By Natalie Craig and Cathy Goodyear
Kiki Kringle contributed reporting
The majority of the Manhattan College faculty, staff, and administration maybe aware of the maternity leave policy but never looked at it in depth. Our policy may not be what everyone is looking for.
According to thebump.com, a popular pregnancy website and forum, paid maternity leave of at least twelve to fifteen weeks is ideal for a peaceful and healthy pregnancy. Manhattan College does not have that.
Marketing professor Michael Judiesch, Ph.D., who contributed to the study “The Relationship of Pregnancy Status to Job Satisfaction: An Exploratory Analysis,” is very familiar with policy due to staff taking leave. In his study from 1999, he looked at whether or not taking a leave had any impact on any subsequent promotions and salary increases and it did.
“We looked at people who took a leave over a 2-3-year period and then came back to work for 2-3 years and it did somewhat negatively affect those who left.” Judiesch said. “There is a law, the 1993 Family Medical Leave Act, that is a very, very, important law. It mandated up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for any type of family responsibility including pregnancy and illness. Prior to this, organizations weren’t even required to bring back the employee after they left. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is another law that prevents people from firing someone because their pregnant but you can give them a different work assignment.”
Manhattan College’s policy for administration and staff states, “Parental leave is unpaid (unless you have any unused accrued vacation) leave provided by Manhattan College to an employee for the purpose of bonding with a newly-born, adopted, or newly-assigned foster child, and to make necessary arrangements for the care of the child.”
This policy is administered in compliance with the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993, as amended, which requires supporting documentation. If employees qualify, parental leave runs concurrently with family medical leave.
The policy for administration and staff provides an employee who has twelve or more months of continuous service and/or worked 1,250 hours over the previous twelve months’ service at the time of parental leave, five months for full-time employees; six months may be granted under very special circumstances (i.e. care of a disabled child) with the approval of the Vice President and three months for part-time employees from the date of the baby’s birth, adoption or newly assigned foster child.
While Manhattan College’s policy allows that amount of time off, long term unpaid maternity leave is a serious issue even if, in the given situation, no financial threat is imposed upon the mother or child.
Despite financial dilemmas faced by new mothers, the lack of ability to properly care for their infants while maintaining a career also leads to numerous heath concerns for both mother and child.
Manhattan College’s policy for administration and staff states “If an employee who has been employed with the College for at least three months becomes pregnant and requests maternity leave, she must furnish the College with a certificate from her physician stating the expected due date of her delivery.”
She may continue to work so long as her physician certifies that she is able to do so. Maternity leave will be granted for a period of up to six to eight weeks as long as it is certified by her physician. The period of leave will commence with the cessation of actual work and must conclude within six to eight weeks of the date of delivery.
The employee will use any accumulated vacation and/or sick leave time for maternity leave purposes. If an employee elects maternity leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, the College will grant the leave and it will run concurrently with the maternity leave.
Using sick and vacation days as maternity leave is risky. In the future, if something happens and you are out of sick days or vacation time, you end up in a difficult situation.
A 2011 data analysis observed 141 different countries that all provided ten weeks of paid maternity leave to new mothers and found that the infant mortality rate was ten percent lower than countries that didn’t. The tragic effects caused by such an easily repairable problem causes increasing concern towards the emphasis, or lack there of, of concern towards national issues.
Manhattan College’s policy for administration and staff who have been employed for least four weeks’ states, “an employee will receive for any non-work related illness, injury, and pregnancy, one half of their average weekly pay up to a maximum of $170 per week allowed by New York State disability.”
“Sick days are used for the first seven days of illness or injury (includes weekend). Payments start on the eighth day, to a total of twenty-six weeks in one year, according to the provisions of the New York State law,” the policy reads. “If an employee has accumulated sick time, the College will pay their full salary. If the employee has no accumulated sick time, or after all accumulated sick time has been exhausted, then disability insurance will be the only payment. If eligible for Family Medical Leave (FMLA), this will run concurrently with the Short Term Disability Leave. If the maximum 12 week FMLA period is depleted and you continue to be unable to work, your position with the College cannot be assured.”
Sometimes pregnancies are unplanned and new mothers should not be penalized for this. Worrying about your source of income being taken away from you while you are on maternity leave is stressful and tasking.
Manhattan College’s faculty maternity leave policy for a full time tenure track member allows a leave under one of the following arrangements, a disability leave for the number of weeks deemed medically necessary by a health care provider, relieved of academic duties and receive full salary for 6 weeks (or what is medically deemed necessary) and 66% of the remainder of the semester, or leave may be granted for either the fall or spring semester, but not for both, at the discretion of the College and the faculty member.
During a leave authorized by this policy, benefits shall continue as before but faculty who do not qualify for the extended benefits, or do not elect to utilize these benefits, remain eligible for other applicable College benefits as well as benefits provided by law.
“Our policy for faculty is a step in the right direction.” Judiesch said. “We have a decent policy compared to other colleges for faculty, if they can take a whole semester off if they need to and it allows people some support with their pay while they are on leave.”
The faculty’s policy also allows faculty members on tenure track who give birth, whose spouse gives birth, or who adopt a child, may, at their discretion, delay their tenure clock by one year. Grishma Shah, another Manhattan College marketing professor, came from a large state school first with a very different policy.
“I think our policy is very generous compared to other schools. I had a very positive experience on leave. I think to be able to spend the rest of semester at partial pay really helped make my decision a lot easier. I really like the tenure track hold on your tenure track so you can get an extra bonus year while you’re on your tenure clock. That way you won’t feel pressured to continue with research while you are on leave.” she said. “The policy in the United States is not that great compared to the rest of the world, particularly industrialized countries, such as Canada where you get a year off or in Northern Europe where you get a couple years off if you are in Academia. So compared to the rest of the world it is not so good. Compared to the rest of the America its very generous.”