The Massachusetts state legislature is considering a bill that would not only provide family leave for employees who now are not entitled to it, but would set up a fund to pay at least part of their lost wages.
Titled “An Act establishing a family and medical leave and temporary disability leave insurance program,” the bill has numerous sponsors in both the House and Senate. It is currently being considered by the Labor and Workforce Development Committee and is due to be reported out on May 16. Citing the large number of Massachusetts employees who are not entitled to leave provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) due to company size – and decrying the fact that FMLA leave is unpaid and thus difficult for many employees to use in any event – the bill’s sponsors contend that the new law is needed to protect employees who face serious personal or family emergencies. Among its provisions as currently formulated are the following:
Eligibility for the Act’s benefits would begin after an employee works 1,250 hours for his/her employer. Penalizing employees who take leave would be prohibited. If enacted, the new law will be administered by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD). Violators will be subject to the same penalties as apply in discrimination cases generally, including payment of an affected employee’s lost wages, emotional distress and legal fees.