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New Sick Leave Benefits Now Available To Massachusetts Residents

Massachusetts has entered the next step of the state’s paid family and medical leave program.
Massachusetts has entered the next step of the state’s paid family and medical leave program. Photo Credit: Massachusetts State Senate

Massachusetts has entered a new step of the state’s paid family and medical leave program, which will now allow area residents up to three months of paid time off to care for a loved one.

Beginning this week, Massachusetts employees can apply to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a family member that may be suffering from a serious health condition.

The Paid Family and Medical Leave Act was passed in 2018 as part of a package of workplace reforms reached between the state Legislature and Gov. Charlie Baker.

At the start of January, paid leave benefits expanded to allow residents to take parental leave, extended sick leave, and manage family affairs when a family member is called to active duty while in the armed forces.

The bulk of the provisions in the bill took effect in January, with the rest taking effect as of Thursday, July 1.

Qualified family members who can take time to care for a family member include:

  • Spouses or domestic partners;
  • Children;
  • Parents or in-laws;
  • Grandchildren;
  • Grandparents;
  • Siblings.

Officials noted that to take a leave, 30 days' notice should be provided to employers, and if that is not possible, “employees should give their employer as much notice as possible.”

Tasks employees can take leave for include:

  • Supporting family members with everyday activities;
  • Offering support for mental health conditions;
  • Making arrangements for long-term care for a loved one;
  • Providing transportation to medical appointments.

Senate President Karen Spilka joined members of “Raise Up Massachusetts” and other supporters of the new legislation to celebrate its passing on Thursday afternoon.

“Fifteen years ago, I set out to ensure that no one in Massachusetts would have to choose between their paycheck and caring for a new baby or loved one,” she said. “Today, with the help of my colleagues, advocates, and the business community, this dream - and lifeline - fully becomes a reality.” 

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