FMLA Leave for Birth of a Child
The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), entitles eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period during pregnancy and following the birth of a child. You are eligible for FMLA if you have been employed either part-time or full-time with the University for at least 12 months and have worked at least 1250 hours in the 12 months prior to your absence.
Because University policies typically exceed the FMLA 12-week provision, you should refer to the applicable University policy or union agreement to answer any questions about your absence (length, pay, etc.). FMLA time and absences provided by University policies run concurrently.
FMLA requires that all covered absences are recorded as FMLA. Because the overarching philosophy of the FMLA regulations is that you cannot be disadvantaged due to an absence for an FMLA qualifying event, these absences must be recorded correctly so that errors are avoided when making decisions about promotions, merit pay, tenure, etc.
- HRG 11 Family Medical Leave
- HR 16: Leave of Absence
- Option to Continue Benefits Form During Periods of Non-Employment For Faculty and Staff
Leave of Absence Due to the Birth of a Child
A leave of absence should be requested prior to the expected due date of the child by contacting Absence Management. When requested, the appropriate documentation will be provided for the leave of absence.
If FMLA eligible, the employee will been placed on an intermittent FMLA leave, from the date of the FMLA approval until the estimated due date. This allows the employee to have the option to use FMLA time for prenatal appointments. If no time is used as FMLA time for prenatal appointments, no time will be deducted from the 480 FMLA hours. The intermittent leave will also allow Absence Management (AM) to check in with the employee around the estimated due date so AM can place the employee on the continuous leave. Benefit premiums while an employee is on FMLA leave will be charged at the regular rate.
Please note: Employee is responsible for notifying AM once the child is born/placed in your care. Notifying AM of the start of leave does NOT automatically add the dependent to benefits; New dependants must be added in Workday.
If the employee is not FMLA eligible, they will be placed on a maternity leave (for birth mothers) or New Child leave (non-birth mothers and fathers) for the estimated due date. This will also allow AM to check in with the employee around the estimated due date so AM can place the employee on the continuous leave. Benefit premiums while an employee is on maternity leave will be charged at the regular rate, however, New Child leaves are charged at the full rate (employee + employer).
For birth mothers, the first 6 (up to 8) weeks of the continuous leave is the birth/medical incapacity period. During this period, the employee is required to use their sick time. After the 6 (or 8) week follow-up appointment, AM will need a copy of the return-to-work note (even if the employee is not returning at this time) so they can end the medical portion of the employee’s leave and begin the bonding leave. At that time, the employee can opt to use all, part, or none of their other earned time. Please note: Sick time cannot be used during the bonding portion of your leave. After earned time is exhausted, the employee will be placed on an unpaid parental leave for the remainder of the FMLA hours.
Non-birth mothers and fathers have the option to use all, part, or none of their 40 hours of family sick, vacation, and other earned time. Please note: Sick time, outside of the 40 hours of family sick, is not permitted.
Employees are able to break up their 12 weeks of FMLA into two separate continous leaves. This type of leave schedule should be pre-approved prior to the start of the leave. For example; an employee may request to take 2 weeks following the birth of the child, return to work for a couple months, and then take the remainder of their 12 weeks of FMLA leave in a second continous leave (using any paid time at once prior to electing unpaid time), within a year from the date of birth.
All time off should be entered in Workday at the start of the leave by the employee, timekeeper, or the employee’s supervisor. If the employee’s expected return to work date changes during the course of their leave, it is their responsibility to notify AM in order for the leave to be accurately reflected.
Following the FMLA leave, all staff and tech service employees are entitled to remain out of work on a Child Care leave until the child is one year of age, however, any benefit premiums will be charged at the full rate (employee + employer rate).
Intermittent or Partial Leaves
Penn State does not allow “intermittent” bonding, however partial leaves are able to be requested. Partial leaves are pre-approved (by the employee’s unit/supervisor based on work unit flexibility/workload) set schedules such as a reduced hours per day or reduced days per week. This schedule would need to be agreed upon prior to the start of the leave.
AM will send the employee a “Leave Details Form” prior to their leave. This form indicates how much of the employee’s optional earned time the employee plans to use, who the employee’s Workday delegates are if the employee’s role requires a delegate, and if the employee wishes to keep their benefits if/when the employee enters an unpaid status.
You may want to add your new dependent(s) to the University's health care plan, you may want to revise your beneficiary information, and you may want to change your participation in flexible spending accounts. All of these changes can be completed within the Benefits section of Workday. Some benefits require that you add your child within 31 days of the birth or the date of Intent to Adopt to avoid waiting periods for coverage.
Flexible Work Arrangements
Alternate work arrangements are encouraged when, in the opinion of the supervisor, the University's work needs can be efficiently and effectively met. The purpose of flexible work schedules is to provide a greater capability for each employee to establish their own program of working hours within the workweek without changing the number of hours to be worked.
Telecommuting is a work arrangement in which employees, for a portion of their scheduled work hours, perform their regular job responsibilities away from their primary business location utilizing telecommunication and information technology as appropriate. These arrangements can be either temporary or ongoing.
University and departmental demands are a priority throughout any alternative work arrangement - the arrangement must be transparent to customers in terms of service and quality. Alternative work arrangements are flexible and subject to change as business needs change.
Release from Teaching Responsibilities for Birth Mother
If you are a tenured or tenured-eligible faculty member, you have the option to either take a leave of absence without pay or to be relieved of classroom and classroom-related teaching responsibilities at full pay during the semester of the birth. In special circumstances, depending perhaps on the timing of the birth, the semester free of teaching might follow the one in which the actual birth occurs.
If you choose to be relieved of teaching responsibilities at full pay, you will be expected to pursue scholarly work, student advising, research and other professional service, including departmental and University service, as appropriate and in keeping with reasonable expectations for flexibility, for the period of the semester that does not involve paid leave.
Staying of the Tenure Provisional Period
The promotion and tenure policy provides for the staying of the provisional period if you are a tenure-track faculty member. Upon the written request, the Executive Vice President and Provost may grant a temporary staying of the tenure provisional period; if in their judgment, your academic performance would be adversely affected by the responsibility as primary care giver after the birth or adoption of a child.
- AC 23: Staying of the Provisional Period for Tenure-Track Faculty
- HRG-18 Paid Parental Leave for Faculty
If you choose to nurse or breastfeed after returning to work, accommodations will be made to allow you a place and time to express milk for up to two years following the birth of your child. You will be allowed a reasonable amount of break time during work hours. If possible, those times should run concurrently with normal break and meal periods. Time allowed in excess of normal break and meal periods will be preferably be covered by flexible work arrangements. You will need to work with your supervisor to establish a mutually convenient time.
Penn State’s Breastfeeding Support Program sponsors several lactation stations on the University Park campus and one at Penn State Abington. These rooms are available to faculty, staff, and students. Additional lactation stations may be established by colleges, campuses, and administrative areas by contacting the Breastfeeding Support Program. If a lactation station is not available and you do not work in a private office, then a private, secure, and sanitary area, other than a restroom will be made available for you. Arrangements for breastfeeding should be made with your supervisor, prior to or during your maternity leave.