UVU’s Board of Trustees approved a motion to enact paid medical maternity leave for employees in a temporary emergency policy on Thursday Jan. 17, 2019 in the first Board of Trustee meeting of the year.
Set to become a permanent policy after its temporary enactment, HR Policy 361 is the first maternity policy of its kind to allow for paid maternity leave at UVU.
“All full-time, benefit-eligible employees who are giving birth are eligible for up to six weeks of paid medical maternity leave,” the policy states, “due to the medical necessity of recovering from childbirth.”
Previous human resource procedures allowed for university employees to take 12 weeks unpaid leave while maintaining their current position, as dictated by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
According to the Department of Labor’s website, the FMLA provides unpaid leave to benefit-eligible employees for the following reasons: the birth of a child; the placement of a child for adoption or foster care; and the care for a serious health condition affecting the employee or a member of the employee’s immediate family.
The policy is comparable and prevalent to employee benefits found within the private sector but not as prevalent among university policies in Utah. “The change brings an added competitiveness to attract talent to work at UVU,” said Linda Makin, the Vice President of Planning, Budget, and Human Resources during her presentation of the policy to the Board.
The University of Utah and Brigham Young University currently offer similar employee benefits for paid maternity leave, according to a review of human resource policies of the respective school’s websites.
UVU President Astrid S. Tuminez applauded the new policy and its demonstration of the value it shows towards female university employees.
“In terms of what we say to our women who need time off that is actually paid is to say we value you and we want you to come back,” she said.
Tuminez also reemphasized the value of the policy change during her recent State of the University address on Thursday Jan. 24. Speaking on her own thoughts as a mother, “I think we can all agree, it was and is the right thing to do,” she said. “If we really value families and children, we have to do the right thing.”
The medical benefit is not limited to employees who are pregnant or about to give birth. The paid policy may be utilized for the adoption of a child or the placement of him or her in foster care.
According to research done by the school, male employees were the largest group using parental leave as opposed to female employees which is a statistic that contradicted assumptions made by university administrators.
Further research concluded that previous terms, such as “birth leave” in the policy were antiquated. The new policy brings an updated terminology to HR policies such as replacing “birth leave” with “parental leave.” It also provides employees with a ten-day paid, consecutive leave.