There are many regulatory changes being made in states across the country just about every day, and some of them can have a major impact on businesses large and small. Such a bill just went into effect in Massachusetts, and impacts companies with as few as six employees.
The Maternity Leave Act was signed into law earlier this year, but did not go into effect until April 7, according to a report from the Boston Globe. As the name implies, it mandates that parents – man or woman – with newborn babies must be given at least eight weeks of unpaid leave when they work at businesses with at least six employees. But when their employer has more than 50 workers on staff, that falls under the federal requirement of 12 weeks of unpaid leave. So this change is almost certainly going to affect some of the smaller businesses in the Bay State.
“States and municipalities are all starting to recognize that families are different than they were 25 or 50 years ago,” Jennifer Fraone, associate director of the Boston College Center for Work and Family, told the newspaper. “Either a mother or father can be the primary caregiver and these types of laws and provisions just give families more choices to make the decision that’s best for them.”
A potential problem?
Small business advocacy organizations largely didn’t contest the bill, which they said was preferable to others being considered, the report said. (For instance, Boston municipal employees may soon get paid maternity leave.) However, they do recognize that smaller businesses could struggle to deal with the prolonged absence of an employee, even if the circumstances are perfectly reasonable. Further, many more companies have long been offering this level of unpaid leave to new parents for years or more, and having the law take effect now really doesn’t make much of a difference to them and their bottom lines.
Certainly, this falls into one of those issues that many small businesses have faced in the past related to attracting or retaining talent by offering comparable benefits to larger competitors. Owners who want to ensure this is viable for them may want to consider finding more affordable small business insurance coverage, including policies for general liability insurance, to potentially free up thousands of dollars per year.