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Reminder: Additional Leave Benefit Available Under Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave on July 1, 2021

Most benefits under the Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave (MA PFML) became available to eligible employees on January 1, 2021. The final benefit, leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition, becomes available to eligible employees on July 1, 2021.
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Amount of Available Leave

Eligible employees may take up to 12 weeks in a rolling calendar year for family leave.

Notably, for employees who previously took leave to care for a family member’s health condition under a different statute, such as the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, the 12 week allotment of leave under MA PFML will not be reduced. In other words, the employee would still be entitled to the full 12 weeks of leave under MA PFML. However, for those employees who took family leave under the MA PFML for another covered reason, for example to bond with a child, the 12 week leave entitlement will be reduced by that leave time.

Covered Family Members

For the purposes of this leave, the term “family member” means the employee’s:

  • Spouse or domestic partner
  • Children Parents
  • Spouse or domestic partner’s parents
  • Grandchildren
  • Grandparents
  • Your siblings

Family members include biological, adopted, foster, through legal guardianship or loco parentis, and/or step-relations. Family members do not need to be located in Massachusetts. In the event that an employer doubts or questions the familial relationship, the Department of Family Medical Leave (DFML) may require documentation of the relationship from the employee.

Covered Activities

Covered activities include (but are not limited to):

  • Providing the daily living needs that the family member cannot perform due to their serious health condition, such as helping them get dressed or helping with meals;
  • Providing transportation to the doctor or other facilities for appointments and treatment;
  • Providing support for their serious mental health condition, such as taking them to therapy or medication appointments for major depression; and
  • Helping make arrangements for changes in care, such as a transfer to a nursing home.

Documentation

When applying for family leave, employees must provide a Certification of the Family Member’s Serious Health Condition, that includes the following information from the family member’s health care provider:

  • Confirmation that the family member has a serious health condition
  • When the family member’s condition began
  • How long the health care provider thinks the family member’s condition will continue
  • Any other relevant details about the family member’s condition
  • The employee is needed to care for the family member
  • Information about how often and for how long the family member needs the employee to care for them
  • The name and address of the family member and their relationship to the employee

Employers should ensure that all handbooks and policies are up to date and educate their Human Resources professionals on handling and responding to requests for this additional type of leave now available under the MA PFML.

For additional information about the MA PFML and its implementation, please refer to Arent Fox’s alerts on the subject:

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