Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave: In Effect Jan. 1, 2021

By Kris Janisch
Published Dec. 17, 2020

Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave 2021

Benefits under the paid family and medical leave law in Massachusetts will become available at the start of 2021.

Paid family and medical leave in Massachusetts takes effect Jan. 1, 2021, when most benefits become available.

The law applies to all employers in Massachusetts and allows eligible employees to take up to 26 weeks of paid leave for family and medical reasons.

Below, we will examine some of the basics of Massachusetts’ paid family and medical leave (PFML) law. Read our previous blog for more details. The PFML law does require a labor law posting.

Paid Leave Glossary

Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave

While paid family and medical leave in Massachusetts applies to all employers, eligible employees include:

  • W-2 workers who work in Massachusetts; full-time, part-time, or seasonal
  • Self-employed individuals
  • 1099-MISC workers who work in Massachusetts but do not qualify as independent contractors and who make up more than 50 percent of their employer’s workforce

Also, there is a waiting period for employees to use PFML in Massachusetts. The first seven calendar days of leave is unpaid, though employees may use accrued sick or vacation pay during those days.

The leave is job-protected from the first day of the seven-day waiting period. The measure is funded through a tax on employees and employers with 25 or more workers.


As is often the case with PFML laws, calculating benefits is complicated in Massachusetts.

The maximum weekly benefit shall not be more than $850 per week, adjusted annually by Oct. 1 to 64 percent of the state average weekly wage to take effect Jan. 1 following the adjustment. The weekly benefit amount shall be calculated as follows:

The portion of the covered individual’s average weekly wage that is equal to or less than 50 percent of the state average weekly wage shall be replaced at a rate of 80 percent

The portion of the covered individual’s average weekly wage that is more than 50 percent of the state average weekly wage shall be replaced at a rate of 50 percent

An employer contributions calculator is also available.

Reasons for Use

Eligible reasons for use for PFLM in Massachusetts include:

  • Bonding with new child – birth, adoption or foster
  • Care for family member with a serious health condition
  • Care for the employee’s own disability (including pregnancy)
  • Qualifying exigency due to family member on active duty (impending call or order to active duty)
  • Care for family member who is a covered service member

Eligible Family Members

Should an employee use PFML to care for a family member, Massachusetts defines that as:

  • Child (no age limit)
  • Parent
  • Spouse
  • Domestic partner
  • Grandparent
  • Grandchild
  • Family Matters Infographic Covered RelationsSibling
  • Parents-in-law

Paid Leave Laws Nationwide

Massachusetts is one of an increasing number of jurisdictions with a paid leave law on the books.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put an additional emphasis on the need for paid leave, and many places with existing paid leave laws have made updates in response to the coronavirus. As people across the country deal with its impacts, attention from lawmakers regarding the need for paid leave legislation could continue to rise.

Each of these laws have their own nuances and intricacies, further complicating processes for companies with employees spread across the U.S.

Lastly, for employers with locations in New England, a unique paid leave law in Maine also goes into effect Jan. 1, 2021.

Paid Leave Management. Simplified.


Employers with locations in Massachusetts should review their leave policies to ensure they align with the state’s PFML.

State officials have put out a resources page to help employers navigate the new law.

Jan. 1 always brings new employments laws for companies to monitor. From minimum wage rates to paid leave and more, the new year is a good time to review compliance procedures and practices.

This Employment Law News blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.

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