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New state law provides 24 hours unpaid leave

The Small Necessities Leave Act (SNLA), a new state law providing eligible employees with 24 hours of unpaid leave annually for certain family obligations, went into effect on August 4. The new law covers specific activities that are not covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA).

As with FMLA, which allowed for 12 weeks' unpaid leave, a "rolling" 12 month period will be used, measured backward from the starting date of the requested leave. Covered employees are defined as those who have been employed for at least 12 months and worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months preceding the leave.

The 24 hours of SNLA leave are additional to the 12 weeks of FMLA and may be taken intermittently or all at once. Employees may elect to use earned vacation balances or personal leave balances during the otherwise unpaid SNLA leave period.

For purposes of implementing this law at MIT, the same-sex "spousal equivalent" definition found in Section 4.5 of the Personnel Policy Manual, Leaves Provided Under the FMLA, will apply.

Some examples of the listed purposes covered under SNLA are:

  • Participation in school activities of a son or daughter, so long as those activities are "directly related to the educational advancement" of the child. Examples include parent-teacher conferences and interviews for a new school.
  • Accompanying a son or daughter to routine health care appointments.
  • Accompanying an "elderly relative" (defined as an individual at least sixty years of age related to the employee by blood or marriage) to routine health care appointments.
  • ������������������Accompanying an elderly relative to an appointment for professional services related to the individual's care, such as interviewing at a nursing home or group care facility.

If the need for the leave is foreseeable, the employee must provide not less than three days' notice before the date on which the leave is to begin, but if the need is not foreseeable, the employee must provide such notice as is practicable. Supervisors may require that a request for leave be supported by documentation.

The SNLA requires the Attorney General to issue regulations governing notification and certification requirements. These regulations have not yet been issued. When this occurs, additional information will be communicated. If you have any questions, please contact your Personnel Officer.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 12, 1998.

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