The Massachusetts Parental Leave bill has been recently amended impacting the rights afforded to employees in the state who have given birth to or adopted children, or are expecting. The new Parental Leave act took effect as of April 7, 2015.
The statute now expands the statutory leave obligations to parents of both genders with respect to the birth or adoption of a child. An employer must provide eight (8) weeks of parental leave to both male and female employee for the purpose of giving birth to a child or for adoption of a child under 18 (or under age 23 if the child is mentally or physically disabled). If an employer employs both parents, the couple combined is only entitled one 8 week leave period. The employee’s job status must be protected while on leave, with few specific exceptions. The new act furthers the job-protection presumption to any agreed-upon extensions of the 8 week leave period.
The parental leave need not be paid and employers can cease the accrual of benefits, including paid time off and sick leave during the leave period. However, the leave cannot affect their accrued rights or eligibility status for such benefits. Further, there is no obligation for employers to continue to make cost contributions to any benefits, plans, or programs during the leave period, unless such costs and contributions are made for employees taking other leave periods, i.e., disability leave, leaves of absences, etc.
Employers should update their policies and postings to comply with this new act and to coordinate their other leave and benefits policies consistent with the new law.
For additional information please do not hesitate to contact Finneran & Nicholson, P.C. at (978) 462-1514 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.