BOSTON (CBS) – When Ashley Camden had her first baby at the end of December, she thought the timing was perfect. Rose was born days before Massachusetts’ new Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program launched on January 1. She and her husband both qualified and are planning to take time off.
“We have every two to three months with the baby, our first child. We were super excited, ”she told WBZ-TV.
READ MORE: Candlelight vigil honors 214 Newton residents who died from COVID-19
But while juggling the stress of caring for a newborn baby and trying to make the most of their time together, the couple became increasingly frustrated with the agency dealing with leave payments. .
“In the middle of the application the person’s computer died so I had to call back and apply again and that created a duplicate application, which they then reported (as) fraudulent,” Ashley said. exposing several other obstacles, including having to send documents multiple times. “It was just a mess.”
Weeks went by and still no payments. The bills were piling up while the savings were dwindling.
“Fortunately, we both have families who were able to help us,” she said.
Caitlin Haskins was in a similar situation, spending much of her maternity leave trying to regain her benefits.
“I have bills to pay. It’s infuriating, ”she told WBZ.
The PFML program is largely funded by contributions from the employer or the employee themselves. Haskins contributed approximately $ 5,200 to the program.
READ MORE: Tom Brady Launches NFT Company
“It’s like my money is stuck there,” she says.
When we contacted the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, a spokesperson told WBZ:
• While the Paid Family and Medical Leave Benefits Program was launched on January 1, DFML is continually improving the process and speeding up payment times.
• DFML adds more employees to its call center and strives to improve the customer service experience on several fronts.
• Benefits can only be sent after the start of a period of leave to verify that the leave has started as scheduled, that the claim is eligible and that the seven-day waiting period has been met.
Camden and Haskins finally got their money. Camden arrived a week after her 12 weeks of covered leave ended.
“It’s the last thing you want to worry about right now when you’re trying to enjoy the new things, the smiles and the milestones that are coming in this new time,” she said.
On July 1, thousands more Massachusetts residents will be eligible for this program to care for sick relatives.
NO MORE NEWS: Ineligible residents line up outside Dorchester clinic in hopes of being vaccinated against COVID
For more information, visit the state website.