The Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave (MA PFML) law allows workers to take paid time off for a serious health condition or to care for family members and provides job protection during approved leaves.

Most employees working in Massachusetts will be eligible for this new law beginning January 1, 2021.  To prepare for that date, here is what you need to know:


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

  • 12 weeks of paid family leave in a benefit year for the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child during the first 12 months, or because of 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 they have 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.

Beginning 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, or approximately $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 finalized prior to January 1, 2021 and adjusted no later than October 1 for each upcoming year.


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 use a private insurance plan. Learn more about the Paid Family and Medical Leave exemption application process for employees.

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. 

Massachusetts covered employers should complete the following steps:

  • Download the MA PFML workplace poster in English and any other languages applicable to their workforce and post them at their worksites in conspicuous places by September 30, 2019.
  • Send out individual written notices to all current employees and 1099 contractors in each worker’s primary language no later than September 30, 2019 (extended from June 30).
  • Retain the signed acknowledgment-of-receipt forms.
  • Update onboarding documentation to include the written MA PFML notice so that new hires receive the required PFML information within 30 days of hire.
  • Review MA paid leave benefit requirements and decide whether they want to pursue a private plan offering or provide the required coverage through the state program.
  • Educate and inform their respective payroll department/ payroll vendor or their coverage decision. If maintaining state coverage, advise payroll department/vendor to initiate the employee payroll withholdings for PFML contributions starting October 1, 2019. If approved for a private plan exemption, advise payroll department/vendor accordingly, that the payroll withholdings for PFML contributions will not be required until the plan effective date of January 2, 2021.

What Guardian is Doing

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 a MA PFML private plan option through Guardian.

Download the MA PFML Fact Sheet (PDF) for more details.

Why Guardian?

Effective employee leave management is key to ensuring your business remains compliant with state laws, helping you to avoid costly fines. 

Guardian has provided employers with statutory disability plans for more than a decade, taking a consultative approach to bring the right resources together for successful PFML plan implementation and management, no matter the level of complexity. Our management of PFML plans help ensure that any Human Resources team can meet the challenge of efficiently managing employee leaves while easing administrative burden and enhancing compliance.  Our plans are fully insured, state-approved, and backed by digital capabilities designed to help make administration easier.

Further, our Guardian AbsenceWorks® can help reduce the administrative burden and enhance compliance with the integrated management of STD and LTD benefits, state and federal family medical leaves, and company leaves. Available to companies with 50 or more employees, employers can choose from a variety of plans and service options, including ADA support.

To learn more about Guardian leave management services reach out to your Guardian Group Sales Consultant or broker.


Group Insurance coverages are 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.  Plan documents are the final arbiter of coverage. GUARDIAN® is a registered service mark of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America®.

2020-101447 (05/22)

2019-87652 (10/21)