Guide Absence and Leave Policies

Employees may qualify to use paid or unpaid leave time when they are absent from work on a short-term or long-term basis for a number of specific reasons.
State employees are eligible for a variety of paid and unpaid time from work. Waiting periods may apply. Benefits may vary depending on whether you are a bargaining unit employee or a manager.

Pregnant Workers Fairness Policy

Agencies of the Commonwealth are to provide accommodations to allow pregnant employees or prospective employees or those with conditions related to their pregnancy to perform the essential functions of their jobs.  In addition, Agencies will not discriminate against employees or prospective employees who are pregnant or have a condition related to pregnancy including, but not limited to, lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child.

Leave to Donate Blood, Bone Marrow, or an Organ

Blood Donation Leave

With prior supervisor approval, state employees may donate blood up to 5 times a year during their work shift between October 1 and September 30. We cover travel to and from the blood collection site, as well as time spent at the site donating and recovering under medical supervision..The maximum number of paid hours per donation is four hours, although it usually takes much less time than that to donate.

Do you know a single blood donation can save up to 3 lives? Give the gift of life by reading eligibility requirements on the Red Cross link provided below and donate red blood cells, double red cells, or platelets at the blood collection site of your choice.


External Resources

Bone Marrow Donation Leave

Based on language in the Human Resources Division (HRD) annual budget appropriation, Executive Department employees make take up to 5 paid days (not charged to personal, vacation, or sick time)  to donate bone marrow and recover from the donation.

Organ Donation Leave

Executive Department employees may take up to 30 paid work days per calendar year (not charged to  personal, vacation, or sick time) to donate an organ which includes preparation and recovery time.

External Resources

Leave for Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking

Paid and Unpaid Leave Benefits

Executive Department employees who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking may qualify for paid or unpaid leave.

Employees w(who are not the abuser) who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking or whose children are victims may be eligible to apply for the following benefits:

  • 15 paid days per calendar year (not charged to sick, vacation or personal leave) to participate in counseling, obtain medical treatment, attend legal proceedings, or carry out other necessary activities resulting from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
  • 6 months of unpaid leave with right upon return to work  to the same or equivalent position, with same benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment.  Employees in positions that were was eliminated during a leave due to a  layoff will not be reinstated.

Safeguarding Your Privacy

Protecting your Personal Information from being released

Employees who are victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking or adjudicated crimes (crimes that have been resolved through the courts system after an arrest has been made), may apply to have their name, address, and other personal information excluded from public records for their safety and protection.

Employees apply for coverage through a Payroll Exemption Policy Form and depending on the circumstances, may need to provide documentation to their agency which will be maintained in the strictest confidence.

Holiday, Personal, and Vacation Leave

Holiday Leave

Human Resources (HRD)  publishes a holiday schedule memo for Executive Department employees. There are special instructions in the memo which address what happens when a holiday falls on a weekend.

State Holidays

New Year's Day
Martin Luther King Day
President's Day
Patriots' Day
Memorial Day
Independence Day
Labor Day
Columbus Day
Veterans' Day
Thanksgiving Day
Christmas Day

Personal Leave

Three Personal Days** are awarded each calendar year

  • Employees "lose" any unused personal time during the last pay period of a year. Personal leave balances do not carry over from year to year.
  • In September each year, employees are notified how much "use or lose" time they need to use by the last pay period.
  • Employees who leave employment are not compensated for unused personal days.

** Some longer-term bargaining unit employees receive 5 personal days per calendar year per the union contract

Personal Days per Year

Start Date

Number of Days

January to March

3 days

April to June

2 days

July to September

1 day

October to December

0 days


Vacation Leave

  • Employees start earning vacation time after two weeks of employment.
  • Time off the payroll will result in reduced vacation accruals.
  • Employees can carry over one year's worth of unused vacation time to the next year.  Vacation time not used in that 2nd year is forfeited.
  • Each September employees are notified if they have any "use or lose" vacation time
  • Employees who leave employment are paid for  unused accrued vacation hours per state law.

Vacation Accrual  (Annual)

Years of Service

Managers and


Bargaining Unit


0 to 4.5 years

12 days

10 days

4.5 years to 9.5 years

15 days

15 days

9.5 years to 19.5 years

20 days

20 days

19.5 years +

25 days

25 days


Leave for Jury Duty, Voting, and Court Appearances

Jury (Civic) Duty Leave

Employees receive full regular pay when they are appear for jury duty for both state and federal courts. If the jury fee you receive from the court exceeds regular rate of compensation, you turn over the regular pay to your agency and keep any amount that exceeds your regular pay.

External Resources

Voting Leave

If a work schedule prevents Executive Department employees from voting in a town, city, state, or national election, they may ask their agency for advance written approval to use up to two paid hours (not charged to personal, vacation, or sick time) in order to vote.

Leave for Court Testimony

Managers and Confidential Employees who are summoned to appear as a witness for a government agency in a court case will receive their regular pay.  If they receive any witness fees they will return the fees to their agency.

Military Leave

Employees should provide their agency with a copy of their military orders as soon as they receive them.
50+ State employees are deployed FT in the military at any time

Executive Department employees serving in the military may qualify for paid or unpaid Military Leave.

The Commonwealth is proud to employ staff who are called to full-time active military duty as well as those serving as reservists in the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, or Marine Corps. 

Both state and federal law provide some protection to employees who are unable to work due to military service. These employees may qualify for paid leave as well as job protection during absence from work due to military service.  Leave could be full paid leave, unpaid leave, or partial pay leave so employee is "made whole" and earning what they would have been at their state job if not performing military service.


External Resources


Additional Resources for Military Leave

Sick Leave, Extended Illness Leave Bank (EILB), and Family and Medical Leave (FMLA)

Sick Leave

Sick Leave Accruals

  • Employees on a biweekly basis (totaling 15 days/year) and continue to accrue sick leave each year until the state service is ended.
  • Sick hours can be used for your own illness and for the illness of certain family members (see maximum amounts (usually 30 or 60 work days per calendar year) allowed in the collective bargaining agreements (CBAs)and Red Book.
  • Contract employees and intermittent employees who are not covered by the CBAs or Red Book accrue some limited leave time under the Massachusetts Earned Sick Leave law for every 30 minutes they work.
  • Your agency can request medical documentation when they suspect sick leave abuse, a pattern of absences, or absences that indicate you have protection under the FMLA. - Family and Medical Leave Act.
  • When you leave state service, you cannot cash out any sick leave. Your balance remains on your employee account which you can access if you return to state service within three years.
  • Executive Department employees who retire can cash out 20% of the value of their accrued sick leave.


External Resources

Extended Illness Leave Bank (EILB)

The EILB is a statewide bank administered by the Human Resources Division completely voluntary program that exists to help Executive Branch employees who experience an extended illness or injury to recover a portion of their salary that would otherwise be lost due to extended unpaid leaves of absence. It was created in 1995 Chapter 7, Section 4P, MGL and is also covered by EILB regulations. 

An Executive Branch who has at least 12 months of service and acceptable attendance may donate a day of leave time (sick, vacation, or personal leave) to a statewide "bank" every calendar year.  If the employee misses 20 consecutive work days, apply to "withdraw" if they become seriously ill or injured and have exhausted their paid leave. they may apply to the bank for paid EILB time for up to 120 paid workdays.    

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)


See separate FMLA Guide page


Leave for Volunteering for SERV, Red Cross Disaster Relief or National Medical Service

Red Cross Disaster Volunteer Leave

With agency approval, Executive department employees may receive up to 15 paid days per calendar year if called up by the American Red Cross to serve as a certified disaster volunteer to respond to emergency anywhere in the world. 

External Resources

SERV - Community Service, Mentoring and School Volunteer Leave

This volunteer leave is commonly  known as SERV (State Employees Responding as Volunteers).

Executive Department employees who have at least six months of service may apply to use up to 7.5 hours paid leave per month during regular work hours to volunteer at approved non-profits and local and federal government agencies in the following areas: education, youth mentoring, environment, health, human services, and public safety.

Use of the leave time is contingent upon your agency's approval given operational needs of your department.

External Resources

Volunteering with a Disaster Medical Team

National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) 

State employees may qualify for unpaid leave time to volunteer on a national Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) as specially trained medical and paramedical professionals  ready to deploy within 24 hours of notification that their service is needed for a large scale public health emergency.

There is no paid leave time to participate as a volunteer as these volunteers receive compensation from the federal government as a special employee.  However,I a state employee may use vacation or personal time while performing this volunteer work.I

Although this volunteering is NOT considered military service and does not qualify for military pay, an employee who does this volunteer work has some protection for their job and health insurance. Employees who are volunteering in this role are covered by USERRA (which requires job reinstatement upon returning from leave). See  the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services federal government site for more information.

Other Leave: Bereavement, Inclement Weather, and Small Necessities

Bereavement/Funeral Leave

Executive Department employees may qualify for paid leave time to attend a funeral of certain family members.

  • Upon the passing of an eligible family member, Executive department employees may qualify for 1 to 7 paid work days for mourning and attending services. These days are separate from vacation, personal, and sick days.
  • Employees should refer to their collective bargaining agreement (union contract) or Red Book for details on eligible family members, associated length of leave, and documentation requirements (if any)
  • Managers and Confidential Employees who are Veterans may receive paid leave to participate in funerals for other veterans when serving as a member of a firing squad, color detail, pallbearer, bugler or escort.

Inclement Weather Leave

State agencies designate each employee as either "Emergency Personnel" or "Non-Emergency Personnel." 

In case of inclement weather or another emergency,  Emergency Personnel will be required to report to their assigned work site as scheduled,due to the critical nature of their job functions. Emergency Personnel are generally charged with the care and custody of patients and/or prisoners or are responsible for the delivery of other critically important public services. Titles include State Trooper, Mental Health Worker, Developmental Disabilities Worker, and Correction Officer, among others.

Non-Emergency Personnel scheduled to work the day of an emergency but directed to not report to work or those impacted by a late start of early departure, will receive regular pay (i.e. weather leave  or "WEA" on timesheet) for their lost work hours.  This time will not be charged to personal, vacation, or sick time.

Small Necessities Leave

Executive Department employees are entitled to take unpaid time to attend meetings related to their child's education, routine and medical appointments for their child or elderly relative, or for meetings about elder care.

  • Employees may have the right to take up to 24 unpaid hours every 12 months for these purposes.
  • Employees may choose to use available leave time such as personal, vacation, or sick time, if the reasons for the Small Necessities Leave falls under one of these categories.
  • Employees should notify their state agency 7 calendar days in advance of the requested leave time. If it isn't feasible for employees to provide this amount of notice, they should notify their agency soon as possible.




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