Temple, expand paid parental leave for all employees

A student argues about the importance of changing the current paid parental leave policies.


Joyce A. Joyce saw a lot of new mothers struggling to return to work so soon after the birth of their child during her time as the director of the Women’s Studies department.

“I think the [current parental leave policies] are reflective of the treatment and attitude towards women on this planet, on this college, the university and America,” said Joyce, an English professor.

Bringing a newborn child home can be one of the most exciting and important times for any parent, but it’s wrong to assume this transition comes without problems. New parents have to worry about multiple challenges, like sleep deprivation, adjusting to their new life and all the anxiety that comes with taking care of a newborn.

On top of that, new parents also have to worry about their jobs and whether or not their paid parental leave will allow them enough time to take care of their child. 

New paid parental leave policies have been in effect for eligible non-bargaining Temple employees since July 2022, allowing those who fit the requirements to take up to four weeks of paid parental leave. 

However, this isn’t nearly enough time for parents to adjust to new responsibilities. Temple should instead expand paid parental leave to at least eight weeks because all employees deserve paid time off regardless of what union they belong to. 

Each bargaining union has an agreement that establishes their paid parental leave policies, said Sharon Boyle, vice president of Human Resources. There are 11 unions at Temple, including the 1199C, which represents clerical employees who have negotiated their benefits to have up to four weeks of paid parental leave. 

Temple also allows a maximum of four weeks of paid parental leave to non-bargaining employees, staff members who are currently working but whose terms are not negotiated by a bargaining agreement. 

To qualify, eligible staff and faculty members must have been working at Temple for at least one consecutive year and have worked for 1,250 hours. They also need to be full-time employees, and if both parents are employed by Temple they need to take separate leaves.

Federal law only requires a maximum 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Temple has the flexibility to set their own parental leave policies and their number one priority should be to make sure employees have enough paid time off when they welcome a child. 

If the Temple Association of University Professionals, which is currently negotiating benefits with the university, were to change any terms and conditions then members would have access to four weeks of paid parental leave, the same as 1199C. If the union does not negotiate parental leave benefits, new mothers can use available sick, vacation or personal time to have paid leave of absence, while fathers can only use their vacation or personal time. 


The four week time frame for recovery is only feasible for women who didn’t experience any complications during delivery or postpartum. Almost 8 percent of parents face some severe birth complications, like uterus rupture and excessive bleeding, and more than 16 percent are diagnosed with a less severe complication, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Temple changed its policies in 2022 to four weeks of paid parental leave because they wanted to do what was best for the university, but also for faculty and staff members, Boyle said. The decision was also influenced by policies implemented at other universities.

“Temple often looks to universities such as Penn State, so their policies are pretty much the same as ours,” Boyle said. “We also want to establish something that is workable for the university as well as the parents.” 

Temple should increase paid parental leave regardless of what other institutions do. There’s no federal law controlling paid parental leave across the country and the only regulation allows up to 12 weeks for unpaid time off, so it’s up to the university to make changes and ensure each worker spends vital time with their newborn children. 

Temple should be a pioneer and increase their parental leave policies because they have a responsibility to do what’s best for employees, Joyce said. 

“I think of it as somebody has to be the first, so why are we always following?” Joyce said. “We could be first, and could make that difference.”

People who give birth deserve to have time to fully heal from a physically draining process without having to worry about going back to work too soon or rushing their recovery for economic reasons. 

Welcoming a child is a life-altering event that completely changes parents’ life structure and therefore they need proper time to recover and adjust to it, said Judith Levine, the director of Temple’s public policy lab and a sociology professor. 

“These are major events in people’s lives, and they take a great deal of time, effort, recuperation and attention, and children sort of starting their lives off well with parents who can sleep and pay attention to them is incredibly important for child development,” Levine said.  

Temple offers paid vacation time depending on how much time employees have been working for the university, and it varies between 15 to 20 days each fiscal year. Faculty and staff can also take up to 26 weeks of unpaid family sick leave if the family member was part of the military. 

Not everyone can afford to take extra unpaid time off or use other benefits, like family sick time and vacation weeks, after their four weeks of paid leave. 

The minimum recovery time varies between six to eight weeks depending on each person’s experience with labor, and Temple’s paid parental leave should at least reflect that time period. Physical and mental health problems are common among parents who return to work too quickly after having a child, it’s not fair to endanger children and their parents instead of offering more parental leave.

It’s equally important for adoptive parents to have paid parental leave because the first few weeks are crucial to creating a bond with their child and getting used to their new life, CBC News reported

The first few weeks of a child’s life determine their development and parents should be able to take care of them without distractions. 

Paid leave is essential for the health and well-being of both mothers and babies as it decreases the rates of infant mortality and lowers the chances of trauma because parents are less stressed, according to a May 2021 study by the National Partnership for Women and Families.  

Less than eight weeks of paid leave also correlates to a decline in mental health and increases the chances of depression which makes it harder for parents to adjust to their new life. 

“I think our biggest problem is that we have no national paid parental leave, the U.S. is a complete outlier and many other countries in the world, the majority of countries, have a paid leave policy and the U.S. doesn’t,” Levine said. 

Temple is responsible for providing enough time for employees to recover physically and mentally after they welcome a child. Giving staff and faculty members a chance to enjoy what is supposed to be a wonderful period is the bare minimum, and Temple administration needs to make an effort to change the current parental leave policies. 

Until there is a national law enforcing a minimum of eight weeks for parental leave, employers, like the university, should provide enough paid time for partners to recover before coming back to work. 

“This [lack of federal law] leaves a problem to private employers and it means that there’s a great deal of inequality across the workforce depending on who they work for,” Levine said. 

An increase of four weeks would give parents extra time to heal, recover and bond with their children. Temple needs to reevaluate their current policies and be one of the few colleges in the state to offer more than four weeks of paid parental leave. 

“I think anything is a possibility,” Boyle said.“I wouldn’t say that we are looking at [expanding the time period for paid parental leave] right now and considering whether or not we should do it. “[Expanding to four weeks] was a big benefit increase for employees, and for now, people are really enjoying it and making good use of it.”

Temple should also take the opinions of other parents into consideration and ask the different worker associations what they want and need to make their transition easier as parents. 

“What about a forum or a discussion with women who had these babies, who have children and they are faculty, administrations, coordinators and cleaning staff?” Joyce said. “What about at least a combination of those women with just a discussion first?” 

Temple’s administration needs to consider expanding paid parental leave regardless of how recently the policies surrounding parental leave changed. This is an issue that needs to be addressed expeditiously and instead of copying the policies other institutions have, Temple should be setting an example by expanding their paid parental leave time.

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