Leave Entitlements Provided by Law

Various federal and state laws require employers to provide job protected leave for a number of different purposes. Mount Holyoke College provides all of these leaves. Where applicable, Mount Holyoke permits the use of accrued sick, personal, vacation, paid parental leave to provide salary continuation. Below are more details about each of these mandated leave types. 

Domestic Violence Leave

Required by Massachusetts General Law c. 149, § 52E (Employment Leave for Victims and Family Members of Abuse)

All full-time, part–time, and casual employees of the College, upon hire may take up to 15 days off in a rolling 12–month period if either the employee or a family member is:

  • The victim of abusive behavior such as domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, or kidnapping
  • Seeking medical attention, counseling, legal and/or other victim services directly related to the abusive behavior against the employee or a family member

In this regard, "family" is defined as:

  • Legally married spouse
  • People in a substantive dating or engagement relationship who live together
  • People who have a child in common regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together
  • A parent, stepparent, child, stepchild, sibling, grandparent, or grandchild
  • People in a guardianship relationship

Employees are expected to apply accrued sick, vacation or personal time to continue being paid during this leave. Sick leave may be used when seeking medical care for yourself. Vacation and personal leave may be used for all the purposes above. If no paid time is available, the employee may take the time as unpaid. Faculty should consult with the Dean of Faculty office to make time off arrangements.

The time off available under this law does not apply to an employee who is the perpetrator of the abusive behavior against their family member.


The employee is required to provide reasonable advance notice before taking the time whenever possible, and as soon as possible for unforeseeable events. However, if there is a threat of imminent danger to the employee or a covered family member, notice is not required.

Employees should speak to the Manager of Benefits & Training, the Manager of Employment and Staff Relations, or the Director of Human Resources to provide notice. A Human Resources staff member will work with the employee and supervisor to insure the department has the information it needs. The employee must then inform Human Resources within three (3) work days that the time taken was due to domestic violence or sexual abuse. Notice can be provided by the employee, a family member, or a professional assisting the employee or their family member with addressing the effect of the abusive behavior, including a social worker, health care worker, shelter worker, counselor or clergy.

Any employee taking time under this policy is protected provided the employee produces supporting documentation within 30 days of the last day of an absence if such absence was due to domestic violence or other reasons covered by the law. The “Statement in Support of Need for Domestic Violence Leave” form is available on the Human Resources website. Any documentation provided to the College will be returned or destroyed once the College has determined whether the employee is eligible for leave under this policy.


All information related to an employee’s leave under this policy will be kept confidential by the College, except to the extent that disclosure is required or permitted by law or necessary to protect the safety of the employee or other College employees, students or visitors. Supervisors should consult with Human Resources if an employee provides notice of needing domestic violence leave. All documentation should be directed to Human Resources. Departments should not collect documentation.  

Family and Medical Leave

Required by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

Mount Holyoke College has adopted a family leave policy which will allow benefits eligible employees with at least one year of service or the equivalent of at least a minimum of 1,250 hours of service to request up to 12 weeks of consecutive, job-protected, unpaid leave within a twelve month period for their own health reasons (serious health condition) or that of their immediate family members, or for the birth, foster care, or adoption of a child. This 12-week leave is inclusive of accrued paid leave, such as vacation or sick leave if appropriate. This policy is in accordance with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA).

For purposes of this policy, immediate family members include: child (biological, adopted, or foster child, a step-child, legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis); spouse; or parent (parent or person who acted in loco parentis, not parent-in-law).

Provisions of the FMLA require employees to provide medical certification, acceptable to the College, of serious illness of either the employee or immediate family member prior to the commencement of a leave. During the leave, subsequent medical recertification may also be required.

Employees must present their request for leave under the FMLA at least 30 days prior to the requested leave date. In cases where the necessity for leave is unforeseeable, employees should present their request as soon as possible under the circumstances.

Under this policy, employees requesting leave for the purpose of caring for themselves as a result of a serious illness may also request intermittent or reduced schedule leave. Intermittent leave is non-consecutive leave (the 12 weeks of unpaid leave not being taken all at one time); a reduced schedule leave allows an employee to request a reduction in their usual number of hours worked per week or per day. Employees requesting intermittent leave should discuss with their department head their request and options for leave available that would minimize any potential adverse impact of their absence on the operations of the department and ensure that necessary work was accomplished. To this end, if an employee's leave request is based on foreseeable or planned medical treatment, she/he must make a reasonable effort to schedule treatment so as to have as minimal an impact on the work schedule as possible. In such an intermittent or reduced schedule leave request, the employee may be temporarily transferred to an available alternative job that better accommodates the periods of leave than the employee's regular position if the employee is qualified to perform the alternative job.

During the period an employee is on approved unpaid FMLA leave, the College will continue to pay its share of the costs of all benefits except the retirement plan, provided the employee makes arrangements to pay her or his share of such benefits. The employee may continue to make voluntary contributions to her or his retirement benefit by sending money directly to our current retirement vendor, but these contributions will be on an after-tax basis only. While on unpaid family leave, the employee does not continue to accrue vacation, sick leave, or holiday pay.

For leaves associated with the birth or adoption of a child, parental request on a leave of absence may be made under the provisions of either the parental leave or family leave policy (but not both). Parental leave and FMLA will run concurrently. For leave requests for reasons other than family or medical, employees may request consideration under the provisions of the leave of absence policy.

If both spouses are employed by Mount Holyoke College and leave is requested for the birth or placement of a child on adoption or to care for a sick parent, the couple's leave may be limited to a total of 12 weeks. If, however, the leave is requested to care for a seriously ill child, each parent may be eligible for the full 12-week leave.

An employee returning from unpaid family leave is entitled to be returned to the position she/he held prior to the leave or to an equivalent position. Medical certification of the employee's ability to perform the job may be required. Certain key administrative positions may be exempt from eligibility for job restoration rights.

All requests should be made through the employee's supervisor/department head or chair. More detailed information on this policy may be obtained from the Human Resources Department.

Parental Leave

Required by the Massachusetts General Law. c. 149, § 105D (An Act Relative to Parental Leave).

Massachusetts law requires employers with six or more employees to provide eight weeks of unpaid parental leave for the birth or for the placement of a child under the age of 18, or under the age of 23 if the child is mentally or physically disabled, for adoption.

  • Women and men are entitled to parental leave.
  • If the employer agrees to provide parental leave for longer than 8 weeks, the employer must reinstate the employee at the end of the extended leave unless it clearly informs the employee in writing before the leave and before any extension of that leave, that taking longer than 8 weeks of leave shall result in the denial of reinstatement or the loss of other rights and benefits.
  • The law clarifies that the right to leave applies to employees who have completed an initial probationary period set by the terms of employment, but which is not greater than 3 months.
  • Two employees of the same employer shall only be entitled to 8 weeks of parental leave in aggregate for the birth or adoption of the same child.
  • The employee shall give at least 2 weeks’ notice to the employer of the anticipated date of departure and the employee’s intention to return, or provide notice as soon as practicable if the delay is for reasons beyond the individual’s control.
  • The employee shall be restored to the employee’s previous, or a similar, position with the same status, pay, length of service credit and seniority, wherever applicable, as of the date of the leave.
  • An employee on parental leave for the adoption of a child shall be entitled to the same benefits offered by the employer to an employee on parental leave for the birth of a child.
  • The parental leave may be with or without pay at the discretion of the employer. 
  • Parental leave is available at the time of the birth or adoption, but not substantially earlier or substantially later.

Coordination with Family and Medical Leave

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act and the Massachusetts Act Relative to Parental Leave overlap so that many new parents will be eligible for both. When that is the case, Family and Medical Leave and Parental Leave will run concurrently. 

Pay during Parental Leave

Mount Holyoke College has provided paid parental leave for some time.  

Employees whose regular work schedule is at least 20 hours per week and who work 9 months or more per year are eligible for paid parental leave benefits after completion of 12 months of service.

An employee who takes primary responsibility for the care of a newborn child or newly-adopted child is eligible for six weeks paid parental leave with normal pay and benefits during the period immediately following the birth or adoption. Any holidays that fall within this six week period will be considered as part of the paid parental leave and will not be carried forward to extend the paid period. A primary care giver shall be that person who takes primary responsibility for the care of an infant or small child. In order to exercise the primary care giver benefit, an employee must complete an affidavit stating he or she is the primary person responsible for the care of the child. This policy depends on, and assumes, the good faith of its participants. Leave benefits will be paid only for periods in which the employee would otherwise have worked.

After the six week paid leave, the primary care giver may use any accrued vacation time, sick time and/or floating holidays to continue a paid leave up to a maximum of 12 weeks leave. If there is no accrued time, the employee may continue an unpaid leave to a maximum of 12 weeks. Please note that while the Massachusetts law provides for up to 8 weeks of unpaid leave, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (see above) provides up to 12 weeks. 

College contributions to health, life, dental and long term disability insurance in which the employee is enrolled will continue for 12 weeks to the extent provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act. In addition, retirement plan contributions will continue during any period of paid leave.

The maximum paid and unpaid parental leave is 12 weeks (except in the case of multiple births). Primary care givers who are unable to work because of a disability which was caused by or contributed to by their pregnancy may request an extension. Any extension is subject to a one year limitation; however, the College reserves the right in any particular case to extend this privilege beyond one year without establishing a precedent.

If an employee fails to return to work, repayment of salary and benefit costs for all weeks must be made to the College. Any paid leave banks will be applied to the time used and if needed, reimbursement will be pro-rated proportionally.

Employees with less than one year of service will be granted leave in accordance with state and federal regulations.

Earned Sick Time Law

Required by Massachusetts General Law c. 149, § 148C (Earned Sick Leave Law)

Effective July 1, 2015, Massachusetts voted into law the right for all employees in Massachusetts to earn sick time. The following information pertains only to employees who do not have access to sick leave under the College’s paid leave plans (e.g. temporary, casual part-time, part-time on call and students working during the summer break). Employees in this category are eligible to accrue sick time based on guidelines in this law. Please refer to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s website for complete information on the Earned Sick Time Law.

Accrual of Sick Time

Sick time is accrued on a fiscal year basis, July 1 – June 30.  Employees earn 1 hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked.  

Hourly paid employees will accrue sick time each payroll based on the number of hours worked including overtime hours. Salaried employees will have anticipated earned sick time front loaded into their sick bank at hire, rehire or at the beginning of the fiscal year. The sick hours will be calculated based on the total number of hours scheduled to work for the time period in which the employee is hired and divided by 30 hours.

Employees can view their accrued sick leave through the College’s web-based online system, my.mtholyoke for Employees. my.mtholyoke can be accessed through the College’s main website using your login credentials.

Maximum Amount of Sick Time Accrual and Carryover

The maximum amount of sick time employees are eligible to accrue during the fiscal year is 40 hours.  

Hourly employees with unused earned sick time at the end of the year can carryover up to 40 hours. Salaried employees do not carryover any earned sick time because the sick time is front-loaded at the time of hire, re-hire, or the beginning of the fiscal year.

Using Sick Time

Newly hired employees accrue earned sick time from the date of hire but are not eligible to use sick time until they satisfactorily complete 90 calendar days of continuous service.

Employees are eligible to use only the accrued amount of sick time in their bank. 

Sick time cannot be used in advance of accrual. Sick time can only be used on days that you are regularly scheduled to work. Sick time may be used in 15 minute increments.

Employees paid biweekly (typically referred to as hourly) record the use of sick time hours on their timecards for the pay period in which it is used through the web time entry system which is located on the College’s web-based online system, my.mtholyoke for Employees. Employees paid monthly (typically referred to as salaried) record the use of sick time hours on the first of the month for the previous month’s usage through the College’s Paid Leave Recording system which is located on the College’s web-based online system, my.mtholyoke for Employees.

Breaks in Service

Following a break in service of up to twelve months, an employee shall maintain the right to use any unused earned sick time accrued before the break in service.

Following a break in service of up to twelve months, employees maintain their vesting days from the employer and do not need to restart the 90-day vesting period.

Appropriate Use of Sick Time

Employees eligible for earned sick time may:

  • Use earned sick time for their own illness, injury or health condition or medical appointment.
  • Use earned sick time for the illness of a spouse, child, parent, or parent-in-law.
  • Use earned sick time for the medical appointments of a spouse, child, parent or parent-in-law.
  • Use earned sick time to address the psychological, physical or legal effects of domestic violence.
  • Use earned sick time for travel to and from an appointment, a pharmacy, or other location related to the purpose for which the time was taken.

Supervisors should be notified as soon as possible in the event that an employee cannot report to work. Departments may have established their own procedures for notification. Please check with your own department for the protocols within your area. If an appointment is foreseeable, please provide as much advance notice as possible.

Documentation of Illness

The College may require a statement from a physician in any of the following instances:

  • The absence exceeds 24 consecutively scheduled work hours or exceeds 3 consecutive days on which the employee was scheduled to work.
  • The absence occurs within 2 weeks prior to an employee’s final scheduled day of work before termination of employment, except in the case of temporary employees
  • The absence occurs after 4 unforeseeable and undocumented absences within a 3 month period.

In order to protect both you and the College, a physician's certification may be required before you can return to work.

Earned Sick Time notice from the Office of the Attorney General (with instructions for MHC employees)

Small Necessities Leave

Required by Massachusetts General Law c. 149, § 52D (Small Necessities Leave)

The Small Necessities Leave Act permits eligible employees to take up to a total of 24 hours of unpaid leave within a 12-month period to attend a child’s school activity or accompany a child or elderly relative to a doctor’s appointment. Employees who are eligible for Family and Medical Leave (see above) are eligible for this leave. 

The Small Necessities Leave Act permits an employee leave for the following purposes:

  • To participate in school activities directly related to the educational advancement of a son or daughter of the employee, such as a parent-teacher conference or interviewing for a new school;
  • To accompany a son or daughter of the employee to routine medical or dental appointments, such as check-ups or vaccinations; and
  • To accompany an elderly relative of the employee to routine medical or dental appointments or appointments for other professional services relating to the elder’s care, such as interviewing at nursing or group homes.

The 24 hours of leave available under this benefit are in addition to the 12 weeks of leave provided for under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. The 24 hours may be taken within the 12-month calendar year period and the time may be taken on an intermittent (i.e. 2 hours to attend a parent-teacher conference) or reduced-time schedule.

An employee is required to provide his/her department with seven (7) days’ notice of the need for the leave if the leave is foreseeable. If the necessity for the leave is not foreseeable, the employee is required to provide notice of the leave as soon as practicable.

An employer may require that written certification or documentation support a request for leave under this act.

Pay during Small Necessities Leave

Mount Holyoke College employees may accrued personal or vacation leave to be paid for Small Necessities Leave.