July Brings More Opportunity to Take Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave

Article contributed by Mark Adams

The implementation of the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave law has had its bumps in the road to be sure. From multiple iterations of regulations to a reboot of the company leave administration portal where HR or their designee had to re-register to be their company’s bona fide leave administrator, there have been challenges. 

Under the PFML’s framework, eligible employees had the right to submit claims beginning on January 1st, 2021 to:

  • Manage their own serious health condition
  • Bond with a child during the first 12 months after the child’s birth
  • Bond with a child during the first 12 months after adoption or foster care placement
  • Care for a family member who is or was a member of the Armed Forces, National Guard or Reserves and developed or aggravated a serious health condition in line of duty on active duty while deployed to a foreign country
  • Manage family affairs when a family member is on or has been called to active duty in a foreign county while in the armed forces, including the National Guard or Reserves.

With July comes the next phase as eligible employees can now submit claims for “family reasons” as defined by the Act.  

Now, at first blush, this may not seem significant (after all – it is but one additional reason why a claim can be filed).  However, the impact of this additional reason cannot be overstated.  Simply put, the scope of family relationships covered under PFML is broad as it covers a child, spouse, parent, parent of spouse, grandchild, grandparent, sibling or domestic partner.  (Factors in determining whether one is a domestic partner include common property ownership, common householding, common children, intent to marry, shared budgeting, relationship, registration of domestic partner status.)

This is much broader than the sphere of relationships covered under the federal FMLA that only reaches out to children, spouses or parents. 

While employers have been advised for quite some time to update their leave of absence policies to ensure that the added reasons are covered, HR should remind supervisors of this expansion so that they can be mindful of its potential effects on their staffing; and to avoid improper treatment of employees who may be out for these covered reasons.