Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



Considered one of the strongest paid family and medical leave laws in the nation, the paid leave law adopted in Massachusetts in 2018 was notable for the depth and range of robust caregiving supports and protections for workers. But just as notable is how the law came to be. After all, paid leave bills had been filed for years in Massachusetts. Decades in fact. Yet until 2018, there had been limited movement in the legislature to establish a statewide program. What led to the passage of paid leave legislation in Massachusetts with approval from a Republican Governor? What factors influenced not only the scope and parameters of the paid leave program but how it was developed and by whom?

This case study tells the story of the Massachusetts paid leave law primarily through the eyes of those closely involved in the negotiation process. Drawing on in-depth interviews with legislators, legislative aides, paid leave advocates, business leaders, and individuals from the academic and political consulting arenas, the following analysis incorporates legislative documents, including testimony, as well as reports issued by academic institutions, think tanks, and nonprofit organizations, press releases, news items, and other documents focused primarily on the process of securing paid leave. Therefore, this case study emphasizes the paid leave negotiation process that took place between November 2017 and June 2018. In addition, available information about the law’s implementation is integrated to shed light on implementation to date.


Prepared by Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy in the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Authored by Christa Kelleher, Laurie Nsiah-Jefferson, and Priyanka Kabir, with contributions from Lillian Hunter and Cassandra Porter.

getting-to-yes-executive-summary-202202.pdf (55 kB)
Getting to Yes report (Executive Summary)



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