Staff parental leave benefit

Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, the University of Utah began offering full-time benefited staff paid parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child. The new rule provides 50 percent of the staff member’s salary for a cumulative six-week period that can be used intermittently during the first year after the birth/adoption. This does not apply for staff at the university’s hospitals and clinics.

“This new parental leave rule is an important step in helping show our staff they are valued and appreciated for their service to the university,” said Jeff Herring, chief human resources officer.

Continue reading for answers to frequently asked questions.

How do I qualify for Parental Leave?

If you qualify for FMLA leave, you will also qualify for Parental Leave. However, university policy specifically states that an employee must hold a full-time, benefit-eligible position and have been employed with the university for the preceding 12 consecutive months.

How do I apply for Parental Leave?

Complete the Parental Leave Request Form with appropriate signatures and submit it to absencemanagement@utah.edu. The form must be completed by the requesting employee and the employee’s supervisor before the request can be processed.

Employees must also complete the FMLA Request Form for their maternity leave, paternity leave or adoption leave. Parental Leave and FMLA Leave will run concurrently, and FMLA will continue for up to an additional six weeks of unpaid leave after the first six weeks of Parental Leave.

You can also contact the Absence Management Team for additional assistance.

How long can I take Parental Leave? 

An eligible employee may take up to six weeks of partially paid (50 percent) Parental Leave.

If both parents work for the university, they may take a combined six work-weeks for birth or placement of a son or daughter.     

Am I guaranteed the Parental Leave benefit under the FMLA or any other state law?

No. The Parental Leave benefit is a University Policy and is not affiliated with the Family and Medical Leave Act, nor is there any current state law that requires employers to provide Parental Leave.

What if I don’t qualify for FMLA, but am still eligible for Parental Leave?

The Absence Management team will inform you of other potential leave options (such as MLOA) that you can apply for and utilize while on Parental Leave.

How often can I apply/take Parental Leave?

Parental Leave is granted per event to eligible employees. For example, if an employee gives birth to a child, then chooses to adopt a child later in that same year, that employee may receive the Parental Leave benefit for both events.

Does Parental Leave need to be taken all at once or can I take it as needed over a period of time? 

Parental Leave should be taken in a continuous block of time. However, as with FMLA, an employee may take intermittent time off if the employee’s department authorizes the intermittent leave schedule. Employees seeking intermittent leave will need to have their supervisor submit an email to confirm their intermittent schedule has been approved. They will also need to submit the appropriate tracking sheets for each pay period.

If the mother of the child plans to return to work prior to their six-to-eight-week recovery time, they will need to provide a doctor’s note confirming their ability to work.

What notice am I required to give when applying for Parental Leave?

Employees should submit the Parental Leave request form at least 90 days prior to the requested start date.

What happens if my child isn’t born on the expected due date?

That’s OK—we know these things can’t be planned perfectly. If your child is born before or after the expected due date, please let the Absence Management Team know so they can start your leave on the correct date. You should also inform your supervisor or Payroll Reporter to ensure your time in Kronos is entered correctly as well.

What is the university’s policy regarding the use of sick and vacation accruals during Parental Leave? 

Your supervisor will need to enter your Parental Leave time into Kronos so you are paid 50 percent of your salary/wage. You must use your sick and vacation accruals at half your regular work schedule (if you are scheduled to work 40 hours per week and take Parental Leave for the entire week, you will use 20 hours of accruals) to cover the additional time not worked.  However, you may save up to 10 days of vacation by request. You may also choose to use your personal preference leave. Once you use all accruals, the balance of your Parental Leave will only be half paid; the other half will be unpaid/excused.

I elected to save 10 days of vacation when I applied for Parental Leave. Can I use those hours at any time? 

If you are taking your Parental Leave all at once, you may use the vacation hours after all leaves have been completed. If you have been approved to use your Parental Leave intermittently, you may use the vacation hours for non-Parental Leave time off. University Policy states that use of vacation, other than during an approved FMLA/Parental Leave absence, must be arranged in advance with your supervisor to prevent disruption of departmental operations and avoid compromising the efficiency of the organizational unit.

Will I continue to accrue sick and vacation time while I am on Parental Leave?

Yes. You will remain in a paid status while on Parental Leave, which means you will continue to accrue additional sick and vacation time. If you run out of accruals before or when your Parental Leave is over, any additional leave will continue unpaid. At that point, you will stop accruing additional time until you return from leave.

Will I receive pay for holidays and university closure days while I’m out on Parental Leave? 

Yes. University Policy provides that if an employee works or receives payment for time (including the use of accruals) during the week of a holiday, the employee receives pay for the holiday. However, if the employee is on unpaid leave during that week, the holiday is not paid.

Are holidays and university closure days counted as part of my Parental Leave time taken? 

No. Because you will be paid at least 50 percent of your salary/wage, holidays and university closure days will not count as Parental Leave taken. If the university (including just the employee’s department) closes and employees are not expected to report for work for one full week or more, the days the department is closed do not count against the employee’s Parental Leave.

What happens to my university benefits while I’m on an approved Parental Leave? 

While you are using sick and vacation leave, your benefits will continue as if you are actively at work.  Because you will be paid 50 percent of your salary while on Parental Leave, your benefit costs will be deducted from your paycheck as they would normally. If your Parental Leave is over and if your accruals are exhausted, your benefits may be continued by paying a portion or all of the cost of the benefits each month. Contact the HR Solutions Center at 801-581-7447 for information on continuing your benefits during an unpaid leave of absence or dropping coverage.

When do I need to submit tracking forms? 

Tracking forms will need to be submitted each pay period for employees on Parental Leave. Your supervisor will need to indicate any costs associated with your replacement while you are on leave on the form. If you have been approved to take Parental Leave intermittently by your department, you must indicate the Parental Leave taken on the same tracking form that your supervisor completes, even if you don’t take any Parental Leave. You must sign the completed tracking form and confirm that the information is correct. After you sign it and your supervisor has reviewed and approved it, send it to the Absence Management Team. If you do not submit a tracking form, all leave taken during that pay period may be designated as Parental/FMLA leave.

What should I do when my Parental Leave is over?

When your Parental Leave is over, please confirm with your supervisor and the Absence Management team that you are beginning the next portion of your maternity/paternity leave. You will need to enter any sick or vacation time in Kronos or with your department to cover your absences.

If you would like to return to work before or when your Parental Leave is scheduled to end, please contact your supervisor and the Absence Management team at least two days prior to your desired return date. A return to work notice will be required for employee’s returning early from maternity leave.