Paid Family Medical Leave
Paid family medical leave has become an increasingly important issue in the United States as more and more people are seeking time off from work to care for themselves or a loved one. In recent years, a number of states have taken action to address this issue, and Massachusetts is one of them. In 2018, Massachusetts became the seventh state in the country to offer paid family medical leave, providing workers with a range of benefits to support them when they need it most.
The Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave law (PFML) went into effect on January 1, 2021, and provides eligible workers with up to 26 weeks of paid leave for a range of reasons, including:
- Personal medical leave, to care for an employee’s own serious health condition
- Family medical leave, to care for a family member with a serious health condition
- New child leave, to care for and bond with a new child, whether by birth, adoption or foster care, and
- Military family leave, to care for a covered military service member with a serious injury or illness.
We are often asked, what is a “serious medical condition.” That is one that prevents you from doing your job for mor than three days in a row. It also requires at least on of the following:
- An overnight stay in a medical facility
- 2 or more treatments by a health care provider within 30 days from the day you had to be out of work, or
- 1 treatment within the 30 days, with plans for continued treatment, including and prescriptions
The benefits provided through the Massachusetts PFML program are designed to help workers maintain their financial stability during times of need, and to support them as they care for themselves or their loved ones. The program is funded through payroll contributions from workers, and all eligible employees are automatically enrolled in the program.
If you believe you need Paid Family and Medical Leave, an experienced Boston medical leave lawyer may be able to help, especially with issues navigating issues of eligibility, notice and retaliation. The attorneys at Gordon Law Group, LLP are frequently cited among the best employment lawyers in the nation. Based in Boston, they represent individuals who need medical leave from workplaces across the country and are committed to holding employers accountable for denying that leave or retaliating against employees who ask for help.
PFML v. FMLA
Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFML) and the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are different, although they do cover very similar conditions.
The biggest difference is in benefits. Under FLA, covered employees receive up to 12 weeks of protected leave, but employers are not required to pay employees taking FMLA. In other words, leave under FMLA is unpaid.
To be eligible for PFML, an employee must have earned $5,700 (in 2022) or $6,000 (in 2023) during the last 4 completed calendar quarters and have worked for an employer with at least 50 employees, although employers with fewer than 50 employees may choose to opt into the program.
You Get Paid Benefits While You are Out
One of the key benefits of the Massachusetts PFML program is the level of support it provides to workers who need time off from work. Unlike traditional family and medical leave, which is typically unpaid, the Massachusetts PFML program provides eligible workers with a portion of their regular pay while they are out on leave. This can be a critical source of financial support during a difficult time, and helps to reduce the financial burden that often comes with caring for a loved one.
Eligible employees can receive up to 26 weeks of paid leave (20 weeks of medical leave, 12 weeks of family leave, and no more than 26 weeks of combined family and medical leave) at up to 90% of their average weekly wage, capped at a maximum weekly benefit amount. In 2022, the maximum weekly benefit is $1,084.31. In 2023, it will increase to $1,129.82.
What About Paid Time Off
Many employers offer paid time off, in the form of sic days, vacation days and personal time. You cannot use PTO on the same days as you receive PFML benefits.
You Keep Your Same Job
Another important benefit of the Massachusetts PFML program is the protection it provides to workers who need time off from work. Under the law, eligible workers are entitled to take time off from work for the reasons outlined above, and their job is protected during their absence. This means that when they return to work, they will be able to reclaim their job and continue working as they did before they took leave.
Workplace Posting Requirements
All Massachusetts employers must display a PFML poster, and new employees must receive a notification within 30 days of being hired.
In addition to the benefits outlined above, the Massachusetts PFML program also provides a range of other important protections for workers. For example, the law prohibits employers from retaliating against workers who take leave, and it provides a range of enforcement mechanisms to ensure that workers’ rights are protected. That means, if you take PFML leave, you cannot be fired, disciplined, suspended, demoted or even threatened with any of that.
These anti-retaliation protections start the moment you tell your employer you are taking PFML and last for six months after you return.
Employees are required to provide their employers with at least 30 days’ notice before the start of the leave, or as soon as is practicable if the leave is not foreseeable. Employees must also provide certification from a health care provider to support the need for leave. Employers may also require certification to support the need for leave related to a family member’s serious health condition.
If an employee’s PFML rights are violated, they may be entitled to recover three times their lost wages, as well as attorneys fees, costs and other damages.
Choose a Medical Leave Lawyer
If you believe you need medical leave because of medical concerns for you or a family member, or you’re trying to figure out if you qualify for a program, or if you’ve been retaliated against for speaking up for yourself or a co-worker, you need a knowledgeable Boston medical leave attorney in your corner. Gordon Law Group, LLP is well-versed in the PFML and FMLA and has a track record of success with all types of employment matters related to medical leave discrimination matters for clients in Boston and beyond. The firm represents employees in all industries and at all levels, from service workers to executives. We are among the best employment lawyers around, and we are committed to advocating for employees’ rights. Denying medical leave or retaliating against employees who take it is illegal and should never be tolerated. Holding employers accountable sends a powerful message and can protect other employees from experiencing the same types of issues in the future. If your employer made adverse employment decisions and you believe age was a factor, contact Gordon Law Group, LLP today to schedule a consultation.