Massachusetts Maternity Leave: Your Rights and Overview


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In 2018, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed the new Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (MA PFML) into law. The law went into effect on January 1, 2019. However, funding doesn’t begin until July 2019 and benefits do not begin until January 1, 2021. MA PMFL will grant up to 12 weeks of paid family leave to new parents — moms and dads. It will also provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a family member (up to 26 weeks if their health condition resulted from active duty in the military) and up to 20 weeks to care for yourself. Postpartum recovery can count as caring for oneself, making it possible for new moms with medical complications to add time to the state-granted 12 weeks of family leave. 

Please note that while we are not attorneys, we've summarized what we could find from publicly available sources regarding your leave rights as a MA employee.

How many weeks of paid maternity leave do I get with MA PMFL?

The law provides for up to 12 weeks of paid family leave to new parents. 

How much will I be paid?

Under MA PMFL, employees receive 80 percent of their average weekly wages, up to one-half of the state’s average weekly wage ($1,338.05 in 2018, making 50 percent $669). If you make more than $669, eligible employees will receive one half of their average weekly wages after the $669, in addition to the $669. This can equal up to $850 per week. 

Can I take leave for something other than a new baby?

Yes; eligible parties can also take up to 12 weeks of leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition and up to 26 weeks to care for a family member whose condition arose from active military service. 

How do I qualify for MA PMFL?

People who work in Massachusetts — even if they live in other states — may be qualified for MA PMFL.  

Is my spouse eligible for MA PMFL?

All new parents may be eligible for MA PMFL.

Do I need to use MA PMFL all at once?

MA PFML leave can be used intermittently. 

Do I get paid leave if I foster, adopt or use a surrogate?

Yes. MA PFML applies to all new parents. 

Is leave pay taxed?

The law did not address whether leave payments will be taxed by the state of Massachusetts. It is likely that this information will be clarified in 2019. 

What do I have to do to get paid? How am I paid?

It is projected that by April 2019, the State of Massachusetts will have established a new Department of Family and Medical Leave. This department will host a website with online tools to sign up for MA PMFL and to choose payment options. Currently, these tools are unavailable. 

Are there annual or lifetime caps on the benefit?

You can use MA PMFL an unlimited number of times in your lifetime. There is an cap of $850 per week for 26 weeks within one calendar year. 

Do I still receive my employer benefits while I’m on leave?


Can I lose my job while on leave?

No. Under MA PMFL, you cannot be fired while on leave, and employees are protected from unlawful retaliation for using their leave for six months after they go back to work. This applies no matter how many employees your company has.

Can I combine MA PFML and my company’s leave benefits to receive 100 percent of my salary?

Employers are not required to provide wages beyond the MA PFML paid leave, but some do choose to give employees an additional salary on top of their state-granted wage replacement pay. Ask your employer for more information on company policies. 

Can I combine MA PFML and my company’s leave to get more weeks of maternity leave?

Employers are not required to provide more time off than the MA PFML does, but some do choose to give employees additional time. Ask your employer for more information on company policies. 

Where can I get more information?

The state of Massachusetts offers more information on the MA PFML here

Until 2021, the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (or MMLA) grants qualifying Massachusetts up to 8 weeks of job-protected leave for the birth or adoption of a child under the age of 18.

How many weeks of paid maternity leave do I get with MA MMLA?

MA MMLA grants up to 8 weeks of job-protected leave. 

How much will I be paid?

MA MMLA does not guarantee pay. 

How do I qualify for maternity leave under MMLA?

If you have worked at a company with at least 6 employees for at least three consecutive months as a full-time employee or exceeded your probationary period (if such a period exists at your employer) which can be less but cannot be longer than three months, you are eligible for MMLA.

Can my spouse or partner qualify for MMLA?

Recent amendments (in 2015) to MMLA make fathers and non-birth parents eligible for parental leave. However, if you work for the same employer as the other parent of the child, then the maximum amount of leave (i.e. 8 weeks) must be shared by both employees.

What are the notice requirements for MMLA?

You must tell your employer at least two weeks in advance of your intended leave start date and intended date of return. If you cannot for some reason do this, e.g. due to an emergency and unforeseen early birth, you can simply tell your employer as soon as practical.

How to request maternity leave

While your notice of maternity leave may come in the form of a request out of courtesy, an employer cannot deny you maternity leave if you are legally entitled to take it and have provided two weeks of notice and your intended date of return.

You can make your request verbally, but it is best to put your request in timestamped writing (in the form of an email or electronic note) using clear language that specifies the reason for leave. 

Your request should include the following information: 

  • The time you are planning to take leave. 
  • The expected duration of your leave. 
  • Your intended date of return. 

Facts that make your employer aware that you require family leave or pregnancy disability leave. 

It is also wise to provide relevant information about your situation that can help your employer transition you in and out of leave. This could include what duties you are expecting to have covered for you during leave.

What if I qualify for FMLA and MMLA?

FMLA is a federal law requiring that eligible employees are provided with up to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave to bond and care for a new baby or adopted child. However, approximately 40% of employees do not qualify for FMLA due to working for a small employer or otherwise not meeting tenure requirements (e.g. you must have worked at least 1,250 hours for the employer in the 12 months prior to your leave).

However, just because you don’t qualify for FMLA does not mean you cannot take advantage of MMLA. Some employees will find they qualify for both FMLA and MMLA. If that describes your situation, you may use FMLA in lieu of MMLA, as both run concurrently.

Can I lose my job while I’m on leave? Do I still receive my benefits?

You have the right to be restored to your previous (or similar) position with the same pay, benefits, advancement, benefits or other rights you previously had. The seniority and benefits you would have received had you not taken parental leave must not be affected simply because you have taken parental leave. Moreover, if your employer voluntarily grants you additional leave (beyond the 8 weeks), then they must also follow the same benefits and job-restoration rules had you simply taken the 8 weeks you were entitled to.

Special Provisions for Boston City Employees and Other Public Sector Employees

The City of Boston, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office and the Massachusetts Treasurer’s office have all offered paid leave to their employees who have become parents. In Boston, city employees will receive up to to 6 weeks of paid leave during the first year after the birth or adoption of a child. The pay they receive is based on a sliding scale of how much time they get off and is pegged to their salary. Employees are paid at their full salary for the first two weeks of their leave, followed by 75% for the third and fourth weeks of their leave and 50% of their salary for the final two weeks of their 6 week leave period. To be eligible, city employees must have worked for Boston for at least one year.

At the Treasurer’s Office, you will receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave for a birth, adoption or care of a foster child. You will also get up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave. To qualify, you must have worked for at least 6 months. At the Attorney General’s office, you will receive 30 days of full paid leave within the first 12 months of a child’s birth, adoption or placement in your care of a foster child. You must have worked at least 3 months for the Attorney General in order to qualify. In both offices, men and women both qualify.

If you work for the state of Massachusetts (other than the Attorney General’s Office of Treasurer’s Office), then you will use MMLA.

What if I have other questions?

Please review the Massachusetts State Maternity Leave Guidelines.


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