What are My Options for Taking Job-Protected Leave in Massachusetts?


(Last Updated On: April 22, 2024)

What are My Options for Taking Job-Protected Leave in Massachusetts?

Has a medical or family issue come up that requires you to find out about your eligibility for taking job-protected leave? In the course of employment, many Massachusetts workers realize that they need to take time off to attend to their own healthcare situations, provide care for a family member who is seriously ill, or go through childbirth or an adoption process. Generally speaking, Massachusetts employees may be eligible to take job-protected, and sometimes paid, leave under the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave (PMFL) law and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  

If you know that you will need time off and want to find out about your options, or if your employer has taken adverse action against you for exercising your rights under the PMFL or FMLA, it is essential to get in touch with a Boston, Massachusetts employment law attorney who can assist you. In the meantime, we can provide you with information about general options for taking job-protected leave and when you should speak to an attorney about potential violations of state or federal law. 

Paid Family Medical Leave (PMFL) Under Massachusetts State Law 

PMFL is a Massachusetts law that allows certain employees to take up to 26 weeks of paid family leave for a qualifying reason, although the amount of available leave depends on the qualifying reason. Qualifying reasons include: 

  • Your own serious health condition (up to 20 weeks); 
  • Providing care for a family member with a serious health condition (up to 12 weeks); 
  • Child bonding in the 12 months after giving birth, adopting, or foster placement (up to 12 weeks); 
  • Providing care for a family member injured in the military (up to 26 weeks); or 
  • Attending to an active-duty family member’s affairs (up to 12 weeks). 

Most Massachusetts employees are eligible if they have earned a sufficient amount of income over the last four quarters. 

Unpaid Job-Protected Leave Under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) 

The FMLA provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave from your workplace for the same qualifying reasons listed above for PMFL leave in Massachusetts. In order to qualify for FMLA leave, the following must be true: 

  • You work for a covered employer (a covered employer is a public employer, or a private employer with 50 or more employees in a 75-mile radius); 
  • You have worked for your covered employer for at least one year; and 
  • You have worked at least 1,250 hours during the last year.

To take FMLA or PMFL leave, you must provide notice to your employer. If you are denied leave, or if you face retaliation of any type for making a request or providing notice, a lawyer can help. What is retaliation? Our employment attorneys can explain in more detail.

Retaliation and Employee Rights and the PMFL and FMLA 

An employer cannot retaliate against you for submitting notice for job-protected or paid leave under the PMFL or FMLA, or for taking leave. What this means is that you cannot be terminated for requesting or taking leave, and you cannot be subject to any adverse actions as a result of your decision to request or take leave under the PMFL or FMLA. 

In addition to wrongful termination, adverse actions that may be unlawful include but are not limited to: 

  • Demoting you; 
  • Denying you a raise or benefits when other employees in the same position have received the raise or benefits; 
  • Changing your hours or worksite to something less desirable; 
  • Denying you the opportunity to attend work-related events or other career-building opportunities that are made available to other employees; or 
  • Refusing to promote you. 

It is important to understand that some of the above actions may not constitute retaliation, even when they occur in the aftermath of an employee requesting PMFL or FMLA leave, or taking leave under state or federal law. When one of the adverse actions is done in response to the employee’s leave, however, then the employee may have a retaliation claim. It is essential to have a Massachusetts employment attorney assess your case. 

Contact a Massachusetts Employment Law Attorney Serving Clients in Boston and Newton 

Leave laws are in place to ensure that employees in Massachusetts and throughout the country have the ability to take job-protected leave for important health-related and family reasons. Whether you need assistance determining your eligibility, or you need help addressing a PMFL or FMLA violation in your workplace or retaliation because you took leave, a lawyer can help you. The Boston employment law attorneys at our firm represent employees in a wide range of legal matters, including discrimination and retaliation claims, wrongful termination claims, and more. Contact Rodman Employment Law today to learn more about how we can assist you with the legal issue you are facing concerning job-protected leave in Massachusetts.

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