By William Elarton-Selig, AFT 1521 Executive VP, Chair of the Joint Labor Management Benefits Committee (JLMBC)
"FMLA" refers to the Family and Medical Leave Act, which is a federal law that guarantees certain employees up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave each year with no threat of job loss. FMLA also requires that employers covered by the law maintain health benefits for eligible workers just as if they were working. In general, female employees normally take two types of leave while on maternity leave. The first leave is an Illness Leave (also called “sick leave”) for the “pregnancy-disability” portion of the leave. The duration of the leave is determined by the doctor -- normally 6 to 8 weeks. Pay during this type of leave is generated by use of the faculty member’s illness days. Faculty members are able to use half-pay illness days once the full-pay illness days have been exhausted. D basis faculty are also able to use their non-duty D basis days if approved by the department chair.
Most faculty members follow the Illness Leave with an FMLA bonding leave. Faculty members are entitled to 12 weeks of FMLA bonding leave per calendar year and can take the leave up to the baby’s first birthday. The unions have negotiated to run FMLA quota on a calendar year basis so a faculty member can take two 12-week periods of FMLA bonding for one child. For example, if the baby is born in June 2019, the parent can take 12 weeks of FMLA bonding leave in 2019 and another 12 weeks in 2020 up to the baby’s first birthday.
Faculty members on FMLA bonding leave have the option of a paid FMLA leave using their illness quota (full-pay and half-pay) or an unpaid leave (but district-paid medical benefits are still provided). Also, the Faculty Guild has negotiated for a separate paid “Maternity/Paternity Leave,” which provides for the District to pay 50% of the faculty member’s salary for the first 10 days on this type of leave. For these first 10 days of leave, only five days are deducted from the faculty member’s illness quota. The “Maternity/Paternity” leave is run concurrently with the FMLA bonding leave.
Adjunct faculty are also entitled to take Illness Leave for pregnancy if they start the class before taking leave. Adjunct faculty are also eligible for FMLA bonding leave if they have worked for the District for at least 12 months. Adjuncts are entitled to half-pay illness while on Illness Leave if they are on the seniority list, per the contract. Adjuncts are also entitled to use half-pay illness for FMLA bonding leave. The requirement to have worked 1250 hours in the year prior to bonding leave was removed in California in 2016 due to a revision of state law. The “Maternity/Paternity” leave that the Guild negotiated is available to contract and regular faculty only.