Paid parental leave too costly, state university leaders say

A proposal seeking paid parental leave that advocates are pushing for at the University of Georgia is too expensive and won’t be implemented at the state’s public colleges, system administrators said this week.

An advisory council of faculty, staff and students at UGA recommended earlier this week that the state’s flagship institution provide eight weeks of paid leave for employees — both men and women — after the birth or adoption of a baby.

Leave policies for the state’s 31 public colleges and universities are set by the University System of Georgia.

“The University Council’s current proposal presents a significant additional fiscal demand of the University System’s operating budget,” system officials said in a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Our first budget priority remains salary increases for faculty and staff. While the University System respects the dialogue of the University Council, we cannot support this new proposal in the current budget climate.”

System employees currently receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave through the federal Family Medical Leave Act, and they can also use a collection of accrued annual and sick leave, time off that comes with compensation, as well as short-term disability leave.

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Some members of the UGA council said that not having a dedicated paid parental leave policy had hurt the university’s retention and recruitment of quality employees. The group’s proposal also recommended allowing faculty to modify their duties for a semester after having a child.

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