NIU approves longest paid family leave among state universities

By Ahyen Labanan

DeKALB — NIU has the longest paid Parental Leave of Absence package among public Illinois universities. This became effective July 1, according to NIU Today.

“We’re really, really proud that we are only one of three of the state institutions that have paid parental leave right now, and we have the most generous package,” Matt Streb, chief of staff to the president, said at the Oct. 3 Operating Staff Council meeting.

Western Illinois University currently offers four consecutive weeks of paid parental leave. The University of Illinois system, which includes University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and University of Illinois Springfield, offers two weeks.

NIU’s paid Parental Leave of Absence package offers employees five continuous weeks, or 25 days of paid leave, for the birth of a child or children welcomed through adoption or foster care. It is required to be used within 12 months of the child’s birth or placement through adoption or foster care.

Employees who are primary or coequal caregivers of the child are eligible for these benefits. They must also be tenured or tenure-track faculty, temporary instructors, supportive professional staff or civil service employees. Civil service employees don’t include graduate or undergraduate students or extra-help appointments, according to NIU’s Human Resource Services website.

To apply for these benefits, employees must fill out the Parental Leave of Absence request form, which can be found on the HRS website, at least 30 days prior to the expected start date of the leave.

Craig Warmke, an assistant professor in the department of philosophy, has been on reduced schedule leave since August. However, he is still utilizing personal leave hours.

This semester, Warmke teaches one less course, so he uses the extra time to help his wife care for their child who was born in April as well as their two other children. He said the reduced leave is great and it’s nice to have a lower workload.

He said that Parental Leave of Absence is an improvement from before as it allows parents to not use their own sick hours.

Warmke said HRS is in the process of analyzing how paid parental leave impacts him.

If employees have questions regarding Parental Leave of Absence, contact the HRS Service Center at 815-753-6000.