Learn the latest about topping off Massachusetts paid leave

01/10/2024

Employers have more control

Employee use and accrual of employer-provided paid leave to top off Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave (MA PFML) benefits is now subject to the terms and conditions of the employer policy, according to recent guidance from the state Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML). This gives employers more discretion over the topping off of leave.

How the topping off works

Employees may use vacation time, sick time, or other paid time off (PTO) while receiving MA PFML benefits. For MA PFML applications filed on or after November 1, 2023, employees can receive top off benefits from their employer using PTO. The combined weekly sum of MA PFML benefits and employer-provided paid leave benefits cannot, however, exceed employee Individual Average Weekly Wage (IAWW).

The MA PFML supplies only partial income to employees who take the leave. For employees who would want to receive their full income, they may use other, accrued, employer-provided PTO.

If, for example, an employee's IAWW is $2,000 and they have an approved MA PFML application that pays $1,100 per week, the employee may top off that amount with PTO up to $900, if available.

History

Before October 2023, the DFML said that if an employee received any accrued PTO, they were not eligible for MA PFML benefits during the same period. Topping off was not allowed.

The law, however, was changed effective November 1, to allow the topping off.

At first, the DFML guidance said that employees had the choice of topping off the MA PFML; that employers could not dictate whether and how employees could use their PTO.

Last month, that changed. Now, an employee's ability to top off MA PFML is subject to the accrual and use rules of an employer's PTO policies.

The employer policy, however, must not discriminate against an employee for exercising a right to which employees are entitled under the MA PFML program.

Key to Remember: Employers have more say in when and how employees top off their MA PFML. Therefore, employers should ensure their PTO policies appropriately address topping off MA PFML for employees who work in Massachusetts.

This article was written by Darlene M. Clabault, SHRM-CP, PHR, CLMS, of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. The content of these news items, in whole or in part, MAY NOT be copied into any other uses without consulting the originator of the content.

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