Business & Tech

Here’s what we know about the state’s paid leave program

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker is expected to sign legislation that creates a statewide program for paid family and medical leave.
Steven Senne/Associated Press/File 2018
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker is expected to sign legislation that creates a statewide program for paid family and medical leave.

As part of a sweeping wage and benefits bill passed by the Legislature this week — and expected to be signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker — Massachusetts is set to become the seventh state to mandate paid family and medical leave for its workers. Here’s a primer on the measure and how it’s supposed to work:

Who benefits from this?

Virtually every employee who qualifies for unemployment insurance is eligible for paid leave. Municipalities are exempt, but they can opt in.

My company already offers paid leave. Does the law apply to us?

Employers that already provide paid leave can opt out, as long as the benefit they offer meets or exceeds the state plan.

How much time can I take off from work?

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Workers receive up to 12 weeks of paid family leave to care for a new child, and up to 20 weeks of medical leave if they or a family member has a serious illness or injury. The maximum aggregate amount allowed in a year is 26 weeks.

How much pay can I receive?

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The amount is based on a sliding scale of your income, capped at no more than 64 percent of the state average weekly wage. Currently, that limit is $850 a week.

How is this going to be funded?

Companies will be charged a 0.63 percent payroll tax, split roughly 50-50 between employees and employers, which goes into a state fund. Employers with fewer than 25 workers don’t have to pay into it, but employees will still have to contribute their portion of the tax.

So how much is this going to cost me?

On average, each employee will have between $2 and $2.50 a week taken out of his or her paycheck. This amount could go down as the program is implemented.

When does it go into effect?

The tax will kick in next summer, and paid leave benefits will become available in 2021.

How do I qualify?

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Workers file a claim with their employer, 30 days in advance of the requested leave, if possible, including the date, reason, anticipated duration, and medical documentation. The first seven days are not covered but can be paid for by sick or vacation time.

Katie Johnston can be reached at katie.johnston@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ktkjohnston.