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University Examples: University of California Policies for Pregnant and Parenting Students and Postdocs

University Examples: University of California Policies for Pregnant and Parenting Students and Postdocs

The Pregnant Scholar is always looking for examples of what works in supporting pregnant and parenting students. Our users can submit examples of promising university policies or practices for inclusion in our directory and/or blog.

Smiling mother taking baby for walk on campus.

One of the first university systems to protect student parents with parental leave polices was the University of California. Although the ten campuses of the UC system have long had provisions to offer paid leave for some employee parents, the UC has recently expanded its efforts to provide paid leave and unpaid academic leave to more of its community.

We’ve seen big changes in parental leave policies recently:

  • All graduate student employees are entitled to paid leave.  The parental leave provisions of the UC and Academic Student Employees CBA (pg 20-22), which have been extended to non-union Graduate Student Researchers as well, provide:
      • Unpaid pregnancy/childbirth disability leave (4 months), as protected by CA and Federal Law
      • Six weeks of paid leave for pregnancy disability, childbirth, and related medical conditions (plus two weeks unpaid “baby bonding” leave); or,
      • Four weeks of paid leave to care for a family member or newborn/newly adopted child (plus two weeks unpaid “baby bonding” leave)
  • All UC campuses now provide a year of academic leave for graduate students, as called for in the newly changed CA education codeUC campuses also provide extensions in time to take preliminary and qualifying examinations, and offer part time or reduced study options.
  • UC Postdocs now have access to both childbirth recovery leave and parental leave. Beginning in late 2016, the new Postdoc contract provides:
      • 4 weeks of paid parental leave
      • Unpaid leave, as protected by CA and Federal Law for postdoc employees
      • 24 workdays of paid time off, and 12 days of paid sick leave
      • Unpaid pregnancy/childbirth disability leave (4 months).
  • Some UC campuses have educational leave programs that provide a clear path to leave for undergrads who need to take time off for pregnancy, childbirth, or parenting.

In addition to these  policies, departments are taking action to properly communicate priorities around protecting student parents.  For example, Berkeley began including a notice of accommodation for pregnant and parenting students in its campus-wide notice on student accommodations.  The notice reminds instructors of their responsibilities to excuse students’ medically-necessary absences and make accommodations.  The Berkeley graduate Division is also tracking the usage of it’s new leave policy to ensure it is being implemented effectively.

More work is needed to expand these policies to undergraduates and to foster a supportive culture for student and postdoc parents—but these policies and practices lay a promising foundation.  In particular, these comprehensive policies are proof that public institutions can—and do—provide paid parental leave to students and postdocs.

Have questions about implementing similar policies on your campus? Explore the Pregnant Scholar policy resources, and click here to contact us for assistance.

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