“I am proud of the hard work of all of those involved in getting this legislation passed, which provides important protections for parents of both genders so that they may focus on establishing a life for their new child,” said Senator Jehlen. “The legislation protects both employees and employers through gender neutrality and transparency in job protection.”
An act relative to parental leave updates Massachusetts’ parental leave laws to reflect the evolution and current needs of modern families. The bill makes the parental leave law gender neutral, allowing for the parental leave statute to be available for both men and women. Employers who do not provide comparable leave to fathers may be violating constitutional rights to equal protection under the law. The legislation not only protects parents, but also protects employers because it remedies the current, unconstitutional nature of the law that risks violating the principle of equal protection.
Additionally, An act relative to parental leave requires employers to inform employees in writing prior to their parental leave, or at the time of making a request, if taking leave beyond 8 weeks would eliminate their right to return to work. Present law provides up to eight weeks of job-protected, unpaid parental leave. However, in some cases, employers verbally grant a worker more than eight weeks, even though the additional weeks are not job-protected. In one prominent case decided by the Supreme Judicial Court, Global NAPs, Inc. v. Awiszus, 457 Mass. 489 (2010), an employer granted a mother ten weeks of maternity leave, only to fire her after she came back to work because she was only legally protected for eight of those weeks. This kind of misleading and unfair treatment would be outlawed by the new legislation.
The legislation was strongly supported by the work of Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS), the AFL-CIO and Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM). You can see the full text of this bill by going to: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/188/Senate/S865.