When Jill Hernandez gives birth to her third child this March, she plans to use her accrued vacation and sick leave to stay home with her new son for nine weeks. However, she may have a better option as a Florida Polytechnic University employee.
A new parental leave policy proposed by Florida Poly would mean the associate director of finance and accounting would instead be able to take advantage of eight weeks of paid parental leave, preserving the balance of her accrued leave for use at another time.
“I think this is awesome,” Hernandez said. “Having the time off allows parents to develop a routine with the new baby so that when they go back to work, they have a better work-life balance.”
The University’s proposed policy would allow full-time permanent employees who have been with Florida Poly for at least a year to receive eight to 10 weeks of paid parental leave following the birth of a child or the placement of a child in relation to an adoption.
As proposed, leave may be taken no sooner than a week prior to the birth or placement of a child, and no later than three months after the child’s arrival. An employee using parental leave may then use up to two weeks of accrued leave.
The benefit applies to both mothers and fathers.
“The time after a birth or adoption is so important to the health of a child and the happiness of a family,” said DeAnn Doll, associate director of human resources. “Florida Poly is excited to be able to offer this benefit to new mothers and fathers during a time of major transition in their lives.”
Employees are receiving email communication from the office of the general counsel asking for comments on the policy. They should follow the instructions in the email to offer their input through Feb. 4. The policy will then move to the non-academic policy committee for final consideration.
According to a July 2019 report by UNICEF, a United Nations agency providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children around the world, paid parental leave contributes significantly to healthy infant development and survival by making it easier for parents to pursue breastfeeding and obtain infant medical care.
Florida Poly employees would join the 16% of private industry workers and 25% of state and local government workers who enjoy the benefit nationwide. The federal government approved offering the leave to all federal employees in December 2019.
“This is a very good policy,” said Dr. Ajeet Kaushik, an assistant professor of chemistry. He said he used five weeks of parental leave for the birth of his now 5-year-old daughter while working for a different institution.
“Even though my mother in law was with us and a great help, I was the one who was taking care of the home, cleaning the house and the kitchen, shopping for groceries, cooking, and caring for my wife,” Kaushik said. “It is very important. I did not need to use all 10 weeks, but it was there if I needed it.”
Hernandez said she would love for her husband to be in a similar position.
“My husband doesn’t get any time – he can use vacation time if he wants, but he doesn’t have parental leave,” she said. “If he was able to be at home that entire time and be fully focused with me, it would be phenomenal because whoever the partner is, whoever is co-parenting a child, it’s important that they have that time and experience too.”
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