Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave (MA PFML)

Most companies with employees working in Massachusetts are covered under the state's Paid Family and Medical Leave (MA PFML) law. MA PFML was enacted in 2018 and went into effect on January 1, 2021, providing paid leave benefits for workers needing time away from their jobs to welcome a new child, recover from a serious illness or injury, care for an ill family member, or manage family affairs when a family member is on active military duty. Using a leave management system allows employers to stay up to date and in compliance with all state leave laws. Here’s why teams may not want to handle employee leave internally, or with a traditional leave provider:

Keeping up with leave law compliance

Each leave law offers different job-protection and/or wage replacement coverage for employees:

The Massachusetts Paid Family Leave Act (MA PFML) provides up to 26 weeks of combined family and medical leave per benefit year for qualifying reasons:

• Up to 12 weeks of job protected time and partial pay for parental leave
• Up to 20 weeks of job protected time and partial pay for medical leave
• Up to 12 weeks of protected time and partial pay for caring for a family member
• Up to 26 weeks of job protected time and partial pay for caregiver leaves for a family member who was injured serving in the armed forces
• Up to 12 weeks to manage the affairs while a family member is on active duty

Separately, the Massachusetts Parental Leave Law also provides up to 8 weeks of job protected time for parental leaves.

All of these programs interact with FMLA, local leave laws, any employer policies, and short-term disability insurance. 

Performing eligibility determination

Who is eligible for wage replacement under MA PFML? 

Most employees who meet the minimum earnings requirements from the MA Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) in the last 4 quarters (currently set at $6,300).

When employers use a traditional leave management solution or handle internally instead of using Cocoon’s leave software, eligibility determination is manual, error prone, and time-consuming. Cocoon codifies ever-changing federal and state leave laws, eliminating human error and legal risk across all 50 states for employers while providing a seamless experience for employees.

Sending required compliance notices

Depending on employer size and employee eligibility, employers are required to send a number of notices, which may include:

• Notice of Eligibility for Family and Medical Leave and Rights and Responsibilities
• Designation Notice for Family and Medical Leave
• Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave brochure 
• Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act brochure

When employers use a traditional leave management solution or handle internally instead of using Cocoon’s leave software, compliance notices are sent manually and at random times. We automate compliance notices on behalf of employers.

Supporting leave claims submission

Depending on the employee and leave type, there are a variety of claims forms that must be submitted during very specific time frames:

• Massachusetts bonding claim
• Massachusetts short term disability claim
• Private short term disability claim

Rather than spending hours with each employee going on leave, you can give employees the seamless, private experience they deserve with Cocoon:
• Employees can plan a leave in 10 minutes, layering federal and state compliance with your private disability and company policies
• Cocoon gives employees step-by-step guidance on what claims they need to file, when. Cocoon files private disability claims on behalf of employees, and empowers them with information and tools to file applicable state claims themselves
• We provide educational content every step of the way.
• For additional support, employees have unlimited access to Cocoon’s CLMS-certified Support Team via email and phone for more complex questions
• Cocoon notifies managers when a teammate requests a leave, and also provides timely email guidance and resources at key stages

Check out this example in California:

Calculating leave payroll

Under MA PFML, benefits are determined by an employee’s average weekly wage up to a cap. The weekly maximum benefit in 2024 is $1,149.90. If employers have parental, medical, and caregiver leave policies, these benefits will need to be coordinated with employer pay.Here’s what leave pay looks like with Cocoon:

• Cocoon’s software calculates leave pay based on your policy and each employee’s estimated benefits earnings from private disability and their state
• Admins can download pay files right from their Dashboard, available according to their unique pay calendar

Offering paid leave costs less than you think

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