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As part of a continuing commitment to improving the quality of life for faculty and staff, Auburn is announcing a new Paid Parental Leave policy for all benefits-eligible employees beginning Oct. 15, 2020. Under the policy, eligible new parents may receive up to six weeks (240 hours) of paid time off at 100 percent of their salary following the birth or adoption of a child occurring on or after the October date.

To qualify, employees must be in a full-time, benefits-eligible position for at least 12 months before the birth or adoption. Nine-month faculty members without a summer appointment can use the paid leave upon return for the fall term, provided it is used within the first six months of the child’s birth or placement. The policy supports eligible employees who are the birth mother, biological father, adoptive mother, or adoptive father, and the leave may be taken anytime within the first six months following a birth or adoption in one-week (40 hour) increments.

Led by the Provost’s Office, in partnership with the Office of Human Resources, the policy is the resulting effort of a dedicated group of faculty and staff charged with developing a plan to assist employees as they adjust to caring for their newborn or adopted child(ren). Chaired by Beth Guertal, professor of turfgrass and nutrient management in the College of Agriculture, the group focused on drafting a policy that prioritizes employees’ physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing while preventing them from having to forfeit paid vacation and sick leave.

“Parental leave for adoption and birth is a policy many of us have been working on for years, and I’m thrilled that this group effort made it happen,” said Guertal. “Our Provost was committed to this, and once we got the basic needs established, Human Resources fully supported the proposal. The work of the committee helped us craft a policy that positions Auburn in the upper tier of schools and universities that offer paid parental leave. In this time of such professional and personal instability, this new policy is a real win.”

Creation of the policy received strong support from the university’s academic and administrative leadership and enabled the committee to develop a plan that promotes critical work-life balance while offering a high-quality, competitive benefit to employees.

“My sincerest thanks to Dr. Guertal for leading the team tasked with creating a policy that will benefit our employees in such meaningful ways,” said Provost Bill Hardgrave. “Through their tireless efforts, we have succeeded in establishing a parental leave policy that demonstrates the value of our employees and strengthens our institution.”

Eligible employees may use paid parental leave once during a rolling 12-month period based on the date of the birth or adoption. The university is already required by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to provide 12 weeks of unpaid time off for a child’s birth or adoption. The new paid parental leave will run concurrently with FMLA time.

Other members of the committee include Haruka Wada, assistant professor of biological sciences in the College of Sciences and Mathematics, Justin Benefield, associate professor of finance in the Harbert College of Business, Selen Cremaschi, Redd Professor of Chemical Engineering in the Ginn College of Engineering, Maran White, General Counsel, and Leanne Fuller, director of human resources services.

The official Paid Parental Leave policy is available in the Auburn University Policy database beginning Oct.15, 2020. For additional questions, please contact the Office of Human Resources at univhr@auburn.edu.