Amanda Guevara | The Poly Post

Assembly bill could give CSU employees a full semester of parental leave

By Amanda Guevara, March 21, 2023

After the introduction of Assembly Bill 1123 in the month of February, California State University employees who are new parents may be able to have a semester of parental leave.

As of right now, CSUs may give parents up to six weeks of paid leave under the Paid Family Leave program. The program allows employees to take time off work to care for a child, spouse, parent,  grandchild, domestic partner or sibling, as well as to bond with a child after birth or adoption. 

For an employee to receive more time, even a semester for parental leave, they would have to first reach tenure.

Frances Mercer, an associate professor for biological sciences, shared CSU employees including students that are staff members, currently only have  six weeks of paid parental leave as it is, and explained that most people want to take a whole semester of leave. She added professors who are new parents tend to take on a lighter workload and it is almost like they didn’t have any leave, instead of taking the six weeks of paid leave, and the rest of the semester off.

“It’s hard to be present and engaged in your classes and with your students if you’ve got a newborn at home,” said Mercer. 

Amanda Guevara | The Poly Post

Other institutions like the University of California have a longer paid leave policy of up to eight weeks with 70% income replacement, and they just reached 100% income replacement in January. The only way to do to take longer parental leave at a CSU would be to take a more than the six weeks as unpaid, which is not usually ideal. 

Mercer also shares how most faculty don’t really take any leave, and it can often be more work to find a substitute for the course and educate them on the course material. A lot of people are just continuing to teach right after delivering a child or taking sick days for recovery.

“Most of us don’t really have a lot of money saved up so that we can afford to take unpaid leave. Generally when you have a baby, things get more expensive not cheaper,” said Mercer. “One of the things I’m really hopeful for is that we can get enough support around this issue to really make our voices heard to the administrators.”

There is a new support group for parents on campus started by Sally Romero, research & instruction librarian at CPP. 

“It’s something that’s very crucial right now,” said Romero. “It’s not sustainable for someone to just get the 30 days, at least within faculty, to spend time with their newborn or with their new child.” 

Romero has three children and said that it is an ongoing attempt to balance being a new parent as well as working on campus. She had 30 days of leave and then had to come to work. 

“It was a really hard balance with nursing, being here, being postpartum, still expecting to do the work that I’m supposed to do,” said Romero.

She hopes that there will be more childcare available for faculty since the children’s center on campus is catered more toward student parents. 

 “I feel like we will continue to try to do as much as we can to bring awareness to the needs that parent employees have within CPP, to continue to push for it,” said Romero. 

According to Mercer, the faculty is unionized, so they have a reopener to bargain for their new union contract in the spring. One of the things they can bargain for is paid leaves.

Romero also states that it is important for anyone who wants to have children or adopt in the future to have that support from the system because it can determine whether they would like to stay in a space that is going to support a family they would like to grow. 

Assistant Professor of world literature Hyeryung Hwang shares how important it is that Assembly Bill 1123 passes. 

“We know that work-life balance is important for every stakeholder because it allows us to provide more quality work,” said Hwang. “It’s important for us to educate other people about what it’s like to be a working mom or to be a working dad.” 

Feature image by Amanda Guevara

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