March/April 2017 Advocate: Improvements in parental leave

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

New legislation provides improvements in parental leave for faculty

by Monica Malamud, AFT 1493 President

Over the last few years, I’ve heard concerns from a number of expecting and new parents about the lack of clarity in the District’s implementation of leaves.  The Maternity/Child Bonding Leave section of our contract (Article 11.9) has references to District policy and to legislation (Family Medical Leave Act and California Family Rights Act), which made it difficult for these parents to understand exactly what our contract language meant.

While our contract language has not changed recently and the California Family Rights Act remains in effect, recent state legislation–AB 2393, which was signed by the Governor on September 30th and took effect on January 1st, 2017–has brought improvements for community college faculty with growing families.

What follows is a summary of what parents can expect in our District.  It includes the most up-to-date information on parental leaves and reflects the most recent changes enacted with the passage of AB 2393.

What is “parental leave”?

Parental leave is “leave for reason of the birth of a child of the employee, or the placement of a child with an employee in connection with the adoption or foster care of the child by the employee”, Ed. Code §87780.1(f)

Who qualifies?  

Both mothers and fathers qualify, but they no longer need to work 1250 hours in the preceding 12 months, which was the standard before AB 2393 became effective on January 1.

How long can “parental leave” last?

Parental leave can be for a total of twelve weeks in a twelve-month period.  (Several faculty members reported difficulties with our District’s Human Resources Department regarding “when the clock starts”—When a baby is born?  When the semester starts?  The answer:  parents can take twelve weeks of parental time off, during the first year of the child entering the family; no time or sick days are “used” outside of regular work days).

Is this paid leave?

It is paid, but it is not automatic.  A parent may use accrued sick leave to get paid at his/her normal rate.  If sick leave is exhausted, then the employee is entitled to differential pay (per our contract, 11.1.5).  Differential pay is the difference between the employee’s salary and the District’s cost to hire a substitute.  Although our contract makes reference to “leave without pay” twice in article 11.9 (Maternity/Child Bonding Leave), according to current law, the twelve weeks of parental leave may qualify for paid leave (at the regular rate if using sick leave, and at the differential pay rate when sick leave is exhausted).

The sections of AB 2393 that concern academic employees of community colleges are now incorporated as law in Education Code §87780.1.  Our District must abide by §87780.1, or our contract, whichever provides for greater rights for faculty regarding parental leave.

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