The Expectant Employer: Understand Your Obligations for Maternity and Paternity Leave

June 18, 2012

At any given time, a female employee may approach you and share the wonderful news that she is pregnant. Similarly, a male employee may approach you with the news that he is going to be a father. While such news is usually well received, it also serves as notice that you, as the employer, should begin making preparations for your employee’s maternity or paternity leave. You must be mindful of both state and federal law.

The Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act

Under Massachusetts Law, the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (MMLA) applies to all businesses that employ six or more employees. As written by the Massachusetts Legislature, the MMLA is gender specific to females and provides 8 weeks of unpaid leave to full time female employees for purposes of giving birth, adopting a child under the age of 18, or adopting a child under the age of 23 who is mentally or physically disabled. The MMLA requires the employee to give her employer at least two weeks notice of her anticipated date of departure and intention to return. It should be noted that an employer cannot refuse to grant MMLA leave on the grounds that doing so would constitute a hardship.

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) is the state’s chief civil rights agency and is empowered with enforcing and overseeing the MMLA. As the chief enforcement agency, the MCAD has taken the position that the MMLA should be applied equally to both men and women despite it being gender specific. In doing so, ...

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by: Kevin V. Maltby

June 18, 2012

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