Massachusetts law about parental leave

Laws, regulations, cases and web sources about maternity and paternity leave and Paid Family Medical Leave in Massachusetts.

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Table of Contents

Best bet

Parental leave in Massachusetts, Mass. Commission Against Discrimination.
Lists employee rights and employer responsibilities regarding unpaid parental leave, with links to detailed guidelines. You do not need to apply for parental leave with the Massachusetts state government, but must provide notice to your employer. If you wish to apply for paid leave, please see our page on Paid Family Medical Leave.

Massachusetts law

MGL c. 149, § 105D Parental leave
Law applies to all parents, regardless of gender, whose employers have six or more employees. Under the law, parents are eligible for 8 weeks of leave per child. If both parents work for the same employer, they shall only be entitled to 8 weeks of leave in the aggregate for the birth or adoption of the same child. Leave may be with or without pay "at the discretion of the employer."

MGL c. 151B, § 4 Unlawful practices
An employer may not refuse to hire or discharge an employee because of pregnancy or conditions related to pregnancy. Pregnant employees may request reasonable accommodations at work.

MGL c. 175M Paid family medical leave (PFML)
Establishes a system for paid family leave of up to 12 weeks to care for a new child. Paid leave under this law became available beginning January 1, 2021.

Massachusetts regulations

458 CMR Dept. of Family and Medical Leave
Clarifies procedures, practices, and policies in the administration and enforcement of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Law, M.G.L. c. 175M.

804 CMR 8.00 MCAD maternity leave
Defines terms in maternity leave law. This regulation has not been revised since the law was changed to include all parents regardless of gender. 

Massachusetts administrative decisions

Ackerman v. Schwartz, 26 MDLR 18 (2004)
Employee established discrimination based on her pregnancy after employer made disparaging comments about her pregnancy, expressed concern about her ability to perform her job, and reduced her employee status from salaried to hourly after a brief absence due to medical complications, and finally terminated her employment. The MCAD found little to no evidence of tardiness, loss of business, or other reasons to reduce employee's status or terminate her employment.

Selected cases

Global NAPS, Inc. v. Martha Awiszus, 457 Mass. 489 (2010)
Female employee was not entitled to the protections of the [previously named] Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act because she was absent from work for longer than eight weeks. While the employee might have had other rights that protected her from unlawful termination, the only claim she asserted was one under MGL c. 149, § 105D.

Web sources

Guidance on the pregnant workers fairness act, Mass. Commission Against Discrimination, 2018.
Includes specific guidelines and questions and answers on Chapter 54 of the Acts and Resolves of 2017, effective April 1, 2018.

Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits for employees, Mass. Dept. of Family and Medical Leave. 
A comprehensive webpage including an overview, explanation of benefits, and how to apply for the Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program for people who work in Massachusetts.

Paid Family and Medical Leave employer toolkit, Mass. Dept. of Family and Medical Leave.
Guide for employers regarding Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) benefits.

PFML: About family leave to bond with a child, Mass. Dept. of Family and Medical Leave.
Includes eligibility, different ways you can take your leave, and how to apply to your employer for parental leave.

Print sources

Construction law, Lewin and Eisenberg, West, 2022, Section 10:99.
Explains the Parental Leave law and Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) and how they can work together. 

Employment discrimination in Massachusetts, MCLE, 2024, Chapter 5: Pregnancy Discrimination.

Employment law, Adkins et al., West, 2022, Section 16:15.

Labor and employment in Massachusetts, Hirsch, 2021, Section 4-4(b).

Contact   for Massachusetts law about parental leave

Last updated: June 13, 2024

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