Maternity Leave and Accrued PTO

We are located in Massachusetts where we have the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act.  This law states that we have to allow 8 weeks of unpaid leave for anyone wishing time off for the birth or adoption of their child.  Our company is less than 50 people so we are not required to provide FMLA coverage.  Here is what I need help with.  We have a woman who will be out on MMLA for 8 weeks.  She will have a total 37.75 hours of accrued PTO when she goes out on leave.  She is asking that we tack on another week to her 8 weeks leave for this PTO use.  Are we required to provide the use of PTO during or in conjunction with her leave?  I offered to pay her for the unused PTO since she will be beginning her leave near the end of the year, however, she is requesting that the PTO be added to her leave.  Any suggestions/advice?  Thanks in advance.


  • 7 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination administers the Mass. Maternity Leave Act.

    I would call and ask them whether you can run PTO concurrently with MMLA leave.  If you don't like their answer, you'll probably want to talk to a Mass. attorney or look into a large HR legal research source like BLR offers.

  • I am also in a Massachusetts company.  I don't believe the MMLA would have an answer for you.  The MMLA is 8 weeks of leave period.  I would think you would have something in your employee handbook on the uses of the PTO.  I know we also have a personal time bank but I would say 99% of the time the employee has asked to be paid as MMLA is unpaid leave.  If you don't have specifics in your employee manual and you can run your business without her for another week without a hardship, I personally would give it to her.  The laws don't include the personal time banks an employer gives to their employees - it is a benefit for them given freely by the employer.  My opinion. 
  • In MA , if maternity leave is unpaid, the employee must be permitted to use, concurrently with the maternity leave, accrued paid vacation (PTO) or personal time. For vacation or personal time, an employee may voluntarily use any accrued vacation or personal time she has concurrently with all or part of her maternity leave. Employers cannot require an employee to use her accrued paid vacation or personal time concurrently with all or part of her maternity leave, even if such requirement is imposed upon similarly situated persons who take leave for other reasons.
  • Thank you Joy1. We ended up speaking with our Attorney and this is, basically, what he said.  Needless to say, this is what we did.
  • LynneSouth, Unfortunately, we did not anticipate this type of situation when we prepared our handbook.  I believe that most people would want the pay in lieu of time.  But this employee wants more time.  Thank you for your response.
  • Thank you all for your responses.  [Y]
  • [quote user="LynneSouth"]I don't believe the MMLA would have an answer for you. . . .  My opinion. [/quote]

    Hi Lynne,

    This is exactly the sort of question I have been able to get answered by state and federal administrative agencies over the years.  There are shortcomings to the approach, but it's typically a fast and simple way to get an answer.  If you don't like the answer you can always dig deeper with an attorney.  Is there something specific about the MMLA others may want to know about?  Have they given false information or used voluntary contact as the basis for a witch hunt?



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