University of Virginia adds paid parental leave benefit

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The University of Virginia will now offer up to eight weeks of paid parental leave to full-time employees following the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child, the university said last week.

The benefit will be offered to both mothers and fathers starting in January. It will paid at 100% of an employee’s base salary in the six months following the arrival of a child. The leave will be prorated based on the employee’s hours worked; an individual working 30 hours per week will receive 75% of the benefit or six weeks, while those working 40 hours will receive the full eight weeks.

Approximately 18,000 employees are eligible for the benefit, and it will be offered to employees who have been working at the university for at least one year. Wage employees are not eligible.

“Spending time with a child who just joined your family is incredibly important,” says Jim Ryan, UVA president. “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.”

The news follows a similar announcement from Virginia Tech earlier this month, giving more than 7,000 employees eight weeks of paid parental leave in the six months following the birth of a child. The Virginia Tech benefit will be paid at 100% of the employee’s regular salary and went into effect on June 25.

In June, Virginia governor Ralph Northam signed an executive action giving state employees eight week of paid parental leave at 100% of the employee’s salary. Virginia is one of several states that offer paid family leave to state government employees. Other states that have a paid maternal or paternal leave mandate include Delaware, California, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

A spokesperson for the University of Virginia says that prior to Northam’s executive order the university did not offer “stand-alone parental leave benefit for Academic Division and College at Wise staff. Faculty were eligible for a parental leave benefit and medical center team members were eligible for a three-week parental leave benefit for foster and adoption only. University of Virginia Physicians Group did not have a policy.”

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