Massachusetts Domestic Violence Act: Info for Employers

Published Aug. 25, 2014

Massachusetts Domestic Violence Act

Employees also may need to provide an employer documentation of the domestic or sexual violence, including medical records or a police report, under provisions of the Massachusetts Domestic Violence Act.

Massachusetts passed the Domestic Violence Act, which helps victims of domestic and sexual abuse stay safe and receive appropriate accommodation from law enforcement agencies and healthcare professionals — and from employers.

What is the Massachusetts Domestic Violence Act?

The Massachusetts Domestic Violence Act contains guidance for employers and employees in Section 10, subsection 52E.

Employers with 50 or more employees must permit an employee who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence (or who has a family member who is a victim) to take up to 15 days of leave from work in any 12-month period — as long as the employee is not the perpetrator of the violence.

Employees who wish to take leave to care for themselves or an eligible family member should provide the employer adequate advance notice unless the employee (or a family member of the employee) faces imminent danger. Unless an employer waives the requirement, an employee should exhaust personal leave or vacation balances prior to using the time off allowed under the Massachusetts Domestic Violence Act.

Employees also may need to provide an employer documentation of the domestic or sexual violence, including medical records or a police report. Each employer must decide whether the leave allowed under the act is paid or unpaid.

Will Massachusetts Release a Domestic Violence Leave Poster?

The law does not yet require a poster for this law.

However, an employer must provide notice to each employee of the rights and responsibilities provided by the act. GovDocs confirmed with the Deputy Chief and Special Counsel for Fair Labor Policy in the Fair Labor Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office the State is reviewing the act’s impact.

The state may develop an Advisory of Fact sheet that will summarize the law for employers and employees and would satisfy the act’s requirement for notification to employees.

Massachusetts Employee Notification Requirement

The revision the act requires employers with 50 more employees to “notify each employee of the rights and responsibilities provided by this section including those related to notification requirements and confidentiality.” State officials urged employers to make employees aware of the law through any communications means at an employer’s disposal – including the option to provide employees with the text of the act.

Based on similar notification requirements outlined in the U.S. Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), this type of notification includes:

  • Displaying or distributing a general notice containing the language of the law
  • Including the notice in an employee handbook (or other written material about leave and benefits)
  • Provide a general notice to new employees upon hire

If you are an employer with 50 or more employees covered under the act, you need to communicate to your employees the workplace rights and responsibilities of Section 52E in the Domestic Violence Act. Meanwhile, GovDocs will continue to monitor the state to see if the law triggers changes to existing postings or the release of a new posting.

This Employment Law News blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.

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