Massachusetts Leave Laws

Vacation Leave

In Massachusetts, an employer is not required to provide its employees with vacation benefits, either paid or unpaid. MA Off. of Labor FAQs. If an employer chooses to provide such benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.

If an employer chooses to provide vacation benefits, it must pay employees for the accrued or earned leave upon separation from employment, regardless of the reason. MA Atty. Gen. Advisory 1999/1. An employer cannot enforce a vacation leave policy where an employee forfeits all or part of their accrued or vested vacation upon separation from employment. MA Atty. Gen. Advisory 1999/1.

An employer may place a reasonable cap on the amount of vacation leave employees may accrue. MA Atty. Gen. Advisory 1999/1.

An employer may lawfully implement a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy requiring employees to use their leave by a set date or lose it, so long as employees have a reasonable opportunity to use their leave. MA Atty. Gen. Advisory 1999/1.

Sick Leave

Massachusetts requires employers to provide sick leave to eligible employees. Find out more about the sick leave requirements by visiting our Massachusetts Sick Leave Law page.

An employer in Massachusetts may also be required to provide an employee unpaid sick leave in accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act or other federal laws.

Holiday Leave

Massachusetts has laws that govern holiday work. The law differentiates between retailers, non-retailers, and manufacturers. Mass. Blue Laws Overview.

State holidays

Visit our Massachusetts State Holidays page for a list of holidays recognized and observed by the state of Massachusetts as well as information regarding state laws governing holiday leave for public employers and employees.


Holidays on which work can be performed only with a permit:

  • Christmas
  • Columbus Day before 12:00 p.m.
  • Thanksgiving
  • Veteran’s Day before 1:00 p.m.

Retailers with more than seven (7) employees must pay premium pay on the following holidays as follows, although they are not required to obtain a permit:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Columbus Day before 12:00 p.m.
  • Veteran’s Day before 1:00 p.m.
    • 1.5 times the hourly rate
  • Memorial Day
  • Juneteenth Independence Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
    • January 1, 2021 – 1.2 times the hourly rate
    • January 1, 2022 – 1.1 times the hourly rate
    • January 1, 2023 – 1.0 times the hourly rate

Holidays on which work can be performed without limitations:

  • Martin Luther King Day
  • Patriots’ Day
  • President’s Day
  • Bunker Hill Day
  • Evacuation Day


Holidays on which work can be performed only with a permit (If the permit is acquired an employee can be required to work and is only entitled to regular pay unless standard overtime or Sunday Blue Laws apply):

  • Christmas
  • Thanksgiving
  • Columbus Day before 12:00 noon
  • Veterans Day before 1:00 p.m.

Holidays on which work can be performed without limitation:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Patriots Day
  • Martin Luther King Day
  • Bunker Hill Day
  • President’s Day
  • Juneteenth Independent Day
  • Columbus Day after 12:00 noon
  • Evacuation Day
  • Veterans Day after 1:00 p.m.


The non-retail holiday requirements generally apply to manufacturing. However, although manufacturers may lawfully stay open on legal holidays with the proper permits, employees cannot be required to work on those days, but instead must be given the option to work or not, except in very limited circumstances where the work being performed:

  • is absolutely necessary and
  • the enterprise requires continuous operation. Otherwise work must be voluntary.

Jury Duty Leave

An employer must pay regular employees their regular wages for the first three (3) days, or part thereof, of juror service. Regular employees include part-time, temporary, and casual employees as long as the hours of the employee may reasonably be determined by a schedule or by custom and practice established during the three-month period preceding the term of juror service. Each self-employed juror is responsible for compensating himself for the first three (3) days, or part thereof, of juror service. MA Statute 234A.48

A court has the authority to excuse an employer from the duty to compensate an employee on jury duty or to excuse a self-employed juror from the duty to compensate himself for the first three (3) days, or part thereof, of juror service upon a finding that the employer or self-employed juror would suffer extreme financial hardship if the duty to pay wages for the first three (3) days were not removed. If an employer or self-employed juror is excused from paying wages, the court must award reasonable compensation in lieu of wages to the juror to be paid by the state for the first three (3) days, or part thereof, of juror service, up to $50 per day. MA Statute 234A.49

An employer may not discharge, penalize, deny benefits to, harass, threaten, or coerce an employee because the employee has received and/or responds to a juror summons or performs any obligation related of juror service. An employer may not impose compulsory work assignments upon any employee or do any other intentional act which substantially interferes with the availability, effectiveness, attentiveness, or peace of mind of the employee during the performance of his or her juror service. MA Statute 234A.61

Voting Leave

Massachusetts law prohibit employers from requiring any employee that works in a manufacturing, mechanical, or mercantile establishment to work within the first two (2) hours after the polls open. To be eligible for voting leave, the employee must request the leave. MA Statute 149.178

Massachusetts law does not have a law which requires an employer, other than those with manufacturing, mechanical, or mercantile establishments, to provide employees with leave, paid or unpaid, to vote.

Bereavement Leave

Massachusetts law does not require employers to provide employees bereavement leave or leave to attend funerals. Bereavement leave is leave that is taken by an employee due to the death of another individual, usually a close relative. Employers may choose to provide bereavement leave and may be required to comply with any bereavement policy or practice they maintain.

Massachusetts Domestic Violence Leave Law

In Massachusetts, if an employer has 50 or more employees, they must provide employees with up to 15 days of unpaid leave in one year to any employee, or their family member, who is the victim of domestic violence or abusive behavior. This time off may be taken to seek counseling, medical treatment, obtain a protective order, attend custody proceedings for a child, or other related purposes.

Massachusetts Small Necessities Law

Massachusetts also has a small necessity law that applies to all employers with at least 50 employees. Employers must provide employees up to 24 hours of leave during a year for:

  • To accompany their child to routine dental and medical appointments
  • To accompany an elderly relative to medical appointments or other professional services related to their care, such as interviewing at nursing or group homes
  • To participate in school-related activities directly related to the educational advancement of the employee’s child, such as interviewing for a new school or pending parent-teacher conferences.

Massachusetts Maternity and Adoption Leave Law

Every employer in Massachusetts who has at least six (6) employees must provide eligible employees with up to eight weeks of time off for the adoption of or the birth of a child.

Federal Family and Medical Leave Act

Any employer in Massachusetts with at least 50 employees for a minimum of 20 weeks in the previous or current year must adhere to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Employees may take up to 12 weeks of leave in 12 months if they have worked for the same company for a minimum of 12 months, have worked for at least 1,250 hours during the last 12 months, and work at a location that has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.

Reasons for qualifying for this leave include:

  • Spending time with a new adopted or newborn child,
  • Taking care of a family member who has a severe health condition
  • Recovering from a serious health concern,
  • Handling circumstances that arise out of the military service of a family member,
  • Caring for a family member who has suffered a serious injury or illness due to active military duty.

Twelve weeks may be taken off every 12 months, and this can be renewed yearly as long as the requirements continue to be met.

Moreover, employees are entitled to their health insurance while on leave and must pay the same cost while working. Finally, when this leave ends, that employee has the right to be returned to their previous position or an equivalent one.

Employment Law Updates
Laws change in a moment. Sign up to stay informed.
Employment Law Updates
Laws change in a moment. Sign up to stay informed.

Have employees in more than one state? SUBSCRIBE HERE!

Have employees in more than one state? SUBSCRIBE HERE!