Boston Drastically Reduces Its Paid Abortion Leave Benefit For City Workers

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The days of up to 12 weeks of paid abortion leave for women and men employed by the city of Boston are (mostly) over.

That’s because the City of Boston quietly updated its parental leave policy over the summer. It went into effect on September 12, 2022, a move that went unnoticed by the media until NewBostonPost reported it today — which is what happened last year when the city enacted its paid abortion leave policy.

The updated policy, which NewBostonPost obtained from Mayor Michelle Wu’s office, offers a new paid leave benefit for men and women alike employed by the city who experience pregnancy loss. The benefit for pregnancy loss for any reason, including abortion, is now two-tiered. If the pregnancy loss occurs prior to 20 weeks, eligible employees are now eligible for up to five days of paid leave.

However, pregnancy loss for any reason after 20 weeks or more still qualifies for up to 12 weeks of paid leave. In these instances, pregnancy loss refers to abortions, miscarriages, and stillbirths.

So now up to 12 weeks of paid leave for an abortion does not apply to the overwhelming majority of abortions. Just 1.3 percent of abortions that occur in the United States happen after 20 weeks, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Abortions occurring after 20 weeks are generally referred to as late-term abortions.

These changes are not the result of an act from the Boston City Council. Instead, the People Operations Cabinet made and implemented changes to the city’s paid parental leave policy after consulting with Mayor Michelle Wu’s office, a spokesman for the mayor’s office told NewBostonPost. The People Operations Cabinet consists of the Office of Human Resources, the Office of Labor Relations, and the Registry Division of city government, according to the City of Boston.

The changes occurred less than one year after the Boston City Council voted unanimously to expand its parental leave policy to cover pregnancy loss; the city council decided to allow those who experience pregnancy loss for any reason the same benefit offered for childbirth — up to 12 weeks of paid leave for both the mother and father. It passed unanimously on a voice vote during the September 15, 2021 meeting of the city council. The sponsors were then-city councilors Lydia Edwards, Annissa Essaibi George, and Michelle Wu. 

The city’s paid leave scheme offers employees 100 percent of their base wages during the first four weeks of leave, then 75 percent for the next four weeks, and 50 percent for the last four weeks of leave.

The expanded paid leave enacted last year applies to workers meet all of these criteria:


1. The employee has been employed by the City of Boston in a benefits-eligible position for at least 12 consecutive months or 52 consecutive weeks without any break in service;

2. The employee has been in pay status for at least 1250 hours in the preceding 12-month period;

3. The employee is either (a) not covered by a collective bargaining agreement or (b) is covered by a collective bargaining agreement
through: AFSCME; AFSCME 1526; Boston Park Rangers Association;
Boston Police Detective Benevolent Society, Forensics Group; IAFF;
New York Typographical Union, CWA Local 14156; PSA; AFSCME;

4. The employee will experience an Event on or after the effective date of this Paid Parental Leave Policy.


Most of these provisions remain in place.

Here is a full list of the changes to the city’s parental leave that went into effect on September 12, 2022, as provided by the mayor’s office (with “PPL” standing for “paid parental leave”):


  1. Additional ways to take PPL

    • Under the previous Policy, employees approved for PPL could only use their leave in one or two continuous periods. Effective 9/12/22, leave can be taken intermittently, in full-day increments, so long as it does not unreasonably interfere with the department’s operational needs.

  2. Updated policy language

    • The Policy clarifies that if both partners are employed by the City and eligible for PPL, their leave may be taken concurrently, subsequently, or in any other combination they choose.

    • The Policy no longer penalizes employees for not supplementing their PPL or for using sick time to supplement their PPL during weeks 5-12.

    • Pregnancy loss for any reason, after 20 or more weeks, is now a qualifying event for up to 12 weeks of PPL.

  3. Expanded definition(s) of ‘Qualifying Events’ to include more types of families

    • Adoption of a new spouse’s children following marriage, which was previously excluded, is now included as a “Qualifying Event.”

  4. A “Bridge to Eligibility” 

    • This clarifies that until an otherwise eligible employee meets the eligibility requirement of 1 year of employment with the City, they may use any accumulated sick or other leave, to take leave and bridge the gap until they are eligible for PPL. 

    • For example, if an employee’s partner gives birth 5 days before their 1-year anniversary with the City, the employee can use 5 vacation, sick, or personal days to remain out of work until they become eligible for PPL. 

  5. A new leave benefit for those experiencing pregnancy loss

    • This new benefit provides leave with pay for up to 5 days for PPL-eligible employees who experience pregnancy loss for any reason prior to 20 weeks.


NewBostonPost asked the mayor’s office, the Office of Human Resources, the Office of Labor Relations, and the Registry Division why the city reduced its paid abortion leave benefit, but did not hear back on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday.


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