MASSACHUSETTS ENACTS PARENTAL LEAVE ACT

Type:  General 

As of January 7, 2015, The Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (MMLA) has been replaced with the Massachusetts Parental Leave Act by "then" Governor Deval Patrick.

 

As you may know, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) a few years prior believed that the MMLA was discriminatory toward male employees and publically stated that if a male employee files a discrimination charge for not being allowed to take paternity leave, the Commission would side with the male employee.  Since then Employment Attorneys and HR Professionals have urged employers to adopt a Parental Leave policy vs. the state's Maternity Leave law.

 

This new Act requires employers of 6 or more employees to provide parental leave to employees regardless of gender.  

 

To be eligible, employees must have completed an initial period of no more than three months, or have completed three months of consecutive full-time service. Under the Parental Leave Act, both male and female employees are entitled to 8 weeks of unpaid leave for:

  • * the purpose of giving birth;
  • * adoption of a child under the age of 18;
  • * adoption of a child under the age of 23, if the child is mentally or physically disabled; and/or
  • * placement of a child with an employee under a court order.

Employers can decide whether the leave provided is with pay or without. Employees are to be returned to their previous or similar position, unless other employees of equal length of service credit and status in the same or similar position have been laid off due to economic or business conditions. If the employer grants a request for a leave longer than 8 weeks, the employer cannot deny reinstatement to the employee unless the employer provides the employee with a written notice that the 8 weeks will cause denial of reinstatement or loss of other rights and benefits before the leave is expected to begin. 

 

Any leave taken under the Act will not impact an employee's right to receive or attain other benefits (e.g., vacation time, sick leave, bonuses, advancement, seniority, length of service credit, or other benefits) which the employee was eligible for on the date the leave begins.

  

NOTE:  The employer has the option of requiring that any two employees of the same employer be only entitled to 8 weeks of parental leave in total for the birth or adoption of the same child. 

 

WHAT TO DO NOW:

  1. Employers must post in a conspicuous place a notice describing the Act and the employer's policies relating to parental leave. 
  2. All Massachusetts employers should review their employee handbooks, written policies and practices to begin compliance with this Parental Leave Act.
  3. Educate your managers and supervisors of this new law.

 

If you should have questions, please contact Lauren Brenner at Lbrenner@telamonins.com.