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Q&A on the Issues

Paid parental leave

New York Teacher
Teachers celebrate
Jonathan Fickies

President Michael Mulgrew (center) celebrates with members and their families after the UFT became the first public-sector union in New York City to negotiate paid parental leave for its members.

The UFT in 2018 was the first municipal union in New York City to secure paid parental leave for its members. Parents of any gender may be eligible to take paid parental leave following the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child under the age of 6 and receive a lump-sum payment equivalent to their regular compensation. The following FAQ provides answers to the most commonly asked questions from members.

Who is eligible to take paid parental leave?

Birth mothers, fathers, partners of birth mothers, adoptive parents and foster parents may be eligible for parental leave. You must be in a title represented by the UFT, be on the Department of Education payroll for a minimum of 12 calendar months and be a full-time employee or an H-bank/nonpedagogical employee who works 20 hours or more weekly. F-status and per diem employees are not eligible.

When can I start my paid parental leave?

  • If you physically gave birth to a child, you may use your available CAR/sick day balance immediately after your child’s birth for up to a maximum of six calendar weeks (eight weeks for a C-section) before beginning parental leave for an additional six weeks.
  • If you did not give birth to a child, you are eligible for up to six weeks of paid parental leave beginning on the date of the birth or adoption of the child.
  • If both parents work for the DOE, they receive a combined total of six weeks of paid parental leave. The six weeks can run concurrently or consecutively.

How do I apply for paid parental leave?

  1. It is recommended that you apply using SOLAS at least 15 days in advance of the anticipated date of birth or adoption. You’ll be asked if you intend to use your CAR day balance if you are the birth parent and if you plan to take child care leave after your parental leave ends. You will also be asked for the first day you anticipate being absent from work and the last day you anticipate being absent from work (not the date of your return).
  2. After the birth, you must confirm the birth date in SOLAS within 10 days (except if there are extenuating circumstances). The actual date of birth or covered event will be used to determine the final start and end dates of your leave. During these 10 days, you can amend your application if you change your mind about using your CAR balance or taking a child care leave in addition to your paid parental leave.
  3. If the baby arrives and you have not already submitted a leave application, you have 10 calendar days afterward to notify the DOE via SOLAS or you may forfeit your right to take the leave. In the case of extenuating circumstances, you should provide the reason the deadline was missed to ensure the leave can be granted.
  4. Submit required documentation using SOLAS no more than 21 calendar days after the birth.

What do I need to provide for documentation and how do I submit it?

One of the following must be submitted by a birth mother, or the father or partner of a birth mother:

  • A copy of your child’s birth certificate; or
  • A copy of your child’s footprints or a letter from the doctor or hospital, on official letterhead, stating the child’s birth date, parent names and type of delivery

To avoid delays, you may want to use the other options available rather than wait for the arrival of the birth certificate.

For adoption or foster care, you must submit official adoption or foster paperwork.

Supporting documentation may be sent via email to or uploaded directly to SOLAS.

What are the differences between parental leave and maternity leave?

Parental leave provides for six weeks of paid leave. Birth mothers can supplement these weeks by using CAR days in their bank from the day of birth until either their available days run out, or six weeks worth have been used. If a birth mother has the days in her bank, she could receive a total of 12 weeks of paid leave (14 for a C-section). Members cannot borrow days or use a grace period. Members must commit to returning to the DOE for a minimum of one year following the leave.

Maternity leave is a birth mother’s right to use CAR days following a birth for six weeks (eight for a C-section). Birth mothers are allowed to borrow CAR days and use a grace period within the six-week (or eight-week) window. There is no return-to-service requirement, though if a person borrows days, she must either return to service or repay those days to avoid being billed for them. There is no additional right to paid parental leave in this case.

The city continues to provide health insurance in either case.

Can I take child care leave after my parental leave?

Members may apply for an unpaid child care leave immediately following a parental leave. The child care leave can extend to the August following the fourth birthday of their youngest child. But the parent must work for 12 months (they need not be consecutive) after they return from child care leave. If they do not return to work for this duration, they will be required to pay back the parental leave benefit.

If a holiday occurs during my parental leave, is my leave extended?

No. Nonwork days (such as a holiday, a school break or a weekend) during your parental leave will not extend its six-week duration. However, if you are a birth mother who uses CAR days for six or eight weeks after the birth and prior to starting parental leave, you will not be charged for a CAR day on a nonwork day.

If I have my baby over the summer, how long will my parental leave be?

Births over the summer are subject to the same timeframe as births during the school year. A UFT member can use days from their CAR bank for any work days once the new school year begins up to six weeks (or eight weeks following a C-section) after birth, and the six weeks of paid parental leave must be used within 12 weeks (or 14 weeks following a C-section) after the date of birth.

How can I find out more about the different options for parental or maternity leaves?

Attend a virtual Pathways to Parenthood workshop given by the UFT to learn more about maternity leave, parental leave and related health insurance matters. If you have specific questions, call the UFT at 212-331-6311 and ask to speak with a leave specialist.

Related Topics: Paid Parental Leave