Q: I am expecting in September, 2020. I live and work in Massachusetts. My company is a start-up in Cambridge with about 35 employees. I am about to share this information with my employer. Although overwhelming, I am expecting twins. My company has a policy that says that I should be able to take 4 weeks off. Four weeks seems short to me. Is four weeks the norm in smaller companies? Please advise.
A: Congratulations! You have provided some helpful information, which will allow me to share some very specific information.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has a law called Parental Leave. It was formerly known as Maternity Leave. Now it is gender neutral. This law requires employers to provide eight weeks of leave to most employees for the birth or adoption of a child.
Not every employee is eligible for this leave, but it sounds like you are eligible. You will have completed your orientation period (which cannot exceed three months) by September, 2020. This law applies to employers with six or more employees. Additionally, you are required to give at least two weeks’ notice of your anticipated date of leave and also state that you intend to return to your company. Your employer must summarize this law in a poster, placed in a conspicuous place in the workplace. There is one detail that is important in the information that you shared: twins! Because you are having twins, the leave requirement is double the typical leave period. You are eligible for 16 weeks.
I am not sure if your company may be sharing dated information. Perhaps once they were under the six-employee threshold and they had four-week leave policy for new parents. Many employers, who have fewer than six employees, offer leave greater than four weeks (though not legally required).
A few additional pieces of information. If your employer falls under the 50-employee threshold, you would not be entitled to leave options under the Family and Medical Leave Act. The Massachusetts Parental Leave does not require your time off to be paid. However, you will likely qualify for some time under the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time law. You should also ask your employer if they offer short-term disability, as you would likely qualify for this benefit as well. Additionally, you can take vacation or personal time during your leave.
Visit https://www.mass.gov/service-details/parental-leave-in-massachusetts for more information about the Massachusetts Parental Leave Act. Also, a lesser known law in Massachusetts, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act may also be applicable. Visit https://www.mass.gov/service-details/mcad-guidance-on-the-pregnant-workers-fairness-act for more information about that law.
Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.