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Most UNC Employees To Get Parental Leave

File photo of a family meeting a new baby.
Scott Sherrill-Mix
flickr, creative commons,

Employees across North Carolina's public university system will soon receive paid time off to care for a newborn or newly adopted child.

The University of North Carolina System Board of Governors, which oversees the 17-campus public university system, approved a new family leave policy that will give eight weeks of paid time off to birth mothers, and four weeks of paid time off to new fathers or other non-birth parents.

Under current policy, university faculty may take time off after becoming parents, but the system's 30,000 other employees were required to take accrued time off, either sick or vacation leave, if they wanted to stay home with their new baby.

The policy follows an executive action taken by Governor Roy Cooper that afforded state employees the new benefit. Almost all Council of State departments opted in to the policy as well, with only the departments of Labor, Insurance and Office of the State Treasurer opting out. The University System needed to opt in, which it did through Friday's move by the board of governors.

"This new benefit is something the Board of Governors is excited to offer our employees, and is something we have been working on for some time," Chairman Harry Smith said through a released statement. "We want to ensure that North Carolina remains competitive, not only among its fellow agencies, but also with other states, so that we can continue to attract and retain the best and brightest."

In a Thursday committee meeting prior to the full Friday full board vote, Board of Governors members said they heard that not having this benefit served as an impediment to recruiting and retaining young talent. Other university systems around the nation already offer this benefit, making employment at their campuses more attractive.

"We have young talent, and they're starting families, and so we just think it will be an important tool for retaining talent and bringing them to our system," said Wendy Murphy, a board of governors member and chairwoman of the personnel and tenure committee.

She added that the time immediately after birth was so precious for new parents. "Whether you gave birth or adopted, you're bonding, and that's just an important time for families. The mothers and the fathers. So we're just happy that we can give that to the employees."

Officials say implementation of the policy is planned for the beginning of 2020.

Jason deBruyn is the WUNC health reporter, a beat he took in 2020. He has been in the WUNC newsroom since 2016.
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