Press Release: 2020-01-14

Nonprofit 411: Paid Family and Medical Leave is Coming to Massachusetts in 2021

Nonprofit 411: Paid Family and Medical Leave is Coming to Massachusetts in 2021


by Jeff Bastien, AVP, RogersGray Insurance


As part of the “Grand Bargain,” Massachusetts officially passed a Paid Family & Medical Leave (PFML) program into legislation, with benefits scheduled to start on January 1, 2021.


The road to 2021 has come with challenges, as deductions that were originally scheduled to have started 7/1/19 were delayed to 10/1/19. The marketplace pushed back against legislators asking for more time to prepare for what was to come. That delay caused the rate increase from 0.63% of gross payroll up to 0.75%.


As withholdings started 10/1 for many employers, many went through the process of getting a Private Plan proposal and filing for an exemption, saving significant dollars versus paying on the state plan.


Two private options from the approved carriers have come out of this process:


Custom PFML percentage based on a census of their employees today, with the understanding they will need to get a finalized quote before putting the plan into place in 2021. Some of these carriers require additional lines of coverage, and others will write the PFML stand alone. Here are some risks to understand:

While you can get a rate less than the state 0.75%, you could also end up with a rate higher

Your rates are not final rates and are subject to change if you have a big population change

Carriers that matched the state rate of 0.75% if organizations either already have business with the carrier or commit to writing one or more other lines of business bundled with the PFML benefit. Here are some risks to understand:

You do not know if the 0.75% is high or low based on your population; you could be over-paying

If you move your other lines of coverage to a different carrier, you will lose the 0.75% guaranteed rate and if you are a less desirable risk, you could end up paying more

Even though the first exemption deadline passed (12/20/19), those who have not received an exemption will still have the option to file for a Private Plan exemption for the contributions prior to 2021.


There is still plenty to do for an organization in 2020 to help prepare you for 2021 when PFML starts. PFML is putting a spotlight on Human Resource departments as it is another regulation that could potentially be a target for discrimination lawsuits from employees.


Here are some of the items you can review to see if they need to be addressed prior to 2021:


HR Audit including:

Best practices for handling employee issues

Employee Handbook

Job Descriptions

Disciplinary Policies

PTO and Leave Policy Reviews

Technology options with Leave Management via private carriers

Benefit Updates:

Short-Term Disability – full update to lower/cancel coverage as PFML will end up taking over a large portion of STD benefits (including AFLAC/Colonial Benefits)

Long-Term Disability –waiting period needs to be updated as PFML benefits have a longer duration than the typical STD benefit that they will end up replacing

Adding these items to your HR agenda in 2020 will undoubtedly save time and energy (and potentially company dollars) when PFML starts in 2021 and employees begin requesting leave.


If there are any questions surrounding PFML or any of the items discussed in this article, please feel free to reach out to Jeff Bastien at 978-722-0206 or jbastien@rogersgray.com.