You won’t be voting on paid maternity leave any time soon

A ballot question that would have mandated paid maternity leave has been withdrawn.
A ballot question that would have mandated paid maternity leave has been withdrawn. –Shutterstock

A proposed 2016 Massachusetts ballot question that would have required companies to give new mothers two weeks of paid time off has been withdrawn.

Hargeet Chani, representing a group called Massachusetts Citizens Seeking Common Sense Improvements to Government, submitted language for a ballot question to the attorney general’s office before an August 5 deadline.

The measure would have required companies give two weeks of paid leave to female employees who recently gave birth or adopted a child. It would have done so by amending previously existing law, which gave eight weeks of unpaid time off to employees, but no paid time off. (Federal law requires 12 weeks of unpaid time off at larger companies for new mothers and fathers. The Massachusetts law applies to companies with six or more employees.)


So what went wrong? The ballot question group hit a hurdle realized it had overlooked the most recent version of the previous law.

Earlier this year, the existing law was updated to give both parents time off when a child is born or adopted, not just the mother. The ballot question, if passed, would have amended the previous version of the law—meaning the new provision would have been killed. In other words, the effort to give paid time off to mothers could have stripped unpaid time off for fathers, as well as other new provisions in the law, Chani said.

“[T]ext for the law that we wanted to amend had already been amended by [the legislature], and we didn’t have access to the latest version,’’ Chani told in an email. “Hence, we’d end up undoing the changes that went in at the beginning of the year. As such, we have rescinded the ballot measure.’’

Chani said her group may try to push for a paid maternity leave law through the legislature.

Plenty of other questions are still vying for the ballot. Read about them here.

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