Paid Family Leave Laws

Great news! There are two family leave laws that workers in Massachusetts can take advantage of:

  • Federal Family & Medical Leave (FMLA)
  • MA Paid Family & Medical Leave (PFML)

In general, FMLA and PFML run concurrently if your leave is covered by both laws. 

Federal Family & Medical Leave (FMLA)

FMLA provides leave to care for a:

  • Child (who is under the age of 18 or incapable of self-care due to a physical or mental disability)
  • Spouse
  • Parent (including a biological, adoptive, foster, or step-parent, or any other person who stood "in loco parentis” but not including a parent-in-law)

FMLA eligibility includes:

  • All public employers and private employers who employ 50 or more workers within 75 miles of the employee’s worksite. 
  • ​​Employees must have worked for a covered employer for at least one year and have worked for that employer for at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months. 

FMLA provisions:

Up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees for the following reasons:

  • For incapacity due to pregnancy, prenatal medical care, or childbirth
  • To care for the employee’s child after birth, or placement for adoption or foster care
  • To care for the employee’s spouse, son or daughter, or parent, who has a serious health condition
  • For a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform their job
  • For certain needs in connection with a loved one's military deployment
  • If medically necessary, employees caring for a seriously ill loved one may be able to take this time in smaller chunks, spread out over time, rather than all at once

FMLA Protections:

  • Job and Seniority: Upon return from FMLA leave, nearly all employees must be restored to their original or equivalent positions with equivalent pay, benefits, and other employment terms. Rare exceptions to this rule are explained here
  • Benefits: During FMLA leave, the employer must maintain the employee’s health coverage and continue paying any share of their health insurance premium under any “group health plan” on the same terms as if the employee had continued to work.
  • FMLA rights: An employer can’t punish an employee in any way for using their FMLA rights and can’t interfere with the employees ability to use their rights under the law.

How to apply for FMLA:

  • Notify your employer of your need for leave. You'll need to get your loved one's health care provider to certify their health condition and need for care. Your employer will then provide you with notices and forms to fill out and return to them. 
  • If you know in advance when your leave will start, tell your employer at least 30 days before that date. If you can’t do so or don’t know in advance, tell your employer as soon as possible.

Detailed information about Federal FMLA, visit the US Department of Labor website

But first, check out Massachusetts’ paid leave program below.

MA Family and Medical Leave (PFML)

The state of Massachusetts expands on the Federal FMLA law with:

  • A broader definition of “family member”
  • Eligibility for more residents 
  • Paid leave (PFML)

Massachusetts provides PFML to care for a:

  • Child (of any age, including a biological, adopted or foster child, a stepchild or legal ward, child of the domestic partner, or a child to whom the employee stands or stood “in loco parentis”)
  • Spouse
  • Domestic partner
  • Parent (including a biological, foster, adoptive, or stepparent, or a person who stood “in loco parentis” the employee)
  • Spouse’s or domestic partner’s parent
  • Grandchild
  • Grandparent
  • Sibling (including a biological, adoptive, or step-sibling)

MA PFML eligibility includes:

  • Almost all employees who work for private employers with at least 1 employee and employees of the state;
  • Employees who have earned, at least:some text
    • $6,300 (rounded down to nearest hundred dollars) during the last 4 completed calendar quarters, and
    • 30 times the weekly benefit amount they would be eligible to collect
  • Self-employed workers may opt in to PFML through MassTaxConnect.

MA PFML provisions:

  • Up to 12 weeks to: some text
    • Care for a family member
    • Bond with a child
    • Address the impact of a loved one’s military deployment
  • Up to 20 weeks to manage a personal serious health condition
  • Up to 26 weeks to care for a family member who is seriously ill or injured as a result of their military service

MA PFML Benefit Amount:
The employee’s benefit amount is based on their average weekly wage as follows:

  • 80% of the portion of their income that’s less than 50% of the state average weekly wage plus
  • 50% of the portion of their income that’s above 50% of the state average weekly wage

For 2024, the average weekly wage is $898.36. And the maximum weekly benefit rate is $1,149.90. You can estimate the PFML benefit amount you may be eligible to receive on the MA PFML Benefits Calculator.

MA PFML protections:

  • Job & Seniority: The employer must return the employee to the same or similar position to the one they had prior to taking PFML. Positions are similar when they have similar pay, status, employment benefits, length-of-service credit, and seniority. 
  • Health insurance: If the employer provides health insurance, the employee is entitled to keep their coverage, continuing to pay their share of the health insurance premium during their leave.
  • Other benefits: When the employee returns from PFML, their employer is not allowed to reduce or stop their ability to earn vacation or sick time, seniority, length-of-service credits, bonuses, or any other employment benefits, plans, or programs because they went on leave.
  • PFML rights: The employer can’t punish the employee in any way for using their PFML rights or interfere with their ability to do so.

How to apply for PFML in Massachusetts:

  • Notify your employer about your need to take leave. Your employer may require you to get your loved one's health care provider to certify their health condition and need for care.
  • If you know in advance when your leave will start, tell your employer at least 30 days before that date. If you can’t do so or don’t know in advance, tell your employer as soon as possible. If possible, provide at least 30 days notice before your official start date. 
  • Apply online at

Visit the website for the most current details about Massachusetts family leave policies. 

Note: The state, county, or city where you live may also offer short term (a few days per year) paid sick leave or paid time off that you may be able to use for caregiving. You can find short term leave information for jurisdictions in the state of Massachusetts here.

​​Separately, the state of Massachusetts provides rights to unpaid time off that are limited to pregnancy, recovery from childbirth, or parenting. You can find out more about these rights here. We include this information because one in four Americans is a member of “The Sandwich Generation”—adults who are providing care to aging loved ones while raising children. 

The information on this page should not be considered legal advice. Other protections may apply in your specific situation. 

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