Paid Parental Leave
Click below to expand the list of frequently asked questions.
Paid Parental Leave Questions
How does Penn State define Paid Parental Leave?
Paid Parental Leave is defined as a four (4) week period of salary continuation for the purpose of bonding with a newborn, a newly adopted child under the age of 18, or upon legal guardianship of a child under the age of 18. If the adoption or legal guardianship involves a child who is incapable of self-care because of mental or physical disability, the age limit of 18 may be waived. Paid Parental Leave is paid at 100 percent of the eligible employee’s salary at the time the leave begins.
When does Paid Parental Leave become available?
Paid Parental Leave is available to full-time benefits-eligible staff and non-tenure-line academic employees that accrue vacation (“eligible employees”) for births, adoptions, or legal guardianship that take place on or after the policy’s effective date. The University will launch the Paid Parental Leave policy for all eligible employees on July 1, 2020. Eligible employees who have 12 consecutive months of full-time service prior to the effective date of the Paid Parental Leave policy will be immediately eligible. Otherwise, eligible employees will qualify for Paid Parental Leave once they have completed their first 12 months of consecutive full-time service, provided the qualifying event occurs on or after the date of eligibility.
Who is eligible for Paid Parental Leave?
All full-time benefits-eligible Penn State staff and academic employees who: 1) accrue vacation, and 2) are ineligible for leave under HRG18, are eligible for Paid Parental Leave under this policy.
How are ‘academic employees who: 1) accrue vacation, and 2) are ineligible for leave under HRG18’ identified?
Such benefits-eligible employees are full-time faculty who earn vacation in the Applied Research Lab (ARL) and University Libraries.
Does this benefit apply to collective bargaining units?
Employees who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement should consult the terms of their agreement to determine whether they are eligible for this benefit.
Who is not eligible for Paid Parental Leave under this Policy?
The following groups of employees ARE NOT eligible for Paid Parental Leave under this policy (this list may not be all-inclusive):
- Grandfathered HR05 employees
- Fixed-term academic employees who do not accrue vacation
- Tenured/tenure-eligible academic employees (refer to HRG18 - Paid Parental Leave)
Are eligible employees required to take the Paid Parental Leave consecutively?
Yes, any time taken under the Paid Parental Leave program must be utilized consecutively within the first 90 days following the birth, adoption, or legal guardianship of the child/children. No intermittent Paid Parental Leave is permitted.
Is the amount of Paid Parental Leave different for multiple births (twins, triplets, etc.), that occur at the same time?
No, multiple births or adoptions at the same time does not increase the length of Paid Parental Leave provided.
Does the benefit apply to individuals who experience a stillborn or miscarriage?
Although Paid Parental Leave does not apply, the University has provisions in place for those who experience these types of losses Please contact Absence Management for further guidance.
Does this program benefit apply to individuals who become foster parents?
No, however, foster parent(s) may be eligible for Family and Medical Leave (FML) - imbed link to HRG11.
May I take Paid Parental Leave if I or my child gets sick and/or may I use it for eldercare?
No, this leave is provided in order to bond with a newborn, a newly adopted, or upon legal guardianship of a child/children. Paid Parental Leave does not include time away from work if you are sick or for taking care of a sick child or elders. Click here for more information on leaves of absence.
Is Paid Parental Leave available on a reduced or intermittent schedule basis if the employee wishes to work while taking leave?
No, Paid Parental Leave is intended to allow a new parent/legal guardian to be completely relieved of full-time work duties to bond with their child/children.
Is there a limitation on the number of Paid Parental Leaves that may be taken during my career with the University?
Paid Parental Leave can be used once during a 12-month period from each event. There is no limit on the number of times eligible employees can access Paid Parental Leave during their career at the University.
If both parents work at the University, are both eligible for Paid Parental Leave?
Yes, if each parent meets the eligibility requirements under this benefit, each is entitled to take up to four (4) weeks of Paid Parental Leave within the first 90 days following the birth, adoption, or legal guardianship of a child/children.
Can I take Paid Parental Leave and then take time off using FML separately?
FML will run concurrently with the Paid Parental Leave if the eligible employee qualifies for FML. Eligible employees may continue FML if eligibility criteria is met and FML time is not exhausted.
Will the University pay Parental Leave retroactively?
Can a person donate their Paid Parental Leave to another individual? Spouse? Partner?
Am I eligible for Paid Parental Leave if I am a surrogate or donor?
No, the benefit is for bonding time with child/children for new or adoptive parents who will have legal custody.
What if I am on a Performance Improvement Plan? Am I still eligible for Paid Parental Leave?
I’m a full-time reduced schedule (HR105) employee. What happens if I have a qualifying event (birth, adoption, or legal guardianship) under Paid Parental Leave?
There are a few scenarios that could occur for an HR105 employee. See below:
- You are a year-round employee that works reduced hours and you have a qualifying event.
- Your salary is continued at the HR105 percentage, as Paid Parental Leave, for up to 4 weeks within the first 90 calendar days from the initial date of the qualifying event.
- You are a “months off” employee who is actively working during the time the qualifying event (birth/adoption/legal guardianship) occurs.
- Your salary is continued, as Paid Parental Leave, for the period of “months on” schedule, for up to 4 weeks.
- If your “months off” schedule begins during the Paid Parental Leave period, Paid Parental Leave will be discontinued during your regularly-scheduled “months off.” If you return to your regularly-scheduled “months on” schedule within 90 calendar days from the initial date of the qualifying event (birth/adoption/legal guardianship), Paid Parental Leave can be resumed until the end of the 90 calendar-day window or the 4 weeks of Paid Parental Leave is exhausted, whichever occurs first. If the 90 calendar-day window is exhausted during the scheduled “months off,” any balance of the 4 weeks Paid Parental Leave is forfeited.
- You are a “months off” employee who is not actively working at the time of the qualifying event (birth/adoption/legal guardianship).
- Paid Parental Leave is not applied during the “months off” schedule.
- If you return to your regularly-scheduled “months on” within 90 calendar days from the initial date of the qualifying event (birth/adoption/legal guardianship), you are eligible for up to 4 weeks of Paid Parental Leave for the balance of the 90 calendar-day window. The 90 calendar-day clock begins at the initial date of the qualifying event (birth/adoption/legal guardianship). Once the 90 calendar-day window is exhausted, any balance of the 4 weeks Paid Parental Leave is forfeited.
- Paid Parental Leave is not applied to employees who experience a qualifying event (birth/adoption/legal guardianship), if the “months off” schedule coincides with the entirety of the 90 calendar-day window following the initial date of the qualifying event (birth/adoption/legal guardianship).
For other unique scenarios, please contact Absence Management to discuss.
Will my benefits continue while I am on Paid Parental Leave?
Yes, current benefit elections will continue while you are on leave at the employee contribution rate. As a reminder, dependent coverage can be added, as these qualifying events are designated as IRS-defined life event changes. Please click this link for more information.
Do I still accrue vacation and sick leave while I’m out on Paid Parental Leave?
Will my accrued time (sick, vacation, personal, and/or holiday compensatory time) be reduced as a result of taking Paid Parental Leave?
Paid Parental Leave does not reduce an eligible staff member’s balance of accrued time. However, in certain situations, eligible employees may opt to apply their accrued time to extend bonding time.
Can Paid Parental Leave be combined with other leave time?
Yes. Depending on your benefit elections, accrued sick and vacation balances, and the specific qualifying event, other leave time may also be available to your circumstances. For specific guidance, please contact Absence Management to discuss.
How is timekeeping handled when using leave under this policy?
Timekeeping is handled the same way as it is for other paid time off. Workday will be updated to include time off type for Paid Parental Leave.
Will Paid Parental Leave be included in my regular paycheck or as a separate check?
Your leave will be included in your regular paycheck and is considered part of your ordinary income that will be reported on your annual Form W-2.
How is Paid Parental Leave handled with respect to University-established holidays?
If a holiday occurs while the employee is on Paid Parental Leave, such day will be charged to holiday pay. However, such holiday pay will not extend the total Paid Parental Leave entitlement. For Paid Parental Leave that occurs during December break, the leave will be suspended for the period of the December break and resume upon normal University operations.
Can I use leave before a birth, adoption, or legal guardianship of a child/children?
No. Paid Parental Leave is only used for the weeks after the qualifying event occurs.
If I am adopting, or upon legal guardianship of, a child/children, and I need a time out of the office for purposes of processing the event (e.g., travel), is that time covered under Paid Parental Leave?
No, Paid Parental Leave eligibility begins from the date of the legal adoption or guardianship.
If an eligible employee does not use their entire Paid Parental Leave by the end of the 90-day period, is the remaining time paid out, or does it carry-over?
At the end of the 90-day period following the qualifying event, any remaining leave is not paid out, and it is not added to any future leave. In other words, any unused Paid Parental Leave is forfeited.
Will I need to pay back Paid Parental Leave if I leave the University?
Do I need to exhaust my sick leave prior to taking advantage of this benefit?
Are changes to custody of my child eligible for Paid Parental Leve?
No, changes to custody do not apply to provisions of the Paid Parental Leave policy, however you may be eligible for other leave options.
Are mandatory retirement plan contributions taken while I am on Paid Parental Leave?
Members of TIAA, the Penn State Alternate Retirement Plan, will have retirement contributions taken from Paid Parental Leave pay. However, SERS/PSERS does not recognize as retirement or service creditable the pay you receive while on parental leave, and, therefore, no contributions can be made to your retirement plan in connection with such pay. If you have questions regarding the impact on your retirement benefits, please contact a retirement counselor: or, .
Can someone take less than four (4) weeks, if they choose?
Eligible employees are encouraged to take advantage of four (4) consecutive weeks of Paid Parental Leave since intermittent leave is not permitted. If the eligible employee wishes to return to work prior to the expiration of the available four (4) weeks of Paid Parental Leave, they may do so. However, the remainder of the four (4) weeks will be forfeited.
Health Advocate, Penn State's Employee Assistance Program (EAP), is always there to help while our employees are on parental leave as well as their transition back to work. For more information, review the helpful list of resources from Health Advocate or contact them directly at 866.799.2728 or via the web at healthadvocate.com/members.