Updated Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA)
The final version of regulations for the new Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA) will be released on July 24th. The Department of Family and Medical Leave released an unofficial version this week. Employers and employees have been contributing to the Family and Medical Leave Trust Fund since last October. Benefits will be available beginning January 1, 2021 for up to 12 weeks for the birth, adoption or placement of a child, as well as for qualifying exigencies arising out of a family member’s active duty service, up to 26 weeks to care for a covered servicemember, or up to 20 weeks for the individual’s own serious health condition. Benefits will be available July 1, 2021 for up to 12 weeks for individuals to care for a family member with a serious health condition. Some of the changes in the updated regulations include:
- Substance abuse treatment is now a qualifying reason for medical leave. An employer may not retaliate against an employee for taking leave pursuant to the law, but if an employer policy provides for termination of an employee for substance use, the employee may be terminated for substance use pursuant to that policy.
- Leave is now available for family members who need to take care of a family member who is a member of the armed forces regardless of discharge status. • Employees who use other forms of accrued leave or unpaid leave approved by an employer for a qualifying reason, that runs concurrently with PFML, will be entitled to the job protections of PFMLA.
- The requirement of treatment with a healthcare provider as a qualifying basis for medical leave has been expanded to include telehealth visits.
- An individual with multiple employers is not required to take paid leave from each employer during a single period of medical or family leave, and their weekly benefit amount will not be reduced by wages received through other employment or self-employment.
- The Department has clarified the relationship and coverage afforded employees of employers who switch between a private plan and PFML benefits. Specifically, for leave filed with the Department prior to the employer’s transfer to a private plan, the Department will provide leave payments for the entire duration of the leave. For employers switching from a private plan to PFML benefits, the private plan must provide coverage for the entire duration of leave filed under the private plan. For intermittent leave, the private plan must maintain coverage through the end of the employee’s benefit year. An employer transitioning from one private plan to another must ensure there are no gaps in coverage.