United States: The Expanding Leave Entitlements Of Massachusetts Employees

Massachusetts employers may be thinking at this point that score cards are needed to keep up with the ever-increasing varieties of leave to which their employees are entitled.

In the last year alone, the Commonwealth enacted or revised laws relating to parental (rather than exclusively maternal) leave, sick leave, and domestic abuse leave. The three newer laws join eight older sets of leave law previously established by federal and state statute, with the result that every private sector employer in Massachusetts now has to allow at least seven types of employee leave, an employer with six or more employees has to allow an eighth type of leave, and an employer with fifty or more employees has to allow yet a ninth and a tenth type.

The rules governing that maze can be complex. Each set of rules begins with its own statute. Regulations interpreting some of the statutes are voluminous. And yet sanctions for employer noncompliance can be severe. There often is no substitute for closely analyzing an employee's particular circumstances to determine how they fit within the overall legal framework of leave. The advice of experienced employment counsel therefore can be critical.

Massachusetts employers nevertheless may find the following survey chart useful as a starting point for ensuring that their leave policies are adequate.  

Source of leave entitlement

Number of employees required to trigger leave entitlement

Authorized reasons for leave

Criteria to be met by employee to qualify for leave

Amount of leave authorized

Paid leave required?

Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq.; 29 C.F.R. Part 825. 

50 within 75 miles of employee's worksite.

Birth, placement of child for adoption or foster care, employee's or family member's serious health condition, military exigency for servicemember in family, serious injury or illness of servicemember in family. 

12 months employment; 1250 hours service during immediately preceding 12 month period.

Up to 12 workweeks normally, but up to 26 workweeks for care of family servicemember's injury or illness. 


Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act, 38 U.S.C. § 4301 et seq.; 29 C.F.R. Part 1002.


Voluntary or involuntary duty in "the uniformed services" (i.e., the Armed Forces, National Guard, Air National Guard, commissioned corps of National Health Service, or any other category of persons designated in war or national emergency).

Duty in "the uniformed services." (Right to be reinstated in civilian position requires satisfying additional criteria.)

Up to 5 years or more.


Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law, M.G.L. c, 149, § 148C; 940 C.M.R. 33.00. (Statute takes effect July 1, 2015.)

1 for unpaid leave; 11 for paid leave.

Care for sickness or illness of employee or certain family members; attend routine medical appointments of employee or family member; address effects of domestic violence on employee or employee's child.

Primary place of work in Massachusetts. (Leave begins to accrue when work begins and can be taken 90 days later.)

Up to 40 hours per year in addition to leave required by other laws. (Leave accrues at rate of 1 hour of leave for every 30 hours of work.)

Yes, if employer has 11 or more employees; otherwise, no.

Massachusetts Parental Leave Act, M.G.L. c. 149, § 105D

6 in general, but only 1 if employee is domestic worker.

Birth or adoption.

Full-time employment for at least 3 months or completion of initial probationary period set by terms of employment, not to exceed 3 months.

8 weeks per child.


Massachusetts Domestic Violence and Abusive Situation Leave Act, M.G.L. c. 149, § 52E


Pursue medical attention, counseling, victim services, legal assistance, housing procurement, court or grand jury appearance, district attorney meeting, or other activity required as a result of domestic violence or abuse.

Be a paid employee personally victimized by abusive behavior, or be a paid employee with a family member victimized by abusive behavior, but not be perpetrator of the abusive behavior.

Up to 15 days in any 12 month period (in addition to all other forms of leave).


Massachusetts Small Necessities Leave Act, M.G.L. c. 149, § 52D.

50 within 75 miles of employee's worksite.

Participate in child's school activities, accompany child to routine medical or dental appointments, accompany elderly relatives to routine medical, dental, or other professional services appointments.

12 months employment; 1250 hours service during immediately preceding 12 month period.

Up to 24 hours in any 12 month period (in addition to leave provided under the FMLA).


Massachusetts Leave of Absence for Voting Statute, M.G.L. c. 149, § 178


Vote in election.

Be entitled to vote and ask for leave.

2 hours after the opening of the polls.


Massachusetts Leave for Military Training Law, M.G.L. c. 149, § 52A.


Military training.

Be a non-temporary employee receiving military training as a member of the ready reserve of the armed forces.

Up to 17 days in any calendar year.


Massachusetts Veterans or Memorial Day Leave Law, M.G.L. c, 149, § 52A½.


Participate in Veterans Day or Memorial Day exercise, parade or service.

Be a veteran who wants to participate in a Veterans Day or Memorial Day exercise, parade or service, but not be an employee whose services are essential to (a) public health or safety and (b) safety and security of the employer or the employer's property.

"Sufficient time to participate" in Veterans or Memorial Day activities.


Massachusetts Jury Service Law, M.G.L. c. 234A, §§ 48-49, 60-61; M.G.L. c. 268, §14A.


Serve as juror or grand juror.

Be notified of jury or grand jury duty.


Yes, for first 3 days only (unless court excuses payment).

Massachusetts Witness in Criminal Actions Law, M.G.L. c. 268, § 14B.


Testify in criminal trial.

Be a victim of a crime or be subpoenaed to attend a criminal action as a witness.



Originally published June 17, 2015

This update is for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any specific facts or circumstances. Under the rules of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, this material may be considered as advertising.

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