Starting Tuesday, Massachusetts workers will see their pay shrink by a few dollars a week as the state starts collecting contributions from employees and employers for its family and medical leave fund. Workers can start dipping into that fund beginning in January 2021 to take care of a new child or a sick family member, or to recover from a serious illness or injury themselves. The fund will also cover needs arising from military service.
Here’s how it shakes out:
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. The state so far has received more than 740 exemption applications from companies, including those that have private plans or are self-insured.
How much time can I take off from work?
Workers will get up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a new child or a sick family member, and up to 20 weeks to recover from a personal illness or injury. Military families can get up to 12 weeks to care for needs arising from active-duty service and up to 26 weeks to care for a family member who serves in the armed forces. The maximum aggregate amount allowed in a year is 26 weeks.
How is this going to be funded?
Starting Oct. 1, companies will be charged a 0.75 percent payroll tax. Employers are responsible for at least half of that, meaning the maximum employees will be charged is 38 cents per every $100 earned. Employers with fewer than 25 workers don’t have to pay into it, but their employees will still have to contribute .38 percent.
How much is this going to cost me?
A full-time minimum wage worker making $25,000 a year will be charged no more than $1.82 a week, or $95 a year, according to calculations by Raise Up Massachusetts, the coalition of labor and activist groups that pushed for the paid-leave law. If he takes paid leave, he would receive 80 percent of his regular weekly earnings, or $384.62 a week.
Someone making $100,000 a year will pay a maximum of $7.27 a week, or $378 a year. Her paid leave would equal 44 percent of weekly earnings, or $850 a week, which is the maximum replacement wage amount.
The state has an online calculator where workers can estimate their benefit.
Earnings subject to paid leave contributions are capped at $132,900.
How do I qualify?
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.