Faculty Senate should vote to amend parenting leave policy
Having a child is a life-changing experience.
It impacts the lives of both parents and is an experience both should have the opportunity to be a part of.
Today, Faculty Senate will vote to amend the University of Idaho’s parenting leave policy, and if they pass it, they will substantially improve the university’s current policy.
The changes include extending the allowed leave from 12 to 16 weeks and allowing both parents to take leave if they are employed at the university. The proposed policy would be job-protected and add language to include the continuation of group health insurance coverage within 12 months of the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child.
The current policy states that employees are only eligible for shared leave for “routine pregnancy-related disability and complications of childbirth and pregnancy,” meaning only one parent can take parenting leave unless there is some sort of emergency or a reason both parents would need time off.
If this policy passes, it will provide much-needed support to new families who deserve to be together in the weeks following the birth or adoption of a new child. Simply having a child should be sufficient reason for taking time off. Any other reason is unnecessary justification for parents to be there for each other and for the new member of their family at a time when their life has just been turned upside down, hopefully for the better.
The time after a child is brought into a family should be one of joy and celebration, not one of stress and anxiety because one parent is forced to miss out on the joys — and sleep-deprived days — of new-parenthood, placing the burden entirely on their counterpart.
The current policy places lower priority on families not expanded by natural means. It ignores families who choose adoption or foster care, when these family situations may require the presence of both parents more than any other.
Bringing a child into a new family can take some serious adjustments and have substantial psychological repercussions for everyone involved, so having both parents at home can positively impact the family and their future relationship.
Finally, extending the allowed leave from 12 to 16 weeks is a good thing for families, as it gives them an extra month to adjust to their new family structure, establish a routine and prepare to return to work.
The proposed changes to UI’s parenting policy are positive, and show the university places value in the importance of family. Passing this new policy would only solidify this stance.