Joyce's parental leave bill headed to the Senate

Legislation sponsored by Senators Brian A. Joyce, Mark C. Montigny, and Susan C. Fargo that will ensure equality for parental leaves in Massachusetts has been reported favorably by the Senate Committee on Ways & Means and is expected to pass the full Massachusetts Senate this week. The legislation is designed to strengthen families across the Commonwealth by allowing fathers access to state parental leave, and extends equal employer benefits to both employees on leave for the birth of a child and to employees on leave for the adoption of a child.

Currently, the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (MMLA) requires covered Massachusetts employers (six or more employees) to provide no fewer than eight weeks of unpaid leave to eligible female employees for the purpose of giving birth or adopting a child under the age of 18 (age 23 if the child is disabled). While the MMLA provides maternity leave to female employees only, in many instances men are the primary caregivers. The aim of this bill is to provide both men and women the equal opportunity to take the same amount of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child. The bill has the support of the MA Commission Against Discrimination.

“It is time that we update our laws to reflect changes in our society and in our families,” said Senator Joyce. “This bill is reasonable and fair, in that all families are treated equally." Neighboring states, such as Rhode Island, Vermont and Connecticut have already enacted such legislation. Eight other states have similar initiatives in place.