Considering a private plan? 

To help ensure an optimal experience for employees, businesses must choose between the state-run plan, or a private plan for their MA PFML coverage.

If your business is considering a private plan, it’s not too late. The MA Department of Family and Medical Leave (MA DFML) is continuing to accept applications for private plan exemptions on an ongoing basis. 

See below for more information to assist you in meeting your obligations as an MA employer.

Paid Family and Medical Leave is a statewide program that will allow eligible employees paid time off for:

  • Attending to their own serious health condition, including pregnancy or recovery from childbirth
  • Caring for a family member with a serious health condition
  • Bonding with a new child (within 12 months of birth or placement of child via foster care or adoption)
  • Attending to a qualifying military exigency
  • Caring for a family member who is a covered service member

A covered family member includes: spouses, domestic partners, children (biological, adoptive and foster), parents, parents-in-law, grandparents, grandchildren and siblings.

Benefits were payable beginning January 1, 2021, for an employee’s own serious health condition, bonding with a new child, military exigency and care of a service member.  Benefits began July 1, 2021, for care of a seriously-ill family member.

All Massachusetts employers are required to participate. Self-employed individuals and independent contractors are excluded. However, self-employed individuals may elect coverage. For more information on an employer’s obligations, visit: MA Employer's Guide to Paid Family and Medical Leave.

Covered employers have the option to file for an exemption from the state-run program administered by the Department of Family and Medical Leave and secure coverage through a private insurance plan offered by an insurance carrier or to self-fund. Learn more about the Paid Family and Medical Leave exemption application process for employers.

Private plan exemptions can be filed anytime. If approved by the state, the exemption will go into effect the first of the quarter following the approval.

As of January 1, 2021, covered individuals may be eligible to receive up to:

  • 12 weeks of paid family leave in a benefit year for:  bonding with a new child within the first 12 months of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement; and/or for a qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that a family member is on active duty or has been notified of an impending call to active duty in the Armed Forces.
  • 20 weeks of paid medical leave in a benefit year if the covered individual has a serious health condition that prevents them from working.
  • 26 weeks of paid family leave in a benefit year to care for a family member who is a covered service member undergoing medical treatment or otherwise addressing consequences of a serious health condition relating to the family member’s military service.

As of July 1, 2021, covered individuals may be eligible to receive up to:

  • 12 weeks of paid family leave in a benefit year to care for a family member with a serious health condition.

The total combined amount of paid leave an employee can take in one benefit year is 26 weeks.

Leave may be taken on a continuous, reduced or intermittent schedule depending on the leave type and subject to agreement between the employer and employee as appropriate.

The weekly benefit amount is based on the individual’s earnings, with a maximum benefit of 64 percent of the Massachusetts statewide average weekly wage. The maximum benefit is $850 per week. Benefits are subject to change annually as set forth by the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) and will be adjusted no later than October 1 for each upcoming year.

Guardian has a private plan option to assist covered employers in meeting their obligation to provide Massachusetts’ state mandated PFML coverage.

Our product offering is fully-insured, state-approved, and competitively priced.  Plus, our digital capabilities can make administration easier – with online claims submission and access to bills, policies and reports.

You can count on:

  • Dedicated support to file a private plan exemption with the state.
  • Assistance with adjusting Short Term Disability (STD) and Long Term Disability (LTD) plan designs to integrate with a PFML plan.
  • A single point-of-contact for disability and/or paid leave claims inquiries.
  • Experienced claims management by tenured professionals, including safe and effective return to work support.
  • Updates on new regulations and ongoing guidance to keep you compliant.

Please contact your Guardian Group Sales Consultant or broker for quoting requirements and additional information concerning an MA PFML private plan option through Guardian.

Guardian has provided employers with statutory disability plans for more than a decade, taking a consultative approach to help bring resources together for successful PFML plan implementation and management, no matter the level of complexity. Our management of PFML plans helps ensure that any Human Resources team can meet the challenge of efficiently managing employee leaves while easing administrative burden and enhancing compliance. 

Effective employee leave management is key to helping ensure your business remains compliant with state laws, helping you to avoid costly fines. Available to companies with 50 or more employees, employers can streamline their leave management efforts for every type of employee leave, including federal and state family and medical leaves, STD, LTD and company leaves, with our comprehensive absence management solutions. We can help ensure employers:

  • Stay compliant
  • Avoid costly and disruptive investigations, fines or even lawsuits
  • Lift the administrative burden off existing staff
  • Improve the employee experience
  • Increase productivity

Plus, we offer ADA services that allow employers to choose the level of support that meets their needs, including clinical assistance during the interactive process.


All terms of coverage, including benefits, eligibility, coverage limitations and exclusions under Guardian’s Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave plan (MA PFML) will comply with MA PFML law and regulation. Any optional riders and/or features which may be available may incur additional costs. Plan documents are the final arbiter of coverage.

Group insurance products are underwritten and issued by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, NY. Products are not available in all states.

* Links to external sites are provided for your convenience in locating related information and services. Guardian, its subsidiaries, agent and employees expressly disclaim any responsibility for and do not maintain, control, recommend, or endorse third-party sites, organizations, products, or services and make no representation as to the completeness, suitability, or quality thereof. Does not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. Consult your tax, legal, or account professional regarding your individual situation.

Guardian’s Group Short and Long Term Disability Insurance is underwritten and issued by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, NY.  Products are not available in all states.  Policy limitations and exclusions apply.  Optional riders and/or features may incur additional costs.

GUARDIAN® is a registered trademark of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America.

2021-126118 20210902