Important Massachusetts PFML Updates

October 16, 2023 Advisory

Effective Nov. 1, 2023, the Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) law (MGL ch. 175M) will, for the first time, allow employees to use accrued paid leave, such as sick time, vacation time and personal days, to supplement PFML benefits at any time during leave. As a result, employees will be able to use accrued PTO and other employer-provided paid leave to “true up” their PFML benefit payments, rather than forfeiting those payments. The Department of Family and Medical Leave has also announced the new contribution and benefit amounts for 2024. The following summarizes these important updates to the PFML.

Amendment Allows Use of Accrued Paid Leave Concurrently with PFML Benefits

For claims filed prior to Nov. 1, 2023, the PFML scheme restricts employees’ use of vacation and other similar accrued paid leave to the initial seven-calendar-day unpaid waiting period; an employee who uses employer-provided accrued paid leave at any other time during a qualifying absence forfeits PFML benefits during that period, since only pay under an employer’s temporary disability policy or program and its internal paid family or medical leave policy may be used concurrently with receipt of PFML benefits. As a result, employees whose PFML benefit payments are lower than their regular weekly pay have seen a reduction in their wages, since they have not been able to use available paid leave to “true up” their pay during approved leave.

The amendment, which will apply to claims filed on or after Nov. 1, 2023, will help bridge this income gap by allowing employees to use accrued paid leave to supplement their PFML payments. The decision whether to do so continues to rest with the employee—employers may not compel employees to use their accrued paid leave while receiving PFML benefits. Importantly, these changes affect all Massachusetts employers, including both those that pay into the state-administered leave system and those that qualify for an exemption (through either a self-insured or a third-party private plan). Because exemptions are granted only when the private plan provides benefits that are “greater than or equal to those provided” under the PFML, an employer may lose the exemption unless it ensures that its private plan provides the same ability to use accrued paid leave.

New Contribution and Benefits Rates

The Department has also issued its annual updates to the contribution rates administered by employers and the weekly maximum benefit amounts for employees. For 2024, the weekly benefit amount will be capped at $1,144.90, up from $1,129.82 per week in 2023. In addition, the employer contribution rate will increase from 0.63% to 0.88% of eligible wages (up to a specified cap) for employers with 25 or more covered individuals, and from 0.318% to 0.46% for smaller employers. Detailed information regarding how the 2024 contribution rate is divided between family versus medical leave and between employer versus employee is available at the Department’s website. Updated employee notice documents, however, are not yet available from the Department.

Employer Considerations

Employers should promptly review their policies and procedures to ensure they are prepared for the Nov. 1 change in the treatment of accrued paid leave usage and should stay tuned for guidance from the Department. In addition, employers should ensure they are ready to implement the new contribution rates and plan to comply with the employee notice requirement prior to Jan. 1 by issuing updated PFML contribution rate information to employees once the Department publishes updated notice documents.

If you have any questions regarding the changes to the PFML, please reach out to your regular Armstrong Teasdale lawyer or one of the authors.

Contact Us
  • Worldwide
  • Boston, MA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Denver, CO
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Edwardsville, IL
  • Jefferson City, MO
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • London, England
  • Miami, FL
  • New York, NY
  • Orange County, CA
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Princeton, NJ
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Wilmington, DE
abstract image of world map
Boston, MA
800 Boylston St.
30th Floor
Boston, MA 02199
Google Maps
Boston, Massachusetts
Chicago, IL
100 North Riverside Plaza
Suite 1500
Chicago, IL 60606-1520
Google Maps
Chicago, Illinois
Denver, CO
4643 S. Ulster St.
Suite 800
Denver, CO 80237
Google Maps
Denver, Colorado
Dublin, Ireland
Fitzwilliam Hall, Fitzwilliam Place
Dublin 2, Ireland
Google Maps
Edwardsville, IL
115 N. Second St.
Edwardsville, IL 62025
Google Maps
Edwardsville, Illinois
Jefferson City, MO
101 E. High St.
First Floor
Jefferson City, MO 65101
Google Maps
Jefferson City, Missouri
Kansas City, MO
2345 Grand Blvd.
Suite 1500
Kansas City, MO 64108
Google Maps
Kansas City, Missouri
Las Vegas, NV
7160 Rafael Rivera Way
Suite 320
Las Vegas, NV 89113
Google Maps
Las Vegas, Nevada
London, England
Royal College of Surgeons of England
38-43 Lincoln’s Inn Fields
London, WC2A 3PE
Google Maps
Miami, FL
355 Alhambra Circle
Suite 1200
Coral Gables, FL 33134
Google Maps
Photo of Miami, Florida
New York, NY
7 Times Square, 44th Floor
New York, NY 10036
Google Maps
New York City skyline
Orange County, CA
19800 MacArthur Boulevard
Suite 300
Irvine, CA 92612
Google Maps
Philadelphia, PA
2005 Market Street
29th Floor, One Commerce Square
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Google Maps
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Princeton, NJ
100 Overlook Center
Second Floor
Princeton, NJ 08540
Google Maps
Princeton, New Jersey
Salt Lake City, UT
222 South Main St.
Suite 1830
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Google Maps
Salt Lake City, Utah
St. Louis, MO
7700 Forsyth Blvd.
Suite 1800
St. Louis, MO 63105
Google Maps
St. Louis, Missouri
Washington, D.C.
1717 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 400
Washington, DC 20006
Google Maps
Photo of Washington, D.C. with the Capitol in the foreground and Washington Monument in the background.
Wilmington, DE
1007 North Market Street
Wilmington, DE 19801
Google Maps
Wilmington, Delaware