Many UFT-represented members have a unique and valuable benefit: the ability to take an extended child care leave and return to their job afterward. This benefit is for those who want to take more time off than paid parental leave or an FMLA benefit will allow.
Although the leave is unpaid and comes with no health benefits, it enables educators and some other city Department of Education employees to leave work for up to four years for the birth or adoption of a child and be able to return to work in rightful seniority order.
You must return to work on the September following your child’s fourth birthday, unless you have or adopt another child, in which case the leave can be extended.
Who is eligible?
Teachers with at least one year of regularly appointed service (full-time work) are eligible for this benefit. Also eligible after one year are attendance teachers, speech teachers, school counselors, social workers and psychologists, school secretaries and lab specialists.
Paraprofessionals qualify for the leave after two years of full-time service.
Occupational and physical therapists, school nurses, audiologists, and education officers and analysts are eligible for a child care leave after a year of full-time work if they have permanent status. Administrative education officers and analysts need three years of permanent full-time service to qualify for the leave.
Long-term substitute teachers and substitute paraprofessionals are not eligible.
The right of return
Teachers and paraprofessionals have the right to return to their former schools in rightful order of seniority following an extended child care leave. No employees accrue any seniority while they are on an unpaid leave.
Speech teachers returning from leaves of less than two years will return to the schools they were assigned in accordance with their seniority.
School counselors, psychologists and social workers have the right of return to their assignment within the district in accordance with their seniority if they return within one year of taking their leave.
Occupational therapists and physical therapists have the right of return from a leave of one year or less to the school or facility where they served at the time of the leave, in accordance with their seniority. If the leave is longer than one year, the right of return is to a comparable position.
Can I work while on leave?
Teachers and other pedagogues can work F-status — a regularly scheduled part-time position at the DOE — or per-diem during their extended child care leave. If they work F-Status for at least half of their title’s full-time program, they are entitled to health benefits.
Outside employment is prohibited, unless the superintendent approves it.
Your responsibilities on leave
Be aware that although you are on leave, you are still considered a DOE employee and are required to check your DOE email regularly.
Starting in the spring, anyone on a leave through the end of the year will be asked to state their intent (to return to work, extend the leave, resign or retire) for the following school year. If you wish to extend your leave for another year, you have to apply for the leave extension.
You are responsible for maintaining your certification requirements while on leave. Reach out to an educational liaison in your UFT borough office at 212-331-6311 for more information.
Lump sum payments
If you are on an extended child care leave on Oct. 1, 2020, you will get that October’s lump-sum payment for money owed from the 2008–09 contract on the next Oct. 1 that you are on payroll, as long as you return by October 2023. If you are owed any lump-sum payments as a result of successive child care leaves, you must remain in active service from Oct. 1, 2023, until all payments are received by October 2027.