Impact of Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) on Benefits
The Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) provides eligible employees:
- Entitlement to job & benefits-protected leave in qualifying circumstances.
- Partial income replacement while on approved leave from their University position or for up to 6 months following departure from employment. PFML does not provide income during the first 7 calendar days of PFML-covered leave. PFML payments do not establish creditable service under the MA State Employees Retirement System (MSERS/pension plan).
PFML recipients may elect to use Paid Time Off/PTO
(eg, accrued sick, vacation, personal time):
1) During the 7 day waiting PFML period
2) For periods paid by DFML so long as the combined payment (PFML + PTO) is not greater than the Individual Average Weekly Wage on which PFML payments were calculated. This is referred to as a "top off" payment. Top off:
- Eligibility amounts can be calculated and paid after the PFML approval letter is issued, at which time the University provides PFML recipients instructions on how to request top off payments. Time and labor for top off payments is administrated centrally by the UMass Division of Human Resources.
- Payments are not subject to MSERS withholdings, thus recipients do not receive creditable service toward MSERS retirement on PFML or top off payments.
PFML leave entitlement runs concurrent with corresponding leave entitlements under federal law (eg, the Family Medical Leave Act/FMLA), state law, University policy and collective bargaining agreements.
Please always review your pay statement carefully - this webpage is intended to provide a general overview of benefits and the impact of an unpaid leave on those benefits. You may have other benefits deducted from your paycheck (eg, you may be enrolled in a union-based short- or long-term disability insurance plan which the University does not administrate).
Questions about the impact of PFML leave on benefit? Contact us!
How to apply for a PFML leave and income replacement
The Employee's Family/Medical Leave Request Process webpage provides Instructions on how to request a leave of absence from your job (full-time, part-time or intermittently).
The Massachusetts Department of Family Medical Leave website provides instructions on applying for PFML income while on approved leave.
Impact of approved PFML leave on accrued time
Sick, vacation and personal time do not accrue while on unpaid leave.
Impact of approved PFML leave on MA Group Insurance Commission (GIC) benefits
Employees on approved PFML leave remain eligible for, and enrolled in, (GIC) health, basic life and (if elected) optional life & long-term disability insurances. The GIC invoices employees on unpaid PFML leave via US post for premiums that would have been payroll-deducted.
Timely payment of GIC invoices is imperative to maintaining coverage. If the GIC terminates coverage due to non-payment of premium you may be ineligible to re-enroll for health insurance until your next GIC open enrollment as a benefited employee and may become permanently ineligible for long-term disability and optional life insurances.
Within 30 days of unpaid leave you may elect to cancel some, or all, of your GIC insurance coverages. You may do this online in the GIC Portal or by completing a GIC Status Change Form (“Form 1a”) at the Human Resources Employee Service Center.
If you elect to cancel GIC insurance coverages, please note return from unpaid leave is not an opportunity to re-establish GIC insurance coverages.
- Health and/or basic life insurances - you may re-enroll for these coverages during April open enrollment for coverage effective the following July 1 or within (and with proof of) involuntary loss of coverage under another plan.
- Optional life and/or long-term disability insurances – you may apply for these coverages after April open enrollment. The GIC’s insurance vendor will initiate a medical evidence of insurability review and approve or deny benefits based on their review.
- MA Group Insurance Commission (telephone: 617.727.2310)
Impact of approved unapid PFML leave on GIC Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)
Please carefully review the FSA Participant Handbook to understand the impact of leave on FSA benefits and the period during which you may incur eligible expenses.
- Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP): unpaid leave is an opportunity to pro-actively change your annual DCAP election online with the GIC's FSA vendor; changes must be initiated within 60 days of unpaid leave. DCAP-covered expenses cannot be incurred while on full-time leave.
- Health Care Spending Account (HCSA):
- You may elect to have no HCSA coverage during leave and adjust your HCSA election amount upon return from leave. Payroll-deductions following return from unpaid leave increase to ensure withholding of your full election amount from the payperiods remaining in the plan year (through June 30). The HCSA debit card is inactive during unpaid leave and no eligible expenses may be incurred while on leave. When you return to work you must contact the HCSA vendor directly if you wish to to modify your election amount. Returning from an unpaid leave is not a qualifying event to terminate an HCSA enrollment.
- If you wish to incur eligible expenses while on an unpaid leave you must continue coverage by choosing one of the following prior to the start of your unpaid leave:
- Prepaying your contributions: You may complete an Enrollment/Status Change e-form online with the GIC's HCSA vendor electing to have a lump-sum, pre-tax deduction taken from your last check before unpaid leave starts. This will cover the period of time that no payroll deductions are taken. If you prepay, your debit card will remain active during unpaid leave and you may continue using funds and submitting claims through the prepaid time period.
- Direct bill payment: You may complete an Enrollment/Status Change e-form online with the GIC's HCSA vendor and request that the vendor invoice you for your contributions. You must then pay the premium and contribution post-tax in order for your HCSA debit card to remain active and for eligible expenses to be covered by the HCSA.
HCSA and DCAP upon return: when University payments restart any missed deductions will be payroll-deducted on a pre-tax basis over the balance of the plan year (ie, through June 30). Note this may significantly increase your bi-weekly HCSA deduction. Returning from leave is not a qualifying event to change your election amount. The HCSA debit card will be inactive during unpaid leave. Once payroll-deductions are re-initiated the debit card is reactivated.
Impact of approved PFML leave on mandatory retirement plans
Benefited employees are members of either the Massachusetts State Employees’ Retirement System (MSERS / pension plan) or the Optional Retirement Program (ORP, investing with TIAA or Fidelity). If you are a member of the:
- MA State Employees’ Retirement System (MSERS / pension system / defined benefit plan):
The MA State Retirement Board is agency of record for MSERS benefits (tel: 617.367.7770).
No creditable service toward retirement is earned while on leave paid by the DFML or on "top off" payments made by the University.
Contact: MA State Retirement Board (telephone: 617.367.7770)
- Optional Retirement Program (ORP): currently neither employee nor employer funds are contributed while an employee is on unpaid leave. While employed in an ORP-covered position, each month during which an employee contributes to the ORP yields a month of service toward GIC retiree insurance eligibility.
Contact: MA Department of Higher Education (telephone: 617.994.6960)
Non-benefited employees: Massachusetts OBRA retirement contributions are not withheld from PFML payments.
Impact of approved PFML leave on Massachusetts voluntary retirement plans
Contributions to the voluntary University 403(b) plan or Massachusetts 457b/SMART plan made by benefited employees will continue to the extent allowed by your University earnings (and cannot be withheld while on unpaid leave). Plan participants can adjust their contributions to the 403b plan online biweekly in the Fidelity NetBenefits system. Changes to 457b/SMART plan contributions take effect the next calendar month and can be modified online in Empower Retirement's system.
Note: if you are on unpaid leave and do not adjust your 403(b) and/or 457/SMART Plan deductions your existing elections will resume upon return to University payroll.
Corestream and other payroll deductions
Corestream deductions: post-tax Corestream payroll deductions generally represent a MetLegal and/or home/auto insurance premium. These premiums are payroll-deducted to the extent allowed by your University earnings but cannot be withheld while you are on a fully unpaid leave. Please contact your home/auto insurance company directly to arrange for direct payment and ensure your coverages remain intact.
UMass Amherst On-Campus Parking Fees: payroll deduction of parking fees resume upon return from unpaid leave.