Johns Hopkins enhances family benefits

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Johns Hopkins University has beefed up its family-friendly benefits for its employees, introducing a new paid parental leave policy and increasing financial assistance for adoption.

The new leave policy, which kicked in July 1, includes four weeks of paid family leave for full- and part-time staff after a birth or adoption, in addition to six weeks of paid birth recovery leave for new moms. These benefits are offered to employees who have worked for the university for at least a year and will run concurrently with FMLA.

“Our workforce is changing. It’s been changing now for decades,” says Heidi Conway, vice president for human resources at Johns Hopkins University. “For the younger generation, the millennial generation, it became clear as these folks enter the organization that they don’t have that type of leave to supplement adoption or birth. It became an imperative as we started to look at it.”

Previously, faculty and staff relied on short-term disability and accrued paid time off; employees also took unpaid time off. An additional policy change will allow employees to use their sick days for child bonding.

The university’s new policy also triples the reimbursement rate to help employees with expenses related to adoption — from $5,000 to $15,000.

“Adoption has changed so much,” Conway says. “Ninety percent of adoptions are private and the costs are significant. This goes a long way for those families.”

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Although Johns Hopkins doesn’t have high volumes of employees going through an adoption process, Conway says the university looked at what its peers were offering and matched it.

“We were bringing it up to the industry benchmark,” she says.

Full-time graduate students and postdoctoral trainees also will be eligible for an eight-week accommodation to care for a new child with no loss in tuition benefits, stipend support, or benefits from a training grant, fellowship or scholarship, according to the university.

Johns Hopkins isn’t the only university who recently enhanced its leave program. Indiana University this month also announced a new policy, offering six weeks of paid parental leave for full-time staff after a birth or adoption; the policy went into effect July 1.

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