Male employees are now eligible for parental leave in Massachusetts. Indeed, one day before the end of his term, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into law on January 7, 2015 substantial changes to the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (MMLA). The changes not only give women more rights and protections regarding maternity leave, but also extend the same rights and protections to men. Employers may need to update their policies to ensure compliance with the new law.
Under the new Parental Leave law, employees are allowed up to eight weeks of leave for childbirth, for adoption or court-ordered placement of a child under the age of 18, or for adoption or court-ordered placement of a mentally or physically disabled child under the age of 23. Like the Family Medical Leave Act, the new Parental Leave law does not require an employer to give two employees who are expecting or adopting a child together more than eight weeks of leave between them. Employers may choose whether or not to pay employees while they are on leave.
To be eligible for parental leave under the new Parental Leave law, employees must have been employed by their employer for at least three months. Eligible employees must provide their employer with notice at least two weeks in advance of taking parental leave, or must give notice as soon as practicable if circumstances beyond an employee’s control make two weeks-notice impracticable.
The Parental Leave law’s most substantial change requires employers, if an employer has a policy of allowing employees more than eight weeks of parental leave, to return an employee to the same or similar position and benefits if more than eight weeks of leave is taken. An employer, however, may limit job and benefits protection to just eight weeks while granting extended leave by giving employees prior written notice that, by taking more than eight weeks of leave, the employee risks losing his or her position and benefits. Another substantial change under the law requires an employer to offer an employee who takes parental leave for adoption the same benefits that are offered to an employee who takes parental leave for childbirth.
Employers are further required to post a notice in the workplace of their rights under the Parental Leave law and of company policies regarding parental leave. The Parental Leave law goes into effect April 7, 2015.
To ensure your company’s policies are in compliance with the new Parental Leave law, please contact any of the attorneys at Royal LLP at (413) 586-2288.