specific for this purpose.

Q. Who does the program cover?
A. Almost all employees who qualify for unemployment insurance will be eligible for paid leave. Those who are self-employed can opt into the program. Municipal employers are exempt from the law, but may also opt in if the city or town decides to take part in the program.

Q. What about employers who already offer paid family leave?
A. Employers who already offer paid family and medical leave may be able to opt out. The benefits they offer must meet or exceed the state's program.

Q. How much paid time off can workers take for family and medical leave?
A. Effective Jan. 1, 2021, employees who contribute to the program can take paid leave for:

  • Up to 12 weeks a year to care for a family member or bond with a new child
    • Family member includes: children, spouse, parents, grandchildren, grandparents, domestic partners, and parents-in-law
    • Bonding covers a child newly arrived in the family through birth, adoption, or foster care placement
  • 20 weeks a year to deal with a personal medical issue
  • Up to 26 weeks a year to deal with an emergency related to deployment of a family member for military service

Q. How much pay can employees who are on leave receive?
A. Employees on approved leave will receive a percentage of their weekly wage. The maximum will be $850 per week in 2021. Benefits will be capped at no more than 64 percent of the state's average weekly wage.

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