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Time off for family responsibilities

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute & Greater Boston Legal Services
Created April, 2022

The Small Necessities Leave Act (SNLA) gives you up to 24 hours of job secured unpaid time off from work each year to

  • Go to your child’s school activities,
  • Go with your child to the doctor or dentist, or
  • Go with your elderly relative to the doctor or dentist.

Can I take SNLA time off?

You can take SNLA leave if:

  1. Your employer has 50 or more employees. And,
  2. You have worked for your employer 1,250 or more hours in the last 12 months. This is about 24 hours each week. And,
  3. You have a qualifying reason to take time off.

Can I take SNLA off for personal reasons?

You can only take SNLA leave for the following needs:

For example, you can take time to

  • Go to a school conference for your child.
  • Go to a parent-teacher conference.
  • Go to a Special Ed meeting.
  • Interview a new school.
  • Take an elderly relative to a medical or dental appointment. Or,
  • Interview a nursing home.

Who are my children and elderly relatives for SNLA?

Your “child” can be

  • biological,
  • adopted,
  • foster,
  • a stepchild or
  • another child you are legally responsible for.

An “elderly relative” is a person related to you by blood or marriage who is over 60 years old.

When do I have to tell my employer I am taking time under the SNLA?

Tell your employer you need time off in writing as soon as you can.

Your employer can ask you to tell them 7 days before if you know ahead of time that you need time off. If you do not know you need the leave ahead of time, tell your employer as soon as you can.

How many days can I take off to attend to school meetings or medical appointments?

There are no number of days you can take time off under the SNLA. But, you can only take a total of 24 hours. Your employer can say you must take at least one hour each time.

What can I do if my employer says I cannot take leave, or they retaliate against me?

It is illegal for your employer to retaliate because you took SNLA leave.  The employer cannot:

  • deny your leave
  • fire you
  • take any negative employment action against you

Check your employee handbook, talk to your union, talk to your human resource department or a lawyer to learn your next steps. 

You can file a complaint with the wage and hour division of the Attorney General’s office. 

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