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Domestic Violence Leave Law Update

Published:  December 4, 2014

In August, Massachusetts enacted a law that requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide up to 15 days of leave during any 12-month period if an employee or an employee’s family member is a victim of domestic abuse.  Recently, the Massachusetts Attorney General issued guidance on how to interpret and comply with this law. 

For instance, the Attorney General has clarified that the law applies to employers who employ 50 or more employees in Massachusetts, as opposed to 50 employees overall. 

In addition, the Attorney General has provided guidance by offering examples of how employers can meet the notice requirement under the law, including:

  • Inclusion in a new employee handbook;
  • Addendum to an existing employee handbook;
  • A memo, letter, or e-mail to employees; and/or
  • Posting notice in the same manner as required by wage and hour law. 

As a best practice to ensure all employees receive notice, employers should consider updating their employee handbooks to include a policy about domestic violence leave.  Once this policy is implemented, employers should ensure supervisors and managers are trained to understand their obligations under this policy and how to handle requests for domestic violence leave. 

Despite this guidance, some questions have been left unanswered.  For instance, the Attorney General’s guidance does not address whether domestic violence leave may run concurrently with other leave such as leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.  Therefore, when confronted with questions related to domestic violence leave employers would be wise to consult with employment counsel.     

If you have any questions regarding the domestic violence leave law, please contact any of the attorneys at Royal LLP at (413) 586-2288.