Massachusetts Leave Laws
In Massachusetts, an employer is not required to provide its employees with vacation benefits, either paid or unpaid. MA Off. of Labor FAQs. If an employer chooses to provide such benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.
The rollover policy
- Statutory Provisions Addressing Vacation Pay
Paid vacation time is considered wages. Employers must compensate employees for earned vacation time. (Mass. Gen. Law. ch. 149, § 148.)
- Use-It-or-Lose-It Policy
Not prohibited, but employers must give employees:
Adequate notice of the policy.
Enough time to use the accumulated vacation time before the employer’s cut-off date.
Employers may also place a cap on vacation accrual.
(Elec. Data Sys. Corp. v. Att’y Gen., 907 N.E.2d 635 (Mass. 2009).)
- Payment of Accrued Vacation on Termination
An employer must pay terminating employees all earned, unused vacation.
Vacation and PTO (Paid Time Off)
If employers offer vacation to their employees, they have to meet the requirements under the Massachusetts Wage Act. According to the Act, vacation time is considered wages.
Maternity, Paternity, FMLA
In addition to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Massachusetts has the following laws regarding Maternity and Paternity Leave:
The Massachusetts Parental Leave Act applies to all employers with 6 or more employees. It requires employers to provide both women and men with up to 8 weeks of unpaid parental leave for the following purposes:
- giving birth or
- for the placement of a child under the age of 18 (or under the age of 23 if the child is mentally or physically disabled) for adoption.
Employees are eligible for leave if they finished the probation time of no more than three months or if the employee works full-time for at least three consecutive months.
Employees are required to provide at least two weeks’ notice prior to leave.
Employees on parental leave for adoption are entitled to the same benefits provided for employees on birth leave.
If both parents work for the same company, the employer may allow a total sum of 8 weeks for both parents. Not each.
If the employer allows extending the leave for more than 8 weeks, then the employer is required to provide reinstatement rights unless the denial of reinstatement due to an extension of leave is communicated in writing prior to leave.
All employers are required to provide unpaid sick leave, exceptions are local governments and employers with less than 11 employees.
All employees are eligible for sick leave.
Employers are required to give 1 hour of sick leave for 30 hours worked up to 40 hours. There is an alternative lump sum amount requiring 8 hours per month for 5 months if an employee works 37.5 hours or more per month.
Employees are allowed to use a maximum of 40 hours of paid sick leave per year.
Sick leave covers the following reasons:
Employee’s or a family member’s illness, injury or condition; preventive care; maternity or paternity leave; reasons related to domestic violence.
Jury Duty Leave
Employers are required to provide employees with paid leave. Employers must pay employees their regular wages for the first three days of the employee’s service as a juror. Each self-employed juror is responsible for compensating himself for the first three days of juror service.
No federal or state law require an employer to provide the employee with paid or unpaid bereavement leave or with any time off to organize or attend a close family member’s funeral.
All employers in any manufacturing, mechanical, or mercantile establishment must provide employees with up to two hours of voting leave.
Employees must provide notice prior to their leave, but the statute does not specify how much notice must be given.
In addition to USERRA, Massachusetts law provides protection against discrimination for all members and job protection for veterans who want to take part in activities such as Veterans Day or Memorial Day events.
Employers with 50 or more employees must provide paid leave for eligible veterans.
Please consult your local legal counsel to learn more about Massachusetts Leave Laws.
To learn more about laws in various countries, check out our Leave Laws page.