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Massachusetts Maternity Leave Becomes Parental Leave on April 7, 2015

January 14, 2015 Leave a comment

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Just before leaving office, Governor Patrick signed into law a bill extending the existing Massachusetts Maternity Leave protections to all employees.  Now both parents of the child can take advantage of this benefit.

Although the Parental Leave closely tracks the old Maternity Leave some new provisions have been added. One, being that if two employees work for the same employer, they will only be entitled to 8 weeks of parental leave in aggregate for the birth or adoption of a child. In addition an employee on parental leave for adoption is now entitled to the same benefits as an employee on leave for the birth of a child.  There is also some interaction with other laws that you should be aware of.  To see how this new law could affect you please read the full alert.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact a member of our Employment Law Group.

New Year Resolutions…Have You Made Yours?

January 5, 2015 Leave a comment

ela_indexWelcome to 2015!  Each year thousands of people make New Year Resolutions to better themselves.  They resolve to be happier, healthier, organized, involved in their community, etc.  However, often we overlook the workplace when making these new resolutions. That’s why we put together a handful of tips to ensure your employment practices are in order.  It’s time to update handbooks and policies, make sure reviews are on schedule for the year and put a “WISP” (Written Information Security Plan) into place if you haven’t already.  Ring the year in right, ensure you and your employees are working in a happier, healthier company!

View our Top Ten Employment Tips for 2015!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact a member of our Employment Law Group.

Voters Approve Ballot Mandating Paid Sick Leave

November 13, 2014 Leave a comment

This month, Massachusetts voters approved a ballot measure regarding employee entitlement to receive paid sick leave. Effective July 2015, employers of eleven or more employees are now required to provide paid sick leave. As a result of the new requirement, both full and part time employees are eligible for up to 40 hours of annual paid sick leave.  For purposes of calculating whether an employer falls within the eleven employee threshold, the law considers any person who performs services for wage, remuneration, or other compensation at the status of full-time, part-time, or temporary employees. To ensure compliance, employers who previously did not offer paid sick time should begin the revisions of  existing policies and handbooks.

For more information on what this means for employees, please see the full Alert.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact a member of our Employment Law Group.

Employers Face Wage & Hour Risks When Terminating Employees

September 5, 2014 Leave a comment

This summer, the family-owned grocery store chain Market Basket has been engaged in a contentious and public dispute over ownership and control of the chain. As a result, thousands of jobs have hung in the balance. In a joint letter, the Attorneys General of Massachusetts and New Hampshire recently used the dispute to remind Market Basket of its legal obligations to employees. The joint letter applies to employers generally, and provides a helpful synopsis of some of the obligations and risks involved in employee terminations.

For further information or questions about employee terminations, contact a member of our Employment Law Group.

Massachusetts’ Minimum Wage Set to Increase

July 23, 2014 Leave a comment

The minimum wage in Massachusetts is set to increase on January 1, 2015 for the first time since 2008.  On June 26, 2014, Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill into law which will raise the hourly minimum wage for non-tipped employees from $8.00 an hour as follows:

  • Beginning January 1, 2015, to $9.00.
  • Beginning January 1, 2016, to $10.00.
  • Beginning January 1, 2017, to $11.00.

The hourly minimum cash wage for tipped workers will increase from $2.63 to $3.00 an hour on January 1, 2015, and again to $3.75 an hour on January 1, 2017.  As a result of these increases, Massachusetts’ minimum wage will be amongst the highest in the country.

Compliance with Massachusetts’ minimum wage laws is important since the failure to do so will result in a violation of the Massachusetts “Payment of Wages” statute, M.G.L. c.149, §148 (the “Wage Act”).  Violations of the Wage Act carry a high price and are subject to mandatory treble (triple) damages and attorney’s fees, even if an employer has acted in good faith.  Wage Act violations can also result in criminal penalties and civil liability for the employer as well for as the president, treasurer, and individual “officers and agents” of the employer.

For more information on the Massachusetts minimum wage increase or wage and hour compliance generally, contact a member of the Employment Law Group.

Employment Law Clip: Pitfalls of Using Independent Contractors

March 3, 2014 Leave a comment

Many businesses use “independent contractors” to augment their regular workforce. They see advantages to using trained, non-employee workers with specialized skills who can provide needed services on a short-term or long-term basis.

However, the ability of businesses to classify workers as independent contractors is not unchecked. Businesses cannot avoid employer obligations simply by designating certain workers as independent contractors.

Please feel free to contact any member of MBBP’s Employment Law Group with questions on independent contractors.

Want more information? Try some of our other resources on this topic:

Recent Cases Expand Antidiscrimination Laws

December 10, 2013 Leave a comment

Three recent Massachusetts cases expand employee rights under the antidiscrimination laws. Each case impacts a diverse aspect of the state’s antidiscrimination law, including the issue of attorney-client privilege applying to an internal investigation, claims of associational discrimination, and remedies for civil harassment.

For more information, please read our December Employment Law Advisor.