Thanks to the hard work of thousands of UFT members during a lengthy public campaign, the UFT is the first public-sector union in New York City to secure paid parental leave for the workers it represents. This new benefit is in addition to the maternity leave benefits that DOE-employed birth mothers already had.
Effective Sept. 4, 2018, UFT-represented Department of Education employees may be eligible to take up to six continuous weeks of paid parental leave following the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child under the age of 6 (these are all referred to in this Q&A as covered events). Employees who had a covered event before Sept. 4 may still be eligible to take some or all of the six weeks of paid parental leave.
Employees who take paid parental leave will be on an unpaid leave from the DOE. The UFT will pay a lump-sum benefit to these employees that is equivalent to their regular compensation. The city will continue to provide health insurance to employees on parental leave.
When can I start my paid parental leave?
- If you physically gave birth to a child, you have the option to use your available CAR/sick day balance immediately after your child's birth, up to a maximum of six calendar weeks (eight weeks for a C-section) before taking paid parental leave.
- 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 covered event.
- 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 (three weeks each, at the same time) 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.).
Who is eligible to take paid parental leave?
You must be in a title represented by the UFT and meet the following criteria:
- You must be either
a. A full-time employee; or
b. An H-bank/nonpedagogical em-ployee who works a regular schedule of 20 hours or more per week.
- You must have been an employee and on payroll for a minimum of 12 calendar months from your most recent date of hire.
F-status and per diem employees are not eligible for paid parental leave.
Employees who have taken one paid parental leave are eligible to take another paid parental leave after 10 calendar months of active status.
Employees who take paid parental leave must return to work or active status for a total of at least 12 calendar months or they will be required to pay back the benefit.
How do I apply for paid parental leave?
- Apply for your leave at least 15 days in advance of the anticipated date of the birth (or other covered event) using the DOE’s Self-Service Online Leave Application System (SOLAS).
You’ll be asked if you intend to use your CAR/sick day balance, if you plan to take child care leave after the end of your paid parental leave and for your anticipated return date. This information will be provided to your school or work site.
- After the birth of the child or covered event, you have 10 calendar days to notify the DOE via SOLAS. (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.) The actual date of birth or covered event will be used to determine the final start and end dates of your paid parental leave. During these 10 days, you can also amend your application if you have changed your mind about using your CAR balance or taking a child care leave.
- Using SOLAS, submit the required documentation no more than 21 calendar days after the birth or event.
What if I had a baby in the summer of 2018?
- If you physically gave birth over the summer, you are eligible to take paid parental leave starting on Sept. 4 or after the use of your CAR days.
- If you otherwise had a covered event over the summer, you are eligible to take paid parental leave starting on Sept. 4 and ending no later than six weeks from the date of the covered event.
For this summer only, the requirement to apply 15 days in advance and notify the DOE within 10 days of the event has been waived, but employees are encouraged to apply as soon as possible in order to receive payment in a timely fashion.
If I am on parental leave on Oct. 1 in 2018, 2019 or 2020, when will I receive my 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 lump-sum payment 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.
Can I borrow days and also take parental leave?
No. Birth mothers must choose between two options:
a. Take the traditional maternity leave including any applicable right to borrow days and/or use a grace period; or
b. Take the new paid parental leave. Under this option, immediately following the birth of a child, 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. Following the use of her CAR days, the birth mother can use paid parental leave for up to an additional six weeks — for a total of 12 to 14 weeks.
Can I take paid parental leave on an intermittent basis?
No. Paid parental leave must be continuous.