The Massachusetts Attorney General recently issued an Advisory regarding the new Domestic Violence Leave Act, which was passed on August 8, 2014. The Advisory helped to clarify some of the requirements of the Act:

  • Because the Act broadly states that it applies to employers with 50 or more employees, it was previously unclear whether the employees had to be located in Massachusetts for the Act to apply. Now, the Advisory clarifies that the Act only applies to employers with 50 or more employees in Massachusetts.
  • The Act requires employers to notify employees of their rights and responsibilities under the law. The Advisory clarifies that there is no mandatory form of notice and lists several possible methods. Notification may include describing the new Act in: manuals given to new employees, existing employee handbooks, a memo to employees, a letter or email to employees, and/or a public posting in the same manner as required of wage and hour postings.

While the guidance did clarify some provisions, other questions regarding the law’s application remain unanswered. For instance:

  • It remains unclear whether an employer is required to provide intermittent leave.
  • The Act establishes that an employee may take up to 15 days of leave in any 12-month period. However, it is unclear whether the 12-month period is a rolling 12 months, or a fixed 12-month period.
  • The Advisory does not address whether an employer may designate the domestic violence leave to run concurrently with other leave, such as under the Family and Medical Leave Act, if the absence could qualify under more than one statute.

As clarifications regarding requirements for this Act continue to develop, Massachusetts employers who may be covered should speak to counsel to ensure they are in compliance.