Employee Benefits Blog

Paid Family and Medical Leave Benefit “Top Off” for Massachusetts Employees Begins November 1, 2023

10/27/2023 Written by: AP Compliance Team

The Massachusetts legislature recently amended the state Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) law to allow employees to supplement (aka “top off”) the weekly PFML benefit that an employee receives with any accrued paid leave, i.e., PTO, vacation, or sick time provided under their employer’s policy, so long as the entire amount does not exceed the state calculated Individual Average Weekly Wage (IAWW) for the employee.

The IAWW is calculated by the Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) from the amount an employee earned in the last four completed calendar quarters before the start of the employee’s benefit year. The IAWW is the average amount the employee earned per week in the two quarters when the employee earned the most money (or the one quarter with the most money if the employee only worked in two or fewer quarters). Prior to the passing of the new law, employees were not allowed to utilize any accrued paid leave such as PTO to bolster the weekly benefit amount.

Updated Example: An employee’s IAWW = $2,000 and they have an approved PFML application that pays $1,100 per week. The employee may top off that amount with PTO up to $900, if available.

Worth comment with these changes is that employees still have a choice here and are not required to use accrued paid leave while receiving PFML benefits.

From an employer readiness standpoint, employers must ensure that they have registered with the DFML and that they are prepared and able to locate an employee’s weekly PFML benefit rate and IAWW amount. The specific process for doing so can be located here and employers should adhere to this guidance to ensure a smooth transition. Further, employers will be responsible for managing any payments made to an employee in excess of the IAWW and the DFML will not get involved with any overpayments. Employers should amend their leave policies accordingly to comply, as needed.

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