How the Massachusetts Small Necessities Leave Act Protects Employees
Federal law protects employees under the Family and Medical Leave Act, but Massachusetts gives employees special additional protections under what is called the Small Necessities Leave Act (the SNLA).
What does the SNLA do? It grants an FMLA-eligible employee a total of 24 hours of unpaid leave during any twelve-month period, in addition to any leave the employee was entitled to under the FMLA.
What are these “small necessities” covered by the SNLA? It covers a variety of important activities that an employee might need a few extra hours for. For example, parent-teacher conferences, medical appointments, helping elderly relatives attend medical or other professional appointments, or other meetings related to the employee’s child’s “educational advancement.
To be covered by the SNLA, the employee must have worked for the employer for at least a year, worked at least 1,250 hours in the last year, and the employer must have at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius. Thus, it does not cover many smaller employers, but does cover most large ones with offices in Massachusetts.
To take advantage of the SNLA, an employee should give at least seven days’ notice, or, if this is not possible, “as soon as is practicable.” The best practice is to provide this notice in writing. The Attorney General provides a specific format for requesting leave from an employer, as follows:
I certify that on _______________ I will/did take ______ hours of leave for the following purpose:
__ to participate in school activities directly related to the educational advancement of a son or daughter
__to accompany the son or daughter of the employee to routine medical or dental appointments such as check-ups or vaccinations
__to accompany an elderly relative to routine medical or dental appointments or appointments for other professional services related to the elder’s care
Employee’s Signature:________________________ Date:_______________________
If an employer violates the SNLA, there are a number of potential consequences. First, the employee him- or herself can file a civil lawsuit after filing a complaint with the Attorney General. And second, the Attorney General can initiate a criminal action against the employer, who can be fined up to $500. An employee is entitled to three times the amount of damages that were caused as a result of the violation. If the employee obtains a Massachusetts employment lawyer – which is always a good idea – the employee is also entitled to have his or her attorney’s fees paid.
Culik Law is a Massachusetts Law Firm. The posts on Culik Law’s blog are not intended as legal advice. If you have questions about your particular situation, CONTACT CULIK LAW for a Free Consultation.