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Massachusetts Reforms Employment Laws to Include Generous Paid Family Leave Program

On June 28, 2018, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill reforming several employment laws and creates one of the most employee-generous paid family and medical leave programs in the country. The program, which will be funded by a combination of payroll deductions and employer contributions, guarantees up to 26 weeks of paid leave for current and some former employees, and allows self-employed contractors to opt into the program. Effective January 1, 2021, this program also includes generous reinstatement rights as employees are entitled to be restored to an equivalent position with the same status, pay, employment benefits, length-of-service credit and seniority as the date they went on leave. “Massachusetts seems to be competing against New York for the title of ‘Most Generous Paid Family Leave Program’,” says Courtney Blanchard, an employment attorney at Nilan Johnson Lewis who advises employers in Minnesota, and around the country, about paid family leave laws. The new Massachusetts package of employment laws will also increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour over five years, phase out mandatory premium pay on Sundays and holidays during this five-year period and establish several sales-tax holidays. Massachusetts joins several other states and cities with paid family and medical leave programs that are currently, or soon to be, in effect. This includes Washington, New Jersey, California, New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. Rhode Island and Hawaii also provide, to some extent, paid parental leave as part of the state disability insurance program. “Employers operating in these locations should ensure that they are complying with payroll deduction and contribution requirements, provide proper notification to employees, and comply with any reinstatement obligations,” adds Blanchard. To speak with Courtney Blanchard about creating compliant sick leave policies across the country, contact her at or 612.305.7732.

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