A bill that will allow Massachusetts parental leave laws to be applicable to both men and women has finally become law after being passed unanimously on the last day of the legislative session. Outgoing Governor Deval Patrick signed the bill into law on the day prior to his leaving office on January 7, 2015.
Previously, Massachusetts Maternity leave only applied job protection to women after the birth or adoption of a child. Although men are covered for bonding with a child under the FMLA, if they have worked for at least 12 months and 1250 hours, only employers with at least 50 employees need comply. This left many men who worked for small companies unable to stay home with their newborn children: Simply unfortunate for dad, baby and recovering mom. Massachusetts Maternity, now likely to be Massachusetts Parental Leave, is applicable to all employers who employ 6 or more employees and entitles them to 8 weeks of unpaid leave.
“The law will now reflect what has been true in the state for a long time: that both men and women can act as breadwinners in families and primary caregivers for children,” said Senator Brian A. Joyce, a cosponsor of the bill.
Senator Joyce makes a valid point, and while not disagreeing, I tend to think that regardless of who the breadwinner is, having the ability for both parents to bond with their newborn child is paramount. This is a major win for the people of Massachusetts.
Where the United States is the only high income country to not offer paid parental leave, let’s hope we’ll be cheering about that soon!