The new Massachusetts Parental Leave Act (PLA) overwrites the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (MLA) by expanding coverage beyond just female employees.
Signed into law in January 2015, the new Massachusetts Parental Leave Act:
- Allows male employees to take eight weeks of job-protected leave for the birth or adoption of a child
- Any employee – regardless of gender – may take leave if a child is placed by court order with the employee
- Allows parental leave, with or without pay at the discretion of the employer
The Massachusetts Parental Leave Act took effect April 7, 2015.
Who is Eligible for Massachusetts Parental Leave?
The Massachusetts Parental Leave Act and the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act cover workers who have completed the initial probationary period set by a company’s terms of employment or if the worker has been employed by the same employer for at least three consecutive months as a full-time employee.
Which Massachusetts Businesses Need to Provide Parental Leave?
The new Massachusetts Parental Leave Act applies to businesses with six or more employees in Massachusetts or if at least one employee is classified as a “domestic worker” under the Massachusetts Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.
What if Both Parents Seeking Massachusetts Parental Leave Work for the Same Employer?
Two employees seeking protected leave for the birth or adoption of a child are allowed only eight weeks in total for the same child. In other words, two employees taking leave for the birth of one child cannot claim eight weeks each for one child, but rather eight weeks total for both employees.
Employee Responsibilities Under the Massachusetts Parental Leave Act
An employee needs to provide at least two weeks’ notice to the employer of the anticipated date of departure and also provide an anticipated date of return.
Employee Protections Under the Massachusetts Parental Leave Act
An employee using parental leave is able to return to his/her previous position or one that is comparable with the same status, pay, length of service credit, and seniority as of the date of leave.
Employees on parental leave for the adoption of children are entitled to the same benefits offered to employees on parental leave for childbirth.
If an employer agrees to provide parental leave longer than eight weeks, the employee is eligible for the same protections as provided within the initial eight weeks of protected coverage unless the employer clearly informs the employee prior to the extension of parental leave about denial of reinstatement or loss of other rights and benefits.
Massachusetts Parental Leave Act Posting Requirements
Beginning April 7, 2015, Massachusetts requires employers to display a notice describing this section and the employer’s policies related to this section.
The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) Parental Leave Fact Sheet can be incorporated by employers in a notice to their employees as it sets out the major new requirements of An Act Relative to Parental Leave, however employers’ notices must include their own policies regarding parental leave – company policies presumably in line with the Massachusetts Parental Leave Act.
NOTE: This new notice does not replace the Maternity Leave Act Fact Sheet. Employers must display both as the Parental Leave Act is merely an expansion of the Maternity Leave Act.