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Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act

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Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act

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Although having a baby is an exciting time in many people’s lives, it is not uncommon for employees to struggle with how to tell an employer that they are expecting. Employees are often concerned with how they will be perceived if they ask for time off, and if their job will be waiting for them when they return. The Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act helps ease many of these fears by outlining employee’s rights when their families are growing.

Under the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act, eligible, full-time, female employees are entitled to up to 8 weeks of unpaid leave when they are giving birth or adopting a child. To be eligible, an employee must have completed the employer’s initial probationary period, or have worked for the employer for at least 3 consecutive months if no probationary period exists. The employer must also have 6 or more employees.

How can you exercise your rights under the Massachusetts Maternity Act?

An employee who is having a baby or adopting a child must give at least 2 weeks’ notice prior to the anticipated departure date and 2 weeks’ notice before returning to the workplace in order to be eligible.

In addition to having the right to take up to 8 weeks leave, eligible employees also have the right to be restored to their previous position or be placed in a similar position to the one held prior to taking maternity leave. Similar positions are defined as those that have the same status, length of service credit, and seniority as the position the employer held prior to taking leave.

Are Fathers Eligible for Paternity Leave under the Massachusetts Maternity Act?

Although the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act specifically states that eligible employees must be female, employers in Massachusetts have often been advised to extend leave under the MMLA to fathers as well. In fact, in June 2008, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination released an official statement interpreting the Act to include fathers.

To be eligible to take paternity leave a father must meet all of the eligibility requirements under the MMLA.

If you have questions about maternity and paternity leave in Massachusetts, please contact an employment attorney.

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