Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, the University of Utah will begin 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 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. Herring made the announcement to cheers and applause at the University Staff Council meeting on Oct. 3.
All eligible employees receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Employees can use FMLA if they have a serious medical condition or to bond with the child following birth or adoption. Or it can be used to care for family members who have a serious health condition. And most importantly, employment cannot be terminated for the absence and the employee will be able to return to their job.
Previously, when employees used FMLA, sick time accruals would be utilized first and then vacation accruals. Now, eligible parents will receive 50 percent salary for six weeks to extend the use of their sick and vacation accruals.
The rule change was spearheaded by a subcommittee of the University Staff Council—Catherine Scott, Jan Lovett and Marina Gomberg (all volunteers)—who began their work in 2015 to better the lives of their fellow employees. Their time was devoted to reading current research, drafting and redrafting the proposal, and working with administrators and former Staff Council chair Jenny McConnell on finding a middle ground and finalizing the rule.
Among those in attendance Oct. 3 were the three women who dedicated themselves to passing this rule. “Together, with research, creativity, collaboration and persistence, we have been able to get a parental leave policy in place for staff which will only make our institution stronger,” said Scott. “This is the right thing to do, and it’s a huge win for employees planning to have or adopt children. This will help our staff families and increase recruitment and retention rates across campus.”
- Benefit will be 50 percent paid leave for up to six weeks for eligible staff.
- Child must be born or adopted on or after Jan. 1, 2019.
- Employee must hold a full-time benefited staff position and be employed for the prior 12 months.
- Leave must be used within 12 months of birth or adoption.
- Runs concurrently with FMLA. Doesn’t extend or defer FMLA leave.
- If both parents work for the university, the time can be split between each parent.
- Does not apply for staff at the university’s hospitals and clinics.
Read the rule in its entirety here.