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PRESS RELEASE - Downing Sponsors Bill Aimed at Strengthening Families
May 02, 2007

State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D – Pittsfield) is pleased to announce that he has co-sponsored the P.O.P. Leave Bill (Providing Opportunity for Parental Leave).  This initiative is intended to strengthen families across the Commonwealth by allowing more access to state parental leave.


Currently, the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (MMLA) requires covered Massachusetts employers (six or more employees) to provide no fewer than eight weeks of unpaid leave to eligible female employees for the purpose of giving birth or for adopting a child under the age of 18 (or under the age of 23 if the child is disabled).  The MMLA, by its terms, provides maternity leave to female employees only.  The aim of this legislation would be to provide primary caregivers with equal opportunity to take the same amount of unpaid leave. 


States such as Rhode Island, Connecticut and Vermont have already enacted such legislation.  Eight other states have similar initiatives in place.  This bill would simply amend the language of the existing MMLA to include both males and females.


“This bill is about allowing both parents equal opportunity to care for their child,” said Downing. “It’s only fair that we update our laws to reflect the value we now place as a society on shared parenting and shared responsibilities.”


The passage of this legislation would grant fathers the opportunity to spend more time with their children.  Studies have found that children with strong bonds to their fathers have improved cognitive abilities, and lower rates of teen violence and delinquency.




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