Massachusetts doesn't have a law giving workers extra protections beyond the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), except for a few situations:

  • Most workers have a right to maternity leave.
  • Some workers have a right to time off to take a child or elder to appointments.
  • Some public workers have a right to paid time off for organ and blood donation.
  • MATERNITY LEAVE -- Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act

    Full-time women workers have a right to 8 weeks of unpaid maternity leave if:

    • they work for any employer with 6 employees (only private, non-profit social or fraternal organizations are not covered)
    • they have finished their probationary period
      • only the probationary period when a worker first starts working at the employer counts
      • if there is no probationary period, workers have worked for 3 months
      • the probationary period cannot be longer than 6 months

    The rules for maternity leave include:

    • You can take the leave to give birth or adopt a child (under 18 years old or under 23 if disabled).
    • You have to tell your boss at least 2 weeks ahead of time about when you expect to leave and return.
    • You decide when to start your leave and when to come back.
    • You can use accrued vacation, personal, and sick time during your maternity leave. Your boss can’t make you use paid vacation or sick time if you don’t want to (even if it’s required for other kinds of leave).
    • Your boss can’t refuse to give you leave because it would cause a business hardship.
    • Your boss doesn’t have to continue your health benefits while you’re on leave.
    • After maternity leave, you have a right to go back to your old, or a similar, job.
    • If you have twins, you have a right to 2 leaves (16 weeks).

    When workers are also eligible for leave under federal FMLA, FMLA and MMLA run at the same time (you can’t take 8 weeks maternity and then 12 weeks FMLA leave for a total of 20 weeks off). But, if you take maternity leave and then have a different family or medical situation, you can still take FMLA leave. The right to 8 weeks for maternity is absolute – if you used FMLA for some other situation, you still have a right to 8 weeks of maternity leave. If you take 12 weeks FMLA (if you are eligible) while you are pregnant (for example, if you have to go on bed rest, so you’re considered disabled), then you can take 8 weeks maternity leave under MMLA after the birth).

    Although the law only gives leave rights to women, a boss that doesn't let a man have time off could be charged with gender discrimination. 

    Enforcement: The law is enforced by the Mass. Commission Against Discrimination. You have to file a complaint within 300 days of when you were not permitted to have maternity leave or were discriminated against for using maternity leave. Go to MCAD office in Boston or Springfield. 


    The Massachusetts Small Necessities Leave Act (SNLA)

    You have a right to a total of 24 hours leave each year to:

    • Go to your child’s school activities
    • Take your child (under 18 years old) to medical or dental appointments
    • Take relatives over 60 years old to medical, dental, or other appointments related to their care (like interviewing nursing homes or hiring a home health aide).

    Child includes adopted, foster, and step child, legal ward, and when you’re standing in for parents. Older relatives are anyone related to you by blood or marriage.

    Who can use the leave - All private employees have a right to time off for “Small Necessities” if:

    • Your company has 50 or more employees within 75 miles of your worksite.
    • You have worked for the company for 12 months AND you have worked 1,250 hours.

    (These are the same requirements as under the Family Medical Leave Act.)

    How to use the leave:

    • You can use 24 hours of unpaid leave during any 12-month period. You can use one hour or more at a time.
    • Your boss does not have to pay you for the leave. You can choose to, or your boss can make you, use vacation, personal, or sick time, if you have it.
    • The 24 hours under the Small Necessities Law is on top of Family Medical Leave (FMLA).
    • You must tell your boss at least 7 days before the leave (if you know in advance). It’s a good idea to talk to your boss as soon as you can.
    • If you don’t know in advance, you must tell your boss as soon as you can.
    • Your boss can make you request the time off in writing. It’s better to ask for the leave in writing, even if your boss doesn’t care how you ask. You can use the sample certification from the Attorney General in the Links Section
    • Your boss can ask for a written certification after the time off that says how you used the time. See the sample from the Attorney General.

    The law is enforced by the Office of the Attorney General. If you have a union, you have many more rights. Your union contract may give you additional rights to take time off and how you use benefit time. Read your contract or ask a shop steward or union representative.


    Blood Donation: State and county workers and some local government workers have a right to 8 hours paid time off each year to donate blood products – but only if donating it to a cancer research center. Local governments have to decide if they are going to be covered by the law.

    Organ Donation: State and county workers and some city and town workers have a right to up to 30 paid days off for organ donation. Local governments (cities and towns) have to decide if they are going to be covered by the law. Workers have to give at least 7 days' notice, or as much notice as possible.

    The laws: Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, § 105D
 (Mass. Maternity Leave Act)

                    Mass. Gen. Laws 
ch. 149, § 52D 

(Small Necessities Leave)

                    Mass. Gen. Laws ch 149 § 33E (public employee organ donation)

                    Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149 § 105D (public employee blood donation)