Parental Policies

Columbia has adopted policies to fit the needs of parents caring for children while pursuing a career. Parental policies differ depending on whether you are an Officer of Administration, Instruction, Research, or the Libraries.

Officers of Administration

Policies (OFFICERS OF ADMINISTRATION)

Pregnancy-Related Disability Leave

As a full-time officer of the University who is pregnant, you are entitled to take a paid medical leave for any part of the pregnancy and post-partum period that your doctor certifies you are medically unable to work. Medical leave for pregnancy begins on the date your doctor certifies that you are unable to work for medical reasons and ends on the date your doctor certifies you are medically able to return to work. Typically physicians certify medical leave of six to eight weeks.  In the event of complications and extended medical leave is necessary, medical certification may allow up to six months of paid medical leave.

    The first 12 weeks of any pregnancy-related disability or parental leave in a rolling year are counted toward the 12 weeks of leave you may be entitled to under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Parental Care Leave

As a full-time Officer of Administration, benefits-eligible part-time Officer of Administration, or a Non-Union Support Staff, if you have been employed at the University for three months or longer you are eligible to take an unpaid parental care leave of up to six months when:

  • You have a baby
  • Your spouse/same-sex domestic partner has a baby
  • You adopt a child
  • You become a foster parent to a child

New York City Earned Sick Time Act

Under the New York City Earned Sick Time Act Policy all eligible (must work more than 80 hours in a fiscal year: July 1 – June 30) University faculty and staff who work in New York City may accrue up to a maximum of 40 hours of paid sick time per fiscal year, which can be used for illness or preventive care of one's self or one's family members (defined under the Act to mean the employee's child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling (including a half sibling, step sibling, or sibling related through adoption), grandchild, grandparent, or the child or parent of an employee's spouse or domestic partner).

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) 

    FMLA requires that an "eligible" employee must be granted a total of up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a rolling 12-month period for the following reasons:

    1. The birth or adoption of a child, or the foster care placement of a child.
    2. To care for a spouse, child or parent who has a serious health condition.

    If eligible, FMLA will run concurrently with paid medical leave and parental care leave.

Helpful Suggestions

Preparing for a Leave of Absence

  • Discuss your work and leave needs with your supervisor.
  • Follow up any verbal discussions with a written memorandum detailing what you discussed.  Make sure to include an anticipated return date.
  • Hand in your written notice when you and your supervisor are both clear on the terms of your leave.

Things to Think About

  • Parental care leave is applicable to both mothers and fathers.
  • While on parental care leave, you may substitute paid leave, including vacation or personal days, for any part of your unpaid leave.
  • Health and other insurance benefits coverage may continue during your unpaid leave if you directly pay the premiums; the University does not make contributions on your behalf during an unpaid leave.  For more information, contact HR Benefits at 212-851-7000.
  • A change in your status upon returning to work after your leave may affect your benefits.  You are encouraged to talk to your departmental administrator and HR benefits to better understand what you may be entitled to. 
  • To accommodate work/life challenges and needs, some people may be able to arrange a Flexible Work Arrangement with their supervisor.

Officers of Instruction - Morningside and CUMC

Policies  (OFFICERS OF INSTRUCTION)

These policies recognize the special needs of faculty who must balance research, teaching, and parental obligations, and reflect the belief that the University, as well as the individual, benefits from arrangements that help faculty pursue their academic careers while raising a family.  Please note that the content on this website provides a brief summary of the policies. For complete information please consult the Faculty Handbook.

Pregnancy-Related Disability Leave

As a full-time officer of the University who is pregnant, you are entitled to take a paid medical leave for any part of the pregnancy and post-partum period that your doctor certifies you are medically unable to work.  Medical leave for pregnancy begins on the date your doctor certifies that you are unable to work for medical reasons and ends on the date your doctor certifies you are medically able to return to work. Typically physicians certify medical leave of six to eight weeks.  In the event of complications and extended medical leave is necessary, medical certification may allow up to six months of paid medical leave.

The first 12 weeks of any pregnancy-related disability or parental leave in a rolling year are counted toward the 12 weeks of leave you may be entitled to under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  

Child Care Leave

Officers of Instruction are also eligible to take a child care leave without salary or with partial salary when: 

  • You have a baby
  • Your spouse or same-sex domestic partner has a baby
  • You adopt a child
  • You become a foster parent to a child

New York City Earned Sick Time Act

Under the New York City Earned Sick Time Act Policy all eligible (must work more than 80 hours in a fiscal year: July 1 – June 30) University faculty and staff who work in New York City may accrue up to a maximum of 40 hours of paid sick time per fiscal year, which can be used for illness or preventive care of one's self or one's family members (defined under the Act to mean the employee's child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling (including a half sibling, step sibling, or sibling related through adoption), grandchild, grandparent, or the child or parent of an employee's spouse or domestic partner).

Part-Time Career Appointment

In addition to paid medical leave and infant care leave, you may be eligible for a part-time career appointment. 

Part-time career appointments are available if you are:

  • a faculty member on tenure track, and
  • a primary caregiver for a child under nine years of age.

You are the primary caregiver if you are:

  • a single parent,
  • or where there are two parents, if the other is working full-time or is enrolled as a full-time student.

During the period of a part-time career appointment, you will perform half your normal duties and responsibilities, and will receive half your normal salary; but you will keep your full-time status, benefits and privileges. Each year of your part-time career appointment is treated as a half-year in determining your up-or-out date.

You are not allowed to work elsewhere during a part-time career appointment. The appointment is made on the assumption that you will be devoting your additional non-work time to the care of your child.

You may hold a part-time career appointment as long as you meet the eligibility requirements for it. You must inform your chair or dean on a yearly basis whether you want to continue to serve in this capacity or resume your full-time appointment.  

Tenure Clock Stoppage

If a nontenured faculty assumes primary responsibility for the care of a child less than a year old, the Provost may stop the tenure clock.  This can occur without taking a leave of absence or participating in the University’s workload relief program(if eligible).  

An officer is considered the “primary parent” if:

  • She or he is a single parent
  • There are two parents, but the other is working full time or enrolled as a full-time student.

Faculty may have the tenure clock stopped in this manner for up to one year of appointment for each of two children.

Leave of Absence for Compelling Personal Need

Full-time faculty may request a leave of absence without salary to deal with a compelling personal need.  Faculty who take such leaves to care for seriously ill family members are entitled, under FMLA, to at least 12 weeks of unpaid leave, subject to the requirements described under the "FMLA Leaves" section of the Faculty Handbook.  Longer periods of leave for that purpose and all other types of personal leave are granted at the discretion of the Provost on the recommendation of the appropriate department chair, dean, or vice president.  Personal leaves are generally limited to a maximum of one year, but the Provost may authorize extensions on the recommendation of the department chair, dean, or vice president. 

Helpful Suggestions

Preparing for a Leave of Absence

For pregnancy-related disability leave, provide written documentation from your doctor stating the length of time you will need to be away from work. If the length of time you need to be on disability leave changes for medical reasons, you will need to submit new documentation from your doctor so that your disability leave can be changed accordingly.  The doctor's letter may be attached to your letter to your chair or dean, or to maintain confidentiality may be sent directly to "HR Disability" in the Office of Human Resources.  Leave sufficient time between your written request(s) and the date you would like to begin your leave so that your department and/or school can plan for your absence and receive authorization from the Provost.

    Provide written notice of your intention to take a child care leave to your department chair or dean.  Make sure to include an anticipated return date in your written notice of leave. Leave sufficient time between your written request(s) and the date you would like to begin your leave so that your department and/or school can plan for your absence and receive authorization from the Provost. 

Things to Think About

  • Paid medical leave and child care leave generally do not exceed one year; however in certain circumstances additional time may be necessary.
  • If eligible, FMLA will run concurrently with paid medical leave and child care leave.  
  • Child care leave is applicable to both fathers and mothers.
  • If you are on tenure track, the period of your leave may change your "up or out" date.
  • If you are tenured, the period of your leave does not count toward establishing your eligibility for a sabbatical.
  • Contact HR Benefits to discuss how you can retain your benefits while on leave.

Officers of Instruction - Additional Morningside Policies

Parental Workload Relief for Officers of Instruction at the Morningside Campus

You are eligible for workload relief if you are the primary caregiver of a newborn child or a newly adopted child of less than school age,  or if the child is disabled or meets New York State's legal definition of "hard-to-place" and is less than 18 at the time the leave begins.  Please note that the content on this website provides a brief summary of the policies. For complete information please consult the Faculty Handbook.


You are the primary caregiver if:

  • you are a single parent, or
  • where there are two parents, if the other is working full-time or is enrolled as a full-time student
    Workload relief must begin within the first year after the birth or the adoption of the child but may continue beyond that year.  You may employ a child care provider and still be considered the primary caregiver. If you and your spouse or partner both work at the University, only one of you may be considered the primary caregiver at any time.  You are eligible for workload relief each time you have a new child. Workload relief will stop the tenure clock for one year for faculty on tenure track.

There are three workload relief options:

  • One term at full salary (no teaching):  You will be excused from all teaching and administrative committee work for one term, but you will be expected to be available for consultation with students, and to continue with your research.
  • One year at half salary (no teaching):  You will be excused from all teaching and administrative committee work for one year, but you will be expected to be available for consultation with students, and to continue with your research.
  • One year at full salary (reduced course load): You will teach half your usual course load each term, and make yourself available for half of your normal administrative assignments, as well as continuing to meet with students and conduct research.

Things to think about:

  • Parental workload relief is applicable to both mothers and fathers.
  • Your benefits will continue while on parental workload relief.
  • If you are on tenure track, the period of your leave will change your "up or out" date.
  • If you are tenured, the period of your leave may effect your eligibility for a sabbatical.

Preparing for parental workload relief:

  • Provide written notice of your intention to take parental workload relief to your department chair or dean.  Make sure to include an anticipated return date in your written notice of leave.
  • Leave sufficient time between your written request and the date you would like to begin your leave so that your department and/or school can plan for your absence and receive authorization from the Provost.

Officers of the Libraries

Policies  (OFFICERS OF THE LIBRARIES)

These policies, available to full-time librarians, provide a broad range of leave options for those who are responsible for the care of a newborn child or a newly adopted child. These policies have been designed to provide individuals with flexibility and time so that they may care for their families and still pursue their careers.  Please note that the content on this website provides a brief summary of the policies. For complete information, please review the memo on the parental leave options for officers of the libraries

Pregnancy-Related Disability Leave

As a full-time officer of the University who is pregnant, you are entitled to take paid medical leave for any part of the pregnancy and post-partum period that your doctor certifies you are medically unable to work.  Medical leave for pregnancy begins on the date your doctor certifies that you are unable to work for medical reasons and ends on the date your doctor certifies you are medically able to return to work. Typically physicians certify medical leave of six to eight weeks.  In the event of complications and extended medical leave is necessary, medical certification may allow up to six months of paid medical leave.

The first 12 weeks of any pregnancy-related disability or parental leave in a rolling year are counted toward the 12 weeks of leave you may be entitled to under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Child Care Leave

You may be eligible to take an infant care leave without salary or work a reduced schedule on a partial salary when:

  • You have a baby
  • Your spouse or same-sex domestic partner has a baby
  • You adopt a child
  • You become a foster parent to a child

This policy applies to biological parents, and to individuals (including same-sex domestic partners) who legally adopt a child, or who have a child placed in foster care with them.  

New York City Earned Sick Time Act

Under the New York City Earned Sick Time Act Policy all eligible (must work more than 80 hours in a fiscal year: July 1 – June 30) University faculty and staff who work in New York City may accrue up to a maximum of 40 hours of paid sick time per fiscal year, which can be used for illness or preventive care of one's self or one's family members (defined under the Act to mean the employee's child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling (including a half sibling, step sibling, or sibling related through adoption), grandchild, grandparent, or the child or parent of an employee's spouse or domestic partner).

Workload Relief Plan

Full-time officers of the libraries who have vested pension benefits with the University, and are primarily responsible for the care of a newborn child or a newly adopted infant of one year or less are eligible for the Workload Relief Plan.

There are three workload relief options:

  • Full salary for six months, working 14 hours per week (2 days) in the Libraries
  • Full salary for one year, working 24.5 hours per week (3.5 days) in the Libraries
  • Half salary for one year, working 14 hours per week (2 days) in the Libraries
  • The workload relief plan was designed to replace the combination of medical and/or child care leaves for individuals who meet its eligibility requirements.  However, eligible officers may still elect to take those leaves rather than ask for workload relief if they wish, for example, to provide no service while taking care of their new children or to work schedules that differ from those offered by the workload relief options.  

    Helpful Suggestions

    Preparing For a Leave of Absence

    For pregnancy-related disability leave, you and your doctor must complete the New York State Disability Form.  If the length of time you need to be on paid leave changes for medical reasons, you will need to submit new documentation from your doctor so that your medical leave can be changed accordingly.  The disability form may be attached to your letter to your supervisor, or to maintain confidentiality may be sent directly to "HR Disability" in the Office of Human Resources.  Leave sufficient time between your written request(s) and the date you would like to begin your leave for your department and/or school to plan for your absence and receive authorization from the Provost. 

    Provide written notice of your intention to take child care leave to your supervisor.  Make sure to include an anticipated return date in your written notice of leave. Leave sufficient time between your written request(s) and the date you would like to begin your leave so that your department and/or school can plan for your absence and receive authorization from the Provost.  

    Things to Think About

  • Paid medical leave and infant care leave generally does not exceed one year; however in certain circumstances additional time may be necessary. 
  • If eligible, FMLA will run concurrently with paid medical leave and child care leave.
  • Child care leave is applicable to both fathers and mothers.
  • Contact HR Benefits to discuss how you can retain your benefits while on leave.

Officers of Research

Policies  (OFFICERS OF RESEARCH)

These policies are also for postdoctoral research scientists and scholars, and postdoctoral clinical fellows who are salaried with a full time “assistant in clinical” appointment.

These policies recognize the special needs of researchers who must balance professional and parental obligations, and reflect the belief that the University, as well as the individual, benefits from arrangements that help researchers pursue their academic careers while raising a family.  Please note that the content on this website provides a brief summary of the policies. For complete information please consult the Faculty Handbook

Pregnancy-Related Disability Leave

As a full-time officer of research who is pregnant, you are entitled to take a paid medical leave for any part of the pregnancy and post-partum period that your doctor certifies you are medically unable to work.  Medical leave for pregnancy begins on the date your doctor certifies that you are unable to work for medical reasons and ends on the date your doctor certifies you are medically able to return to work. Typically physicians certify medical leave of six to eight weeks.  In the event of complications and extended medical leave is necessary, medical certification may allow up to six months of paid medical leave.

The first 12 weeks of any pregnancy-related disability or parental leave in a rolling year are counted toward the 12 weeks of leave you may be entitled to under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Child Care Leave

You may be eligible to take a child care leave without salary or with partial salary under the following conditions:

  • You have a baby
  • Your spouse or same-sex domestic partner has a baby
  • You adopt a child
  • You become a foster parent to a child

This policy applies to biological parents, and to individuals (including same-sex domestic partners) who legally adopt a child, or who have a child placed in foster care with them. If the officer does not perform any responsibilities during the leave, it is without salary. With the appropriate approvals, the officer may alternatively continue to perform a portion of her/his normal responsibilities on a leave with partial salary.

The total period of medical and child care leave normally may not exceed 12 months.

New York City Earned Sick Time Act

Under the New York City Earned Sick Time Act Policy all eligible (must work more than 80 hours in a fiscal year: July 1 – June 30) University faculty and staff who work in New York City may accrue up to a maximum of 40 hours of paid sick time per fiscal year, which can be used for illness or preventive care of one's self or one's family members (defined under the Act to mean the employee's child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling (including a half sibling, step sibling, or sibling related through adoption), grandchild, grandparent, or the child or parent of an employee's spouse or domestic partner).

Helpful Suggestions

Preparing for a Leave of Absence

    For pregnancy-related disability leave, you and your doctor must complete the New York State Disability Form.  If the length of time you need to be on leave changes for medical reasons, you will need to submit new documentation from your doctor so that your medical leave can be changed accordingly.  The disability form may be attached to your letter to your supervisor, or to maintain confidentiality may be sent directly to "HR Disability" in the Office of Human Resources.  Leave sufficient time between your written request(s) and the date you would like to begin your leave so that your department and/or school can plan for your absence and receive authorization from the Provost.

    Provide written notice of your intention to take child care leave to your chair, dean, or director.  Make sure to include an anticipated return date in your written notice of leave. Leave sufficient time between your written request(s) and the date you would like to begin your leave so that your department and/or school can plan for your absence and receive authorization from the Provost. 

    Things to Think About

  • Paid medical leave and infant care leave generally does not exceed one year; however in certain circumstances additional time may be necessary. 
  • If eligible, FMLA will run concurrently with paid medical leave and infant care leave.
  • Child care leave is applicable to both mothers and fathers.
  • Contact HR Benefits to discuss how you can retain your benefits while on leave. 

Non-Union Support Staff

Policies (Non-Union Support Staff)

Pregnancy-Related Disability Leave

As a non-union support staff of the University who is pregnant, you are entitled to take a medical leave for any part of the pregnancy and post-partum period that your doctor certifies you are medically unable to work. Medical leave for pregnancy begins on the date your doctor certifies that you are unable to work for medical reasons and ends on the date your doctor certifies you are medically able to return to work. Typically physicians certify medical leave of six to eight weeks.  In the event of complications and extended medical leave is necessary, medical certification may allow up to six months of paid medical leave.

    The first 12 weeks of any pregnancy-related disability or parental leave in a rolling year are counted toward the 12 weeks of leave you may be entitled to under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Parental Care Leave

As a full-time Officer of Administration, benefits-eligible part-time Officer of Administration, or a Non-Union Support Staff, if you have been employed at the University for three months or longer you are eligible to take an unpaid parental care leave of up to six months when:

  • You have a baby
  • Your spouse/same-sex domestic partner has a baby
  • You adopt a child
  • You become a foster parent to a child

New York City Earned Sick Time Act

Under the New York City Earned Sick Time Act Policy all eligible (must work more than 80 hours in a fiscal year: July 1 – June 30) University faculty and staff who work in New York City may accrue up to a maximum of 40 hours of paid sick time per fiscal year, which can be used for illness or preventive care of one's self or one's family members (defined under the Act to mean the employee's child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling (including a half sibling, step sibling, or sibling related through adoption), grandchild, grandparent, or the child or parent of an employee's spouse or domestic partner).

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) 

    FMLA requires that an "eligible" employee must be granted a total of up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a rolling 12-month period for the following reasons:

    1. The birth or adoption of a child, or the foster care placement of a child.
    2. To care for a spouse, child or parent who has a serious health condition.

    If eligible, FMLA will run concurrently with paid medical leave and parental care leave.

Helpful Suggestions

Preparing for a Leave of Absence

  • Discuss your work and leave needs with your supervisor.
  • Follow up any verbal discussions with a written memorandum detailing what you discussed.  Make sure to include an anticipated return date.
  • Hand in your written notice when you and your supervisor are both clear on the terms of your leave.

Things to Think About

  • Parental care leave is applicable to both mothers and fathers.
  • While on parental care leave, you may substitute paid leave, including vacation or personal days, for any part of your unpaid leave.
  • Health and other insurance benefits coverage may continue during your unpaid leave if you directly pay the premiums; the University does not make contributions on your behalf during an unpaid leave.  For more information, contact HR Benefits at 212-851-7000.
  • A change in your status upon returning to work after your leave may affect your benefits.  You are encouraged to talk to your departmental administrator and HR benefits to better understand what you may be entitled to. 
  • To accommodate work/life challenges and needs, some people may be able to arrange a Flexible Work Arrangement with their supervisor.

 

Staff Represented by Collective Bargaining Agreements

Policies (Union Employees)

Employees who are represented by collective bargaining agreements can find information on parental policies within specific union contracts.  Please visit the Union Contracts section of the Human Resources website for detailed information.

 

 

Graduate Students

Policies  (GRADUATE STUDENTS)

Birth mothers are entitled to approximately 6-8 weeks maternity disability leave with no loss of benefits.  Additionally, doctoral students who become parents may have access to a suspension of responsibilities accommodation period and/or extension of time to degree completion. Check with each school for their policies.

For additional information about policies, programs, and benefits for students who are new parents please refer to the New Parents' Guide for Students.  


Last Updated: 
12/29/15

The information on this website is a summary only, prepared for general informational purposes, and is not a complete description of the University's policies and benefits. No decisions affecting your family or your future should be based solely on the information presented on this webpage.