September 4, 2018
Faculty and staff who add children to their families can now take advantage of paid parental leave at the University of Michigan.
The university’s new maternity (childbirth) leave policy provides up to six weeks of paid time off for recovery from childbirth. A separate parental leave benefit provides all eligible parents, including fathers, with up to six weeks of paid time off to bond with a new child. Eligible birth mothers may use both leaves for a total of 12 weeks.
In addition to the new paid leaves, eligibility for extended sick time has been reduced from two years of service to one year for faculty, campus staff and Medical School staff as of Sept. 1. It applies to all uses of extended sick time, including those not related to pregnancy or childbirth. This change does not affect eligibility for Michigan Medicine staff on the PTO plan, which already begins at one year of service.
Multiple university groups have called for more significant parental leave options in recent years, including the Michigan Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the ADVANCE Program, CEW+ and the Voices of the Staff benefits team.
The expansion of paid parental leave at U-M reflects this engagement as well as a growing national dialogue on the benefits of extended leaves for parents, children and families.
“This enhancement to our parental leave options will have significant and positive effects for our faculty and staff who are parents, for their families and for our institution as a whole,” said Lori Pierce, vice provost for academic and faculty affairs and professor of radiation oncology, who co-chaired an advisory committee that recommended the new benefits.
“I applaud the decision to implement these new benefits, which are supported by a growing body of research about the importance of paid leave to support new parents and children.”
The new leave benefits became available as of Sept. 1. They are separate from existing types of time off under the university’s sick time, vacation and Paid Time Off policies. Faculty and staff covered by a collective bargaining agreement should consult their contract regarding eligibility for leave benefits.
Under the new policy, maternity leave is available upon hire to eligible faculty and staff. It must be used as a single block of up to six weeks immediately following delivery. Absences related to pregnancy, prenatal care or a recovery period of more than six weeks will continue to be covered by other types of time off, such as extended sick time.
“This is a positive move to support the well-being of our faculty and staff and their families,” said Lisa Kane Low, associate professor of nursing, obstetrics and gynecology, and women’s studies, and past president of the American College of Nurse Midwives.
“Paid maternity leave, in particular, has been shown to provide important opportunities to support an optimal transition from pregnancy to parenting, including supporting positive recovery following childbirth, bonding with a new infant, improved infant-health outcomes, and increasing the odds an individual returns to work and progresses in their career following childbirth.”
Eligible faculty and staff may take parental leave within one year of a child’s birth or placement for adoption, foster care or legal guardianship. The birth or placement with the parents must occur after the faculty or staff member has completed six months of service. Faculty who are eligible to take a period of modified duties may either do so or take parental leave instead.
A special eligibility period will apply for new parents who added children to their families shortly before the new benefits took effect. Eligible faculty and staff who welcomed a new child between July 1 and Aug. 31 may request up to six weeks of parental leave to use within one year of Sept. 1. Maternity leave is available for births that occur on Sept. 1 or later.
“We’re thrilled to be able to deepen our commitment to supporting our faculty and staff when they expand their families,” said Laurita Thomas, associate vice president for human resources. “I’m confident that these new benefits will also help us recruit and retain exceptional candidates who are looking for a community where they can thrive both personally and professionally.”