Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act

Many parents-to-be wonder just how much time from work they can take off when their child is born.

Effective April 7, 2015, under Massachusetts law, men and women will both be covered under the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (MMLA), which makes them eligible for eight weeks of job-protected leave related to the birth, adoption, or court-ordered placement of a child in their home.  The original MMLA provided female employees the right to take eight weeks of leave after the birth or adoption of a child, without any provisions for male employees or in cases where a child was placed in the home by court order (for example, a guardianship or a foster care situation.)

The amendments to the MMLA provide that men are also eligible to take the eight weeks off to bond with the new child, under the following circumstances:

1.    The employee must have completed the initial probationary period of employment, not to exceed 90 days, or must have been employed full-time by the employer for 90 consecutive days;

2.    Eligible employees shall be entitled to 8 weeks of parental leave for childbirth, or placement for purposes of adoption of a child under the age of 18 (or 23 if mentally/physically disabled).  Please note that if both parents work for the same employer, they may only take a total of 8 weeks leave between them for the same child.

3.    The employee still must give two weeks’ notice before taking leave.  There is now an exception allowing notice “as soon as practicable” if circumstances arise outside of the employee’s control.

4.    Employers must restore the employee to the same or a substantially similar position at the expiration of the leave period.  The employee cannot be required to use sick time or vacation time for parental leave purposes, nor do they lose seniority or length of service credit.

It is up to the employer to decide if the leave period is paid or unpaid.  The employer may also elect to allow the employee to take a longer period of leave, with the same rights of reinstatement, unless they inform the employee in writing prior to the beginning of the leave that a leave period lasting longer than 8 weeks will result in denial of reinstatement and loss of other benefits.

If you have more questions about the amendments to the MMLA, or any other family law issue, please contact us.