Johns Hopkins University employees are getting substantial new benefits to help balance their professional responsibilities and the needs of their brand-new family members.
A Family Leave for New Parents policy that begins July 1 will offer paid leave to full- and part-time employees who have worked at the university for at least one year. Mothers and fathers will have four weeks of leave at full pay after their child is born or placed through adoption, and employees who give birth will have an additional six weeks of paid birth recovery leave.
Previously, faculty and staff relied on the reduced salary from short-term disability, used their accrued leave, or took leave without pay. Now they will be able to use the birth recovery and parental leave to receive their full salary.
An additional policy change will allow employees to use sick days for child bonding as defined by the federal Family Leave Act.
Along with the new policy, the university is increasing the amount of assistance it offers qualified employees to reimburse their expenses related to adopting. The total will rise from $5,000 to $15,000 per child.
Another policy will offer greater accommodations for graduate students and postdoctoral trainees to take time off when they become parents. All eligible full-time graduate students and postdoctoral trainees will receive an eight-week accommodation to care for a new child with no loss in tuition benefits, stipend support, or benefits from a training grant, fellowship, or scholarship.
"These policies reflect our belief that our employees are family," says Ronald J. Daniels, president of the university. "We felt very strongly that we could be helpful to them when they are embarking on one of life's great adventures."
The four weeks of parental leave for faculty and staff can be taken all at once or in full-day increments throughout the year as arranged with each employee's manager. That leave also will be offered to parents of children born or adopted one month before the policy goes into effect, from June 1 to July 1, 2017.
The university's leave will run concurrent with the 12 weeks of job protection guaranteed by the federal Family Medical Leave Act.
Heidi Conway, vice president for human resources, says the new benefits are another important part of the university's commitment to support a work-life balance for employees.
"We have worked to create a benefit that allows faculty and staff to put their energy into caring for a new child while feeling secure about their income and work responsibilities," she says.
On Monday, Daniels hosted an event to share the news with a group of employees who plan to expand their families.
Attendee Vernita Mouzon, who works in the School of Medicine's Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, said she had been concerned about how she would manage the October arrival of her second child because she does not have much leave time saved up.
"I was really praying, honestly, because I was so nervous," she said. "Then I found out about this. It's a huge relief, a weight lifted off my shoulders."
Genevieve Williams, who is in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, said she and her husband have been learning firsthand how difficult, and expensive, the adoption process can be. Now, with the increased financial assistance, and the knowledge that she will have four weeks of leave when her child arrives, "there's peace of mind," she said. "I feel so grateful, like it's going to be OK."
In a message sent to the university today, Daniels said, "I'm truly grateful to all the members of our community—staff, faculty, graduate students, and postdocs—who have highlighted the importance of parental leave, and to the deans, university leaders, and staff members who have worked so hard to make this happen."
Additional details for faculty and staff are on the Human Resources website. Details for graduate students and postdocs are reflected in department handbooks, and the policy is on the university website.