As the second full year of the Massachusetts paid family leave law nears, the department that runs the program recently made a fairly unusual decision – it is reducing rather than increasing the tax rate that supports the program. Beginning January 1, 2022, weekly contributions from both employers and employees will drop. At the same time, the maximum weekly benefit for workers who take advantage of the paid leave program will increase.
To this point, employers with 25 or more workers have paid the tax at the rate .75% of gross wages paid, which is divided roughly evenly between workers and companies. The rate will drop to .68% on January 1, delivering a modest savings of 70 cents per thousand dollars of wages (from $7.50 to $6.80). For employers with fewer than 25 employees, the tax rate will drop from .378% to .344%, a reduction of about 34 cents per thousand dollars of earnings, an amount that must be paid only by workers and not their companies (though employers can voluntarily pay some or all of the tax). Meanwhile, the maximum weekly pay benefit for full-time workers who qualify for family or medical leave will increase from $850 to $1,084.31.
The Massachusetts family/medical leave program is administered by the Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML). While employers are responsible for collecting taxes, contributing to them based on size, and paying the money over to the DFML quarterly, the Department reviews and makes all leave decisions. Employees must file applications directly with it, and employers can then provide feedback through their registered representatives. Leave can be used for things such as the birth or adoption of children, dealing with health conditions, or assisting active members of the military. It can be taken for fixed periods or intermittently, and pay is issued by the DFML to qualified employees. For more information on this process or other aspects of the program, visit the DFML website.