On January 7, 2015, the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (“MMLA”) was extended to provide coverage to male employees.  The amended law continues to apply to employers with more than six (6) employees.  The amended law – M.G.L. c. 149, §105D –  will be effective on April 7, 2015.

Under the amended law, male employees working for an employer with more than six (6) employees must be provided eight (8) weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child.  Previously, the MMLA only provided eight (8) weeks unpaid leave to female employees.   

Important features of the amended MMLA include:

  • If both parents work for the same employer, the employees are entitled to only a total of eight (8) weeks of leave for the same child;
  • The MMLA also now provides coverage for the placement of an employee’s child pursuant to a court order;
  • Employees are eligible for leave if they have completed the initial probationary period set by the terms of employment, not to exceed three (3) months or if there is no such probationary period, have been employed by the same employer for at least three (3) consecutive months as a full-time employee;
  • Employees still must to provide at least two (2) weeks notice to the employer of the anticipated date of employee’s departure and intended return date, but the amended law now allows an employee to provide notice “as soon as practicable” if the delay in providing notice is for a reason beyond the employee’s control;
  • Employers still must restore the employee to the previous, or a similar, position with the same skills, pay, length of service credit and seniority as of the date of the leave; and
  • Parental leave does not affect the employee’s right to receive vacation time, sick leave, bonuses, advancement, seniority, length-of-service credit, benefits, plans or programs for which the employee was eligible as of the date of the leave or any other advantages or rights of employment.

For employers with more than fifty (50) employees, under existing federal law, the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), new mothers and fathers are both eligible for up to twelve (12) weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child.  MMLA leave runs concurrently, and not in addition to, any leave granted under the FMLA.  However, under some circumstances, a parent may be entitled to more than twelve (12) weeks leave in one (1) year.  For example, a parent can take FMLA leave up to twelve (12) weeks during a pregnancy for a purpose other than birth and still be entitled to eight (8) weeks paternity leave under the MMLA. 

If you have any questions about the new law or require a compliance review of existing PTO policies or employee handbooks, please contact Gareth W. Notis at 617-737-8857.