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.
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.
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:
FMLA leave is available if an employee needs time off to:
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.
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.
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.
Employers with at least six employees must give eligible employees up to eight weeks off for the birth or adoption of a child.
Employers with at least 50 employees must give eligible employees up to 24 hours of leave in any 12-month period to:
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.
You can find detailed information about Massachusetts leave laws at the website of the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Library.