Like employers in every state, Massachusetts employers must follow the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows eligible employees to take unpaid leave for certain reasons. Once an employee’s FMLA leave is over, the employee has the right to be reinstated to his or her position.
Massachusetts laws also give employees additional leave rights, as explained below. Employees are entitled to the protections of all applicable laws; if more than one law applies, the employee may use the most beneficial provisions.
Federal FMLA Rights
Employees in Massachusetts who are eligible may take up to 12 weeks of leave for serious health conditions, bonding with a new child, or preparation for a family member's military service; more leave is available for employees who need to care for a family member who was seriously injured on active military duty. For detailed information on FMLA leave, see Taking Family and Medical Leave.
Who Is Covered?
Massachusetts employers are subject to the FMLA if they have at least 50 employees for at least 20 weeks in the current or previous year.
Employees are eligible for FMLA leave if:
- they have worked for the company for at least a year
- they worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous year, and
- they work at a location with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.
Reasons for Leave
FMLA leave is available if an employee needs time off to:
- recuperate from a serious health condition
- care for a family member with a serious health condition
- bond with a new child
- handle qualifying exigencies arising out of a family member’s military service, or
- care for a family member who suffered a serious injury during active duty in the military. (You can find more information on these last two types of leave in Military Family Leave for Employees.)
How Much Leave Is Available?
Massachusetts employees may take up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for a serious health condition, bonding with a new child, or qualifying exigencies. This leave is available every 12 months, as long as the employee continues to meet the eligibility requirements explained above.
Employees may take up to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period for military caregiver leave. However, this is a per-injury, per-service member entitlement. Unless the same family member is injured again, or another family member suffers an injury while on active duty, an employee may not take additional leave for this purpose.
Leave and Reinstatement Rights
Employees are entitled to continue their health insurance while on leave, at the same cost they must pay while working. FMLA leave is unpaid, but employees may be allowed (or required) to use their accrued paid leave during FMLA leave.
When an employee’s FMLA leave ends, the employee is entitled to be reinstated to the same or an equivalent position, with a few exceptions.
Massachusetts Family and Medical Leave Laws
In addition to the rights granted by the FMLA, Massachusetts employees have the right, under state law, to take time off for parenting and for small necessities.
Massachusetts Maternity and Adoption Leave
Employers with at least six employees must give eligible employees up to eight weeks off for the birth or adoption of a child.
Massachusetts Small Necessities Law
Employers with at least 50 employees must give eligible employees up to 24 hours of leave in any 12-month period to:
- participate in school activities directly related to the educational advancement of the employee’s child, such as parent-teacher conferences or interviewing for a new school
- accompany the child to routine medical or dental appointments, or
- accompany an elderly relative (one who is related to the employee by blood or marriage and is at least 60 years old) to routine medical or dental appointments or appointments for other professional services relating to the relative’s care.
Massachusetts Domestic Violence Leave
Employers with 50 or more employees must provide up to 15 days of unpaid leave in a 12-month period to an employee who is a victim of abusive behavior or who has a family member who is a victim of abusive behavior. Time off may be taken to seek medical treatment or counseling, obtain a protective order, attend child custody proceedings, or for other similar purposes.
For More Information
You can find detailed information about Massachusetts leave laws at the website of the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Library.