Prior to the passage of the PLA, the MMLA provided women who worked at employers with six or more employees up to eight weeks of maternity leave (with or without pay) for the birth or adoption of a child. In order to be eligible for the leave, the woman had to have completed the employer’s initial probationary period or, if there was no probationary period, worked for at least three consecutive months as a full-time employee. She was entitled to reinstatement to her previous or “similar position” after taking up to eight weeks of leave. If an employee, with the employer’s permission, took more than eight weeks of leave, she had no right to reinstatement.
The PLA entitles male employees to the protections afforded women under the MMLA, including eight weeks of parental leave. However, it does not entitle two parents who are employed by the same employer to each take eight weeks off for the birth or placement of the same child. Rather, the two parents may take up to eight weeks of leave in aggregate for the same child.
In addition to extending the protections of the MMLA to men, the PLA adds several additional provisions. Under the PLA, if an employer allows an employee to take more than eight weeks of leave, the employer may not deny the employee job reinstatement unless it informs the employee in writing prior to beginning parental leave, and prior to any subsequent extension, that taking more than eight weeks will result in the denial of reinstatement. The PLA also mandates that covered employers allow eligible employees to take parental leave after three consecutive months of full-time employment, regardless of the probationary period. Finally, the PLA provides leave for the placement of a child pursuant to a court order.