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FAQ on paid parental leave

What is parental leave?

The UFT is the first public-sector union in the history of New York City to negotiate paid parental leave for the people it represents. Eligible UFT-represented employees of the DOE or New York City may take up to six weeks of paid leave following the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child (these are all referred to as covered events). Birth mothers may choose between two options.

  • Option A is to take the traditional maternity leave including any applicable right to borrow days and/or use a grace period.
  • Option B is the new parental leave. Under Option B, immediately following the birth of a child (the day of the birth), the delivering parent may use available CAR days. (No one has to use CAR days.) A birth mother may choose to use up to six weeks of CAR days for a vaginal birth and may use up to eight weeks of CAR days for a C-section birth. But you do not have to use any of them. Following the use of CAR days for up to six or eight weeks, the birth mother can use parental leave for a period of up to an additional six weeks — for a total of 12 to 14 weeks.

A non-delivering parent is eligible for up to six weeks of parental leave, to commence upon the covered event. During this time, either parent will be on an unpaid leave from the Department of Education or the city, and the UFT Welfare Fund will pay them their regular salary while they are out. The city will continue to provide health insurance while on parental leave.

What is a covered event?

A covered event could be the birth of a child, the adoption of a child or the placement of a child in foster care with an eligible member. For adoptions and foster care placements, the child must be under the age of 6.

Can I work while on parental leave?

No, you cannot work while on parental leave, either for the DOE, the city or any other employee.

I had twins/triplets/quadruplets/etc. How much parental leave time am I eligible for?

Multiple births from one pregnancy are considered one covered event, so you will get the same six weeks.

Who is eligible for parental leave?

Both birth and non-birth parents who are represented by the UFT and have a covered event. To be eligible, you must either be: a full-time employee; an administrative employee who works a regular schedule of 20 hours or more per week (inclusive of lunch); an adult education teacher who works a regular schedule of 20 hours or more per week; or an administrative law judge who has worked at least 960 hours in the year preceding the leave. F-status pedagogues are not eligible.

Is there a service requirement for eligibility?

Yes. You must have been an employee for a total of 12 calendar months and in active status in the 12 months preceding the parental leave. If you have taken other leaves of absence prior to the parental leave, you should contact your UFT borough office with questions about their eligibility.

Must I use all my CAR days before beginning my six weeks of paid parental leave?

You do not have to use any CAR days. You may choose to use them. A birth mother may choose to use up to six weeks of CAR days for a vaginal birth and may use up to eight weeks of CAR days for a C-section birth. But you do not have to use any of them. The mother who gives birth and has no CAR days in her bank immediately begins six weeks of paid parental leave.

Can fathers use CAR days?

No. CAR days are for self-care for a medical condition. Get more information about CAR days »

Both parents are represented by the UFT. Can we both take parental leave?

Yes, though the total time on parental leave, not including any maternity leave that the birth mother may take, is six weeks. The six weeks can run concurrently (three weeks each, at the same) or consecutively (three weeks for one parent followed by three weeks for the other parent, or four weeks for one and two weeks for the other, etc.). On the other hand, a birth mother could take six weeks of CAR days, and the partner could take six weeks of parental leave concurrently.

Are surrogates eligible for parental leave?

People who become parents as a result of surrogacy shall be treated in the same manner as a person who adopts a child. In other words, they are eligible for parental leave. Surrogates themselves are eligible for maternity leave, but not parental leave.

When can people start taking parental leave?

Eligible employees can begin taking parental leave on Sept. 4, 2018 (the first day of the 2018-19 school year). Those who have a qualifying event during the summer 2018 may be eligible to take some portion of parental leave depending on when they gave birth.

When do I apply?

Members should apply at least 15 calendar days prior to the anticipated event date. If the application is not completed at least 15 days prior to the event, payment for parental leave may be delayed. In all cases, people have to apply no more than 10 calendar days after the event. The required documentation is the same as is required for maternity leave and/or child care leave. If a person does not apply within 10 days of the event, they will lose the right to parental leave. This is especially important because birth mothers who do not apply will lose the ability to borrow days or to take a grace period. Make sure you apply!

When do I notify the DOE of the actual birth date?

You should give notice of the actual date as soon as possible, but you have to give the DOE notice of the actual date within 10 days.

What if I am unable to give notice of the actual birth date?

There are exceptions to these deadlines for special circumstances, such as a medical condition, a premature birth, a death in the family or reasonable travel necessary to adopt a child.

When is the last day I can amend my application?

You can amend your application through the 10th calendar day following the covered event unless your relevant circumstances have materially changed, e.g., medical condition, death in the family, a material change in family income, or a change in circumstances related to child care.

If I take parental leave and I have another qualifying event in the future, when will I be eligible to take another parental leave?

Members are eligible for an additional parental leave if they have an additional qualifying event after at least 10 months of active status (which includes time spent on the prior parental leave) have passed since the prior qualifying event.

Do I have to return from parental leave?

Yes. Following parental leave, a member can take child care leave. The member must return to active service for a total of 12 calendar months. An employee who does not return to active service for 12 calendar months will be required to pay back the parental leave benefit.

If I am on parental leave on Oct. 1 in 2018, 2019 or 2020, when will I receive the lump sum payment for the retroactive contractual raises?

If you return by the last day of February in the same school year, you will receive your retroactive lump sum on March 15 of that same school year. If you return after the last day of February, you will receive both your missed payment and the next lump sum payout, if any, on the next Oct. 1 payroll.

How does parental leave affect FMLA?

Parental leave runs concurrently with FMLA, but an employee does not necessarily have to be eligible for FMLA to be eligible for parental leave.

How do I apply?

Members will apply online using SOLAS.

How much do I get paid while on parental leave?

During the parental leave period, people will be paid one lump sum payment, representing all of the salary they would have earned if they were working. This payment will also include any lost summer pay that results from being off of DOE payroll while on parental leave.

Can I borrow days and take parental leave?

Birth mothers can choose between two options, Option A and Option B. Option A is the traditional maternity leave, including the ability to borrow days and use the grace period. Option B is the new parental leave. If you choose the new leave, you do not have to borrow days, as you will be paid for six weeks.

Where do I return following my leave?

All employees will return to their school or worksite following parental leave, unless they stay out on child care leave or any other eligible leave, in which case the contractual rules apply.

Can I take parental leave on an intermittent basis?

No. Parental leave must be continuous.

Have a question that's not answered here? Please use our parental leave inquiry form »

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