| 03.21.2018

UI to provide four more weeks of parenting leave


Faculty Senate approved parenting leave policy, extending leave time

Parenting leave was extended to 16 weeks for University of Idaho employees and is now available to both parents after receiving unanimous approval by Faculty Senate Tuesday.

Ruth Funabiki, head of Technical Services for the College of Law, introduced the policy last week. Faculty Senate returned to the topic for further discussion and approved the new language to expand parental leave.

The most substantial changes include increasing the allotted parenting leave time from 12 to 16 weeks and, if both parents are UI employees, both are eligible for a full leave of absence.

Previously, only 12 weeks of parenting leave was available for a UI employee couple. The approved policy more than doubles the length of time a couple can spend with the new addition to their family.

“There’s a lot of harmony on that particular recommendation,” Funabiki said.

The extension received positive feedback from Faculty Senate.

“I think the expansion of 16 weeks is justifiable,” said Liz Brandt, Faculty Senate member from the College of Law.

Andrew Brewick, Faculty Senate member from Advising Services, said he’s happy to see the policy changed because it directly relates to his family situation.

“As a member of a couple, both individuals working for this university, and the proud owner of an 8-month-old, I think this is a tremendous improvement,” Brewick said.

Even senators who do not have young children, or are not married, agreed the 4-week extension of the parenting leave is a positive move for the university.

“At 16 weeks, you’re barely out of the parenting zombie stage,” said Kattlyn Wolf, Faculty Senate member from the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. “I think 16 weeks is great.”

Brian Mahoney, Faculty Senate member from Campus Recreation, said although he doesn’t have children, he has witnessed the struggles his colleagues have had with figuring out leave when having a child or adopting.

Brandt said she has never worked at an institution besides UI that doesn’t provide paid parenting leave, and believes UI is behind other institutions in providing that access.

“I think it’s incumbent on an institution to provide some sort of (paid) parenting leave to employees who are having kids,” Brandt said. “We don’t do that, and I think it’s shameful.”

The new policy allows employees to use sick leave or other accured paid time off before using unpaid time for parenting leave.

Marty Ytreberg, Faculty Senate chair, said he knows of some universities that provide employees with a semester off for parenting leave, and believes the leave extension moves UI closer to this standard.

The new policy includes leave time for birth, adoption or foster placement of a child.

Kent Nelson, UI general counsel, said the parenting leave might be taken anytime in the 12-month period after the child arrives, but must be completed by the end of the period.

Faculty Senate discussed language to make employees eligible for shared leave for parenting purposes. However, they amended the policy to exclude shared leave language from the parenting policy until Faculty Affairs irons out the kinks.

“It’s important (to note) that shared leave is not without cost,” Nelson said.

Funabiki said she would return in the future with an updated proposal on shared leave in relation to parenting.

Katelyn Hilsenbeck can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu

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