To: Full-Time Officers of the Libraries
From: Jonathan R. Cole, Provost and Dean of Faculties
Re: Parental Policies of the University
Date: January 29, 1999

   The University, in response to a request by the Libraries' administration, has broadened the range of leave options available to full-time Librarians who are responsible for raising small children. These changes have been designed to provide individuals with additional flexibility and time so that they may care for their families and still pursue their careers. The new options augment rather than replace previously existing policies and, therefore, create additional alternatives from which Librarians can choose. To help in making those choices, the enclosed statement describes all of the University's parental leave options for Librarians and how they relate to one another. I hope that you will find the statement useful. If you have any questions about the contents of the statement, please feel free to contact Bob Reiter, Director of Finance and Human Resources for the Libraries, at 854-7636; or Pearl Spiro, Manager of Academic Appointments in my office, at 854-3813.

Officers of the Libraries
Parental Leave Options

   The University offers three options to Officers of the Libraries who are parents of new children: medical leaves in the case of women with newborn infants, child care leaves, and workload relief. To apply for any of these options, an Officer of the Libraries should submit a letter to his or her supervisor, with a copy to the Director of Human Resources, requesting the leave and indicating when he or she may be expected to return to full-time service. In the case of a medical leave, the request should be accompanied by documentation from a doctor which indicates the period during which the Officer will be unable to work. After receiving the endorsement of the appropriate supervisor and the Director of Human Resources, the request will be reviewed by the Libraries Planning and Budget Committee, and will be forwarded to the Vice Provost for Academic Administration, who authorizes leaves and parental appointments on behalf of the President. Requests for these options should be submitted in a timely manner so that authorization may be obtained before they are scheduled to begin.

   For the purpose of these policies, an Officer of the Libraries is the "primary parent" if he or she is a single parent or, where there are two parents, if the other is working and not at home full-time. Officers of the Libraries may employ a day-care provider or enroll their children in a day-care program and still qualify as the primary parent. When both parents work at the University, only one may be considered the primary parent at any given time.

   Disabilities arising from childbirth and the need to care for new children are also covered by the provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which was signed into law in 1993. That act guarantees parents of new-born and newly adopted children up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave in each calendar year, provided that they have held an appointment for one year prior to the leave. Therefore, whenever an Officer of the Libraries elects one of the parental options and it covers a period in which the individual is also entitled to an FMLA leave, the parental option will also be deemed to meet the University's obligations under that act.

   The benefits of an Officer of the Libraries on a parental option may be affected, depending upon the amount of salary they receive. During periods in which they are paid full salary (for example, a medical leave with salary or workload relief for six months), their benefits continue without interruption. Those who elect to work a reduced schedule and will receive partial salary during that period do not need to make special arrangements to maintain their benefits, provided that the amount of the partial salary is sufficient to cover their premiums which will be deducted from their monthly paychecks in the normal manner. The University's contributions to pension accounts and other salary-related benefits, such as long-term disability and general life insurance, will, however, be reduced, as such contributions/benefits are based upon salary received.

   When the parental option takes the form of an unpaid leave, pension and University Spending Account contributions and payments into tax-deferred annuities cease. Officers may continue to participate in other fringe benefits plans by paying their appropriate share of the premiums. Those premiums may vary, depending upon the provisions of the individual benefit plans. They also will be affected when a portion of the leave is designated as meeting the FMLA requirements. Officers should, therefore, refer to Working at Columbia or contact the Benefits Office for further information on their benefits and how to maintain them if any portion of their parental option is without salary.

Medical Leaves for Pregnancy and Childbirth

   A pregnant officer is entitled to a medical leave of absence for the period surrounding the birth of her child. The leave is typically eight to twelve weeks in duration, but it can be for any period that her doctor certifies that she is unable to work. As with other medical leaves, the University reserves the right to have the officer seen by a physician of its own choosing.

   The University treats disabilities arising from pregnancy and childbirth like any other nonoccupational disability. The officer receives full salary and benefits under the University's salary continuation plan if the period of leave is six months or less. If the officer is disabled for a longer duration, she is placed on a medical leave of absence without salary after the six months of salary continuation ends, and the University's long-term disability carrier, CIGNA, starts to make payments equal to a portion of her salary.

Child Care Leave

   The biological mother of a new-born infant may take a leave of absence without salary before and after the period of disability surrounding the birth of the child. She may also work a reduced schedule on a partial leave of absence, during which she is paid a portion of her base salary equal to the percentage of time she is working. The total period of leave, including the time on a medical leave, normally may not exceed one year, except in cases of extended disability arising from pregnancy and childbirth. Fathers of new-born infants and newly adopting parents may also take full or partial leaves for up to one year to care for their new children.

Workload Relief Plan

   In order to be eligible for one of the workload relief plans, one must be a full-time Officer of the Libraries, have vested pension benefits with the University, and be primarily responsible for the care of a new-born child or a newly adopted infant of one year or less.

   Officers of the Libraries who meet these eligibility requirements may apply for workload relief for up to one year for each of two children. The workload relief options are defined as follows:

  1. Full salary for six months, working 14 hours per week (2 days) in the Libraries
  2. Full salary for one year, working 24.5 hours per week (3.5 days) in the Libraries
  3. Half salary for one year, working 14 hours per week (2 days) in the Libraries

The workload relief plan was designed to replace the combination of medical and/or child care leaves for individuals who meet its eligibility requirements, however, eligible Officers may still elect to take those leaves rather than ask for workload relief if they wish, for example, to provide no service while taking care of their new children or to work schedules that differ from those offered by the workload relief options.

   An Officer of the Libraries to whom workload relief has been granted will be given the choice of either extending the scheduled rank-promotion review by the same amount of time of the workload relief option or refusing such an extension.

   An Officer of the Libraries who utilizes a workload relief option is expected to return to the University for at least one year of full-time service after its completion.

January, 1999
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