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Massachusetts Society of Professors

The Union of Faculty and Librarians at UMass Amherst

Paid Family & Medical Leave Law

Last year, the UMass unions participated in a ballot initiative campaign to win paid sick leave and family leave for all workers in Massachusetts.  Voters overwhelmingly approved the initiative and workers across the commonwealth won an excellent new benefit. You can read more about the new law here:

Paid family and medical leave (PFML) will cover employees who are welcoming a new child into the family, dealing with serious illness or injury, or caring for an ill relative.  All UMass employees, like other state and private-sector workers, will have the right to paid leave.

The state law leaves open the question of who pays for the new benefit.  The cost is 0.63 percent of salary, which can be paid by the employee or employer or some combination of both. For example, PFML for a staff member earning $50,000 per year would cost $315 per year, with the cost to be divided between the employer and the employee.  Payroll deductions to create the statewide fund were originally scheduled to begin on July 1, 2019, and benefits will begin on January 1, 2021.  We recently learned that the governor and the legislature are proposing to delay the beginning of mandatory contributions, and we will let you know when we learn the precise timing.

All of the UMass unions are demanding that the administration bargain with us to implement PFML on our campuses, to decide what percentage of the benefit will be paid by the employer.  Our principles are:

1. The implementation of PFML must be consistent with equity for all staff.

2. We are coordinating with other state employee unions.  SEIU Local 509, for example, representing many state agencies and private employers, has demanded that the employer pay the full cost of the benefit for all employees.  We are joining them.

3. We are defining family to be as broad and inclusive as possible, to include elder care, all domestic partners, foster children, etc.

4. Bargaining units that already enjoy excellent leave policies -- including MSP -- should not be harmed in any way because of the new policy.

The unions are having their first meeting with the UMass President's Office the week of June 17th. Please contact the MSP if you have any questions or concerns, and we will update you when we have more information.