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Childrearing Leave

Updated January 21, 2014

Answers to Maternity/Paternity Leave Commonly Asked Questions in Accordance with BUSD Policy and the BFT/BUSD contract

NOTE: There are significant updates to this FAQ as of January, 2014.

1) Who is eligible for maternity/paternity leave? Are teachers on paternity leave provided with the same benefits as those on maternity leave?

Any teacher (temporary, probationary, and permanent status) connected with the arrival of a new child either through natural birth or adoption is eligible for maternity/paternity leave. Paternity leave benefits are the same as maternity leave benefits.  Domestic partners as defined in section 14.17 of the BUSD/BFT contract are eligible for maternity/paternity leave benefits. 

All K-12 and Early Childhood teachers are eligible for maternity/paternity leave pay equal to 25% of the teacher's own salary as outlined in Article 12.4.3 of the BUSD/BFT contract. Teachers may also use accrued sick leave as part of a childrearing leave.  Bargaining unit hourly teachers are entitled to maternity/paternity leaves without pay..

2) What will I be paid while on maternity/paternity leave?

Under the provisions of the current BFT/BUSD contract, if you are using childrearing leave days you will be paid 25% of your own salary for 89 days. If you use sick days as part of your leave those will be paid at 100% of your pay.  The maximum number of days of childrearing leave is 89 days.

The allocation of this pay over the entire course of the school year that includes your leave is complex. You should receive a spreadsheet of projected compensation for the entire school year that includes your leave from BUSD as part of the letter you receive approving your leave.  This spreadsheet should come with an explanation of the basic principles and policies that govern the allocation of your pay.  A BUSD document outlining these general principles is also available on the BFT website.  If you are not provided with this information, please send an email to Director of Personnel, Evelyn Bradley at evelynbradley@berkeley.net.  Please be sure to cc BFT on that email.

In general, your total pay owed for the entire year from the date you start your leave, until the end of the school year, will be allocated in equal chunks over the affected months.  This means that when you return to work after your leave you pay per month will not be the same as it was before you went on leave.

3) How do I go about applying for maternity/paternity leave and notifying the BUSD Personnel office of the actual date when it begins? 

BFT recommends submitting a request for leave around 4 months before your baby is due.  This will provide you with vital financial information that will allow you to plan for your leave and AFTER your leave, and allow BUSD to hire a substitute for your absence.

The BUSD Leave of Absence Request forms are available on the BFT web site.  You need to fill out a BUSD Leave of Absence Request form, marking the “maternity/paternity/childrearing leave” box on it and listing your expected due date, and send this in an email to Evelyn Bradley in the Human Resources office. 

You should also notify your principal at least 2 or 3 months ahead of your due date and discuss with him or her arrangements for a long-term substitute for your position.  Your principal will coordinate this process with the Human Resources office.

Within a week after the baby is born, you should resubmit the BUSD Leave of Absence Request form and mark on it the actual date when your baby was born and thus the actual date that your 89-day maternity/paternity leave pay should start.  Remember that if you wish to take advantage of the maternity/paternity leave pay you must enact it at the time the child is born or earlier.  You cannot come back a couple of weeks or months after the child is born and still be eligible for maternity/paternity leave pay at that point.  

4) Once my baby is born, can I use sick leave for the first part of my maternity/paternity leave and then switch over to the maternity/paternity differential pay after a few weeks?

Yes, you can do that, but currently BUSD interprets the contract to say that you cannot have more than 89 days of childrearing leave in total.

If you need to use sick days during your pregnancy you may do so, of course

5) If I have enough sick leave accumulated, do I have the option of simply using sick leave instead of my maternity/paternity leave in order that I get fully paid?

Yes, but currently BUSD interprets the contract to say that you cannot have more than 89 days of childrearing leave in total.

Please keep in mind that during the first few years after the baby is born you will inevitably find yourself with numerous occasions where you will need sick days in order to stay home with your infant/toddler.  The BFT recommends that you try to ensure that you have plenty of sick days on hand for these occasions.  Keep in mind that if you return to work with no sick days in reserve and you must be absent for any reason your pay will be docked and your STRS service credit will be affected.

6) Am I eligible for State Disability Insurance?

No. One is not eligible for SDI if one is enrolled in STRS and most California teachers are in STRS.  BFT and BUSD are currently researching affordable Short and Long-Term disability insurance products that BUSD can offer to certificated employees.  We hope to have options available to employees by April of 2014.

7) If I find that for health reasons I am unable to continue working for the last few weeks before the birth of my child, can I begin receiving my BUSD maternity leave pay during this time?

Yes, however, keep in mind that you are only allowed a total of 89 working days of childrearing leave.  If you use up some childrearing leave days before the birth of the child you will not have the full 89 working days once the child is born.  For example, if you begin your childrearing leave six weeks (approximately 30 working days) before the birth of the child, you would only have 59 working days of maternity leave pay after the child is born (89 - 30 = 59).  You can use sick leave before the baby is born.  You may be asked to provide a doctor’s note (though this is rare).

8) What happens if my maternity/paternity leave of 89 working days is completed and I find that I am not ready (or healthy enough) to come back to work yet?

If you near the completion of your 89 working days of maternity/paternity leave and you then find that you need to be out longer, you have essentially two options:  

a) If it is the case that you are not healthy enough to come back to work, you can use any accumulated sick leave that you might have in order to continue to receive pay for the days you remain out.  Please note that if you use sick leave at this time you may be asked for a doctor’s verification. Please also note that if your sick leave is exhausted and you are a member of the BFT/BUSD Sick Leave Bank you can apply for sick leave through the BFT/BUSD Sick Leave Bank at this time. If you are neither a member of the Sick Leave Bank nor have enough accumulated sick leave in reserves, you can apply for unpaid extended maternity/paternity leave.

b) If it is not necessarily a health issue, you can simply apply for unpaid extended maternity/paternity leave until the end of the school year.  Please note that if you wish to apply for unpaid extended maternity/paternity leave, you should do so at least 20 working days prior to the expiration of your 89 working days of maternity/paternity leave.  (BFT/BUSD Contract Section 12.4.4)  If one applies at least 20 working days prior to the expiration of the 89 working days of maternity/paternity leave, these unpaid extended maternity/paternity leaves are always granted by BUSD.

9) If I find that I am ordered to bed rest during the pregnancy or otherwise find that I am unable to continue working for a number of months before the birth of my child, are there any type of State or STRS disability benefits for which I am eligible?

No.  Berkeley Unified teachers do not presently pay into SDI (State Disability Insurance) and therefore are not eligible for such.  Berkeley Unified teachers do pay into STRS (State Teachers Retirement System) and therefore we are indeed eligible for STRS disability benefits, however the minimum time period for which one can apply for STRS disability benefits is one year.  Pregnancy or pregnancy related disabilities that last less than a year are not eligible to receive STRS disability benefits.    

BFT and BUSD are currently researching affordable Short and Long-Term disability insurance products that BUSD can offer to certificated employees.  We hope to have options available to employees by April of 2014.

10) Are the eighty-nine (89) working days of maternity/paternity leave exclusive of any weekends, holidays, or summer break days?

Yes.  The leave is for eighty-nine (89) working days. 

11) If I am out on maternity/paternity leave for part of the school year, will I still receive my normal July and August paychecks in the summer and will they be full?

No. You will still receive your July and August paychecks, but they will not be the same full amount that you normally receive.  Here’s why: BUSD’s current practice is to allocate your compensation while on leave AND AFTER leave in equal allotments.  This means your July and August checks may be substantially different from your checks before you went on leave.  Please see question #2, above.  If you have questions about the spreadsheet you receive from BUSD of your projected compensation during AND AFTER your leave, we recommend making an appointment with Director of Personnel, Evelyn Bradley.  In addition, we recommend that you read the BUSD document on this subject on the BFT website.

12) Will the school year when I am partially out on maternity/paternity leave count as a year of service for moving up on the salary schedule the following year?

In order for your school year to count as a year of service on the salary schedule you must work 75% of the days of the year.  Paid sick leave and days on differential paid maternity/paternity leave do not count as workdays in reaching the 75% mark.  Extended (unpaid) maternity/paternity leave or other kinds of unpaid leave do not count as work days in reaching the 75% mark.

13) How do I add my baby to my medical benefits coverage?

It is critical that you contact the Benefits office within 30 calendar days of your baby's birth if you are going to be adding the baby to your medical coverage.  It is best to go in person to the Benefits office.  Be sure to bring a copy of your baby's birth certificate when you go.

Any other questions?  

Please don’t hesitate to contact the BFT office at bft4tchr@lmi.net.