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Effective April 7, 2015, the Parental Leave Act (PLA) will replace the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (MMLA) which extends parental leave to male employees. Currently the MMLA requires employers with six or more employees to provide eight weeks of job-protected leave to eligible female employees for the birth or adoption of a child. The new law extends the eight weeks of unpaid leave to both male and female employees to care for a newborn, newly placed, or newly adopted child.

Key features of the PLA include the following provisions:

  • Covers employees who have a child placed with them pursuant to a court order;
  • Two employees of the same employer shall only be entitled to a total of eight weeks of parental leave;
  • If an employer requires an employee to complete an initial probationary period as a term of employment, the period cannot exceed three months for purposes of eligibility under the parental leave act;
  • An employee is allowed to provide notice “as soon as practicable if the delay is for reasons beyond the individual’s control,” rather than the previous requirement of at least two weeks’ notice.
  • The leave can be either paid or unpaid, at the discretion of the employer.

The PLA does not change the protected nature of the parental leave. Employers must restore the employee to his or her previous, or a similar, position with the same skills, pay, length of service credit and seniority as of the date of the leave. In addition, parental leave shall 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 more information about Massachusett’s Parental Leave Act, please visit https://malegislature.gov/Bills/188/Senate/S865.

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