The Massachusetts legislature has oftentime taken the lead in protecting worker’s rights. As I recently shared, a bill establishing paid family leave was passed by the senate but failed to be voted on by the House Ways and Means Committee. Eventual passage of this bill could ultimately change the landscape when it comes to workers’ rights and could establish a trend that might get traction in other states as well.
And while we reported on many bills germane to the small business owner, there was another bill we missed.
The Home Act
On July 14, 2016, Governor Baker signed An Act Relative to Housing, Operations, Military Service, and Enrichment, also referred to as The Home Act. While this legislation addresses many issues for veterans, there is a component of the law that employers should know.
Before passage of this bill, Massachusetts law required employers to allow “paid or unpaid” leaves of absence to qualified veterans who elect to participate in Veterans Day or Memorial Day activities. The law has now changed—employers with 50 or more workers must pay employees who qualify. It should be noted that this change affects Veterans Day only. Memorial Day was not contemplated in the bill.
While passage of this bill is not considered to be a major issue for most employers, this might be a good time to offer a Massachusetts employer primer update with respect to employee leave.
Leave Entitlement Changes
In Massachusetts Leave Entitlements Change Yet Again, David C. Henderson, a member of the Labor, Employment and Benefits practice group at Nutter McClennen and Fish, LLP, provides a timely update for Massachusetts employers. He speaks to the above-mentioned change in the law, and he also provides a handy employer guide on employee leave.
Included in the “must-know list” are the following:
- Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act
- Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law
- Massachusetts Parental Leave Act
- Massachusetts Domestic Violence and Abusive Situation Leave Act
- Massachusetts Small Necessities Leave Act
- Massachusetts Leave of Absence for Voting Statute
- Massachusetts Leave for Military Training Law
- Massachusetts Veterans or Memorial Day Leave Law
- Massachusetts Jury Service Law
- Massachusetts Witness in Criminal Actions Law
Oftentimes, employers may be unwittingly tripped up by little-known provisions in the law. Disregard for Massachusetts employment laws, whether intended or not, can result in unintended consequences. As such, we recommend all employers be aware of changes, especially in Massachusetts, where the only constant in employment law is change.