Paid Parental Leave,  Sept. 17, 2018.

The Virginia Tech Child Development Center for Learning and Research children's playground at Wallace Hall holds daycare hours for children, Sept. 17, 2018.

Virginia Tech implemented a new paid parental leave benefit for faculty and staff effective on July 25, 2018.

The university now has its own paid parental leave policy that allows all salaried, full- and part-time employees up to eight paid weeks of leave for birthing, adopting or fostering a child.

In addition, the benefit provides flexibility for the family because if both parents are eligible for paid parental leave, they can stagger the total of 16 paid weeks shared between them.

Virginia Tech did not have a paid parental leave policy prior to the new policy, which followed the new parental-leave directive by Governor Ralph Northam (D-Va.). Earlier this summer, Northam signed an executive order that gave certain classifications of state employees up to eight weeks of paid leave after birthing, adopting or fostering a child. Virginia Tech’s policy broadens Northam’s definition of employees who are eligible for paid parental leave.

“This was something that Virginia Tech had intended to do before the governor's directive,” said Mark Owczarski, assistant vice president for University Relations. “We were working on it, but we were grateful that the governor kind of sped up our process, which was really good for our employees.”

Before the state order, Virginia Tech had only followed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which is a federal law that guarantees employees 12 unpaid weeks of parental leave.

The paid parental leave is a whole new benefit that sits alongside other employee benefits, such as vacation leave or sick leave. This way, employees who may be birthing, adopting or fostering a child do not have to use either their vacation or sick time in order to still get paid during the process.

“It's creating a new classification of leave so that both moms and dads have an extended period of time with their new family member, which will help ease that transition,” Owczarski said.

Moreover, the hope is that the benefit creates a win-win situation for both the parents and the employer –– in this case, Virginia Tech –– because ideally employees will return happier, less stressed, more productive and will want to stay at Virginia Tech.

“I am very pleased to hear about the university's adoption of paid parental leave,” said Adrienne Holz Ivory, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at Virginia Tech. “This much needed policy change is essential for parental well-being, child and maternal health, and parent-child attachment.”

Holz Ivory, who has worked at Virginia Tech for eight years and has three kids, also believes that the new paid parental leave will positively contribute to workers’ productivity, as well as facilitate career advancement for women in academia.

The University will follow a memorandum until the policy is fully written. According to Owczarski, Virginia Tech is planning to have policy completed by early 2019 that ensures no classification of employee is left out or loses a benefit.

“We're very happy to announce this benefit and we think it's going to be very, very beneficial in terms of recruiting superstar faculty in the future and great employees and great people in the future,” Owczarski said. “And it'll make Virginia Tech a great place to work.”

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