Child leave options may expand for parents who both work at ISU

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A draft policy change would allow eligible parents who both work at Iowa State to each take up to 12 weeks of leave upon the arrival of a child, expanding what's available under federal law.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows parents to take up to 12 weeks of leave for the birth of an infant, an adoption or the placement of a foster child. But when the parents share the same employer, the federal law limits leave to care for a new child to a combined 12 weeks between the parents. The policy change Iowa State is considering would override that limitation for parents who both work at the university. It would apply to all faculty and staff.

Giving 12 weeks to both ISU-employed parents is a family-friendly move that demonstrates the university's care for employees and their roles outside the workplace, said Andrea Little, manager of employee and labor relations for university human resources (UHR).

"We want to be able support the holistic well-being of our employees, which includes the roles they hold outside of work as a parent," Little said.

Depending on the circumstances, employees may use paid vacation or sick time during an FMLA leave, which otherwise is unpaid. Policies concerning the use of paid leave during an FMLA absence wouldn't be affected by this change. To qualify for FMLA, employees must have worked for Iowa State for 12 months and at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months prior to the leave.

UHR has been working to develop the policy change since last fall, with the support of senior leaders, Little said.

Stakeholder groups including the Faculty Senate and the Professional and Scientific Council have been invited to provide input, she said. Iowa State employees also are encouraged to weigh in on the change. The public comment period for the policy runs through Sept. 30. Send comments to

Depending on the feedback received, the new policy could go into effect by the end of 2018 or in early 2019, Little said.