(Last Updated On: May 26, 2023)
Businesses are constantly changing and the size of your team is a key part of that evolution. If your enterprise has moved past its early days and you’re gradually hiring more staff, it’s important to remain compliant with MA employment law. In our previous installments, we discussed laws that go into effect once you hire your first and second employees. The next milestone for employment laws occurs when you bring your sixth team member on board and two additional laws impact your business.
1. Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act
The first law businesses growing beyond 5 employees must be aware of is the Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act. This prohibits sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Here are the kinds of discrimination prohibited by the state law:
- National origin
- Gender identity
- Sexual orientation
- Genetic information
- Pregnancy or a condition related to said pregnancy (including, but not limited to, lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child)
- Ancestry or status as a veteran of any individual
There are two practical outcomes of this act. For starters, MA employers should adopt a sexual harassment policy that protects workers from threats, retaliation, intimidation, and coercion.
Secondly, it is important for employers to promote and enforce a positive and safe environment for all staff. This means that each employer has a legal obligation to maintain a workplace free from discrimination harassment. Harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, offensive comments, and other forms of badgering that create a hostile work environment. Discrimination can take many forms, but the most important thing to remember is that employers cannot make decisions about an employee’s employment relationship based on their membership in a protected class (i.e., age, race, color, etc.).
2. Parental Leave
When you have a team of six or more employees, you become subject to the parental leave law. Massachusetts employees who meet certain criteria are eligible for eight weeks of unpaid parental leave at the time of birth or adoptive placement of a child. To be eligible, a full-time employee must have completed the initial probationary period set by the employer. This period may be no longer than six months and will be applied at three months if no period is specified.
To initiate the parental leave period, an employee must provide two weeks’ notice of their expected departure date and intention to return. If both parents work for the same employer, the parents are entitled to eight weeks’ total leave. Note that the Paid Family Medical Leave Act may also impact an employee’s rights to parental leave, so be sure to crosscheck both laws.
Plug Into Professional Insights When You Hire an MA Employment Law Firm
As a business owner, you have so many roles and tasks to juggle. Don’t let the hustle and bustle of your business’s advancement cause you to neglect updating your policies and handbooks to comply with MA employment law. Call us at 617-820-5250 if you need legal support as you revise your business’s internal documents and procedures to ensure that your employee’s rights are protected at every stage of your enterprise’s expansion.