Massachusetts employees gain access to paid family and medical leave benefits on Jan. 1.
Specifically, the state program entitles Bay Staters to take up to 26 weeks of paid leave in a benefit year for serious medical and/or family reasons.
Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Law was signed into law in June 2018 and was among the so-called “grand bargain” items. It established not only the paid family and medical leave but also the Department of Family and Medical Leave.
Specifically, the state benefits program will be some of the most generous and progressive in country, joining states with government-run paid family and medical leave in place: California, Rhode Island, New Jersey, New York and Washington. Like Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, Connecticut and Oregon are implementing paid family and medical leave in the new year.
In Massachusetts, beginning on Jan. 1, 2021:
- Covered individuals may be entitled to up to 20 weeks of paid medical leave in a benefit year if they have a serious health condition that incapacitates them from work.
- Covered individuals may be entitled to up to 12 weeks of paid family leave in a benefit year related to the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child, or because of a qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that a family member is on active duty or has been notified of an impending call to active duty in the Armed Forces.
- Covered individuals may be entitled to up to 26 weeks of paid family leave in a benefit year to care for a family member who is a covered service member with a serious health condition.
The United States Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees workers with a federal entitlement to unpaid family and medical leave for narrowly defined medical needs and family care giving.
However, a federal law mandating private-sector employers to provide paid family and medical leave exists. Such benefits, however, can be supplied by private employer on a voluntarily basis.
Congresswoman Katherine Clark has said federal lawmakers know that a deep need for paid family and medical leave exists, and the coronavirus pandemic has only underscored its need alongside other social and economic policy needs.
“Paid family and medical leave is foundational if we want to have a just and fair economy,” said Clark. “The pandemic has exposed so many inequities we knew were there, and one of the primary inequities is that our economy isn’t built to support the success of families.”
Clark praised Massachusetts’ passage of this legislation and said it represents an important step, but there is much more to be done.
“This is a recognition that we want to make sure we are building a fair economy and opportunity for all in the commonwealth," said Clark, “but there are more than 32 million people in the country who did not have access to a single paid sick day this year, and we’ve seen that play out in this pandemic in a lethal way for low-income communities."
Original story here.