Defining Paid Family & Medical Leave

Paid family & medical leave (PFML) is defined as time off during which workers earn full or partial pay for qualified medical or family reasons. Some employers provide comprehensive benefits, while others currently provide a sub-set of these benefits.

Types of PFML Leave

Parental Leave

Paid leave for parents to care for and bond with a new child (as well as recover from childbirth, if applicable). May include maternity and paternity leave (or primary and secondary caregiver leave), adoptive leave, and foster care leave.

Caregiver Leave

Paid leave for an employee to care for a family member with a serious health condition. Family members may include an ill or injured parent, spouse, or child.

Medical Leave

Paid leave due to one's own serious personal health condition that is incapacitating or otherwise prevents one from performing work duties.

Key Components of a PFML Policy

Duration of Leave

PFML benefits offer employees paid time off up to a given number of days / weeks

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Portion of Pay

PFML benefits may cover 100% of an employee's pay or a portion of regular pay

Employee Coverage

Policies may cover all employees equally or may distinguish between different types of workers (e.g., salaried vs. hourly workers)


For more information on PFML policy design and how to think through these decisions for your company, jump to Section III. Design.