In a rare weekend meeting session, the Massachusetts Senate passed legislation on Saturday establishing a paid family and medical leave program for all workers.
The Paid Family and Medical Leave Bill protects employees who must take time off from work to recover from serious health issues or to care for a new child or sick family member.
The bill requires employers to offer employees up to 16 weeks of paid leave for family care and up to 26 weeks for temporary disability leave. Employees would be eligible for such benefits after 1,250 hours of service, the current federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) standard.
“No one should have to choose between a paycheck and their own health or the well-being of their families,” said Senate Committee on Ways and Means Chair Senator, Karen E. Spilka. “Paid leave is a common sense benefit that workers in nearly every other country in the world receive. Most working families cannot afford unpaid leave - we may need to take time off from work, but our financial obligations don’t ever take time off. We have also heard from many Massachusetts businesses that it is in their competitive best interest to offer paid leave, in order to attract and retain the most talented workers.”
The bill would protect employees who use family or medical leave and prevent retaliation. Should an employee take paid leave, they must be restored to their previous position, or a similar one. In addition, the employee must maintain their previously accrued vacation time, sick time, bonuses, advancement or other employment benefits.
“Our nation remains the beacon of hope throughout the world as a country where an individual can prosper through ambition, education, and hard work,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg. “However, we lag behind every industrialized nation when it comes to paid family leave. This bill ensures that Massachusetts residents will not have to choose between taking care of a newborn baby or caring for a sick loved one and their job.”
The bill now goes to the Massachusetts House of Representatives.