University President Jim Ryan announced Tuesday morning the University would offer up to eight weeks of paid parental leave to all qualifying University salaried employees, expanding on an executive order by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam that to state employees.
Wage employees are not eligible for paid family leave, but can receive unpaid job-protected absence for 12 weeks.
“Spending time with a child who just joined your family is incredibly important,” Ryan said in a press release. “Besides giving parents and children a chance to bond, studies have shown that paid parental leave makes children healthier, raises productivity at work and prevents parents from having to choose between taking care of a child and keeping their jobs.”
Previously, parental leave was available only to new mothers who had given birth — excluding fathers or adopting parents — and required the use of vacation time, sick time or short-term disability. Under Northam’s executive order, only “classified” University employees were given access to paid family leave, the press release says, but the new policy expands access to all eligible salaried employees at the University and in the U.Va. Health System. Eligible employees — who can be full- or part-time — must meet specific criteria set by the University.
“Prior to the executive order, there was no stand-alone parental leave benefit for Academic Division and College at Wise staff,” Deputy University Spokesperson Wesley Hester said in an email. “Faculty were eligible for a parental leave benefit and Medical Center team members were eligible for a three-week parental leave benefit for foster/adoption only. University of Virginia Physicians Group did not have a policy.”