More paid time for teachers on parental leave

More paid time for teachers on parental leave

(Calif.) New mothers and fathers that are teachers would receive a boost in paid leave under a bill pending in the California Legislature.

AB 375 by Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D-San Jose, would expand the definition of ‘differential pay’ to include parental leave – a benefit some school districts already offer but under the legislation would be required of all local educational agencies.

Differential pay, as defined in the Education Code, is the difference between an employee’s daily rate of pay and the cost to hire a substitute to replace them. That difference in cost is paid to the employee who is out on qualifying leave.

Existing law provides differential pay for up to five months to any certified school employee that has exhausted all accumulated sick leave but continues to be absent because of illness or injury.

Campos said it makes sense to extend the benefit to new parents.

“Forcing teachers and other certified employees to take entirely unpaid leave or none in the case of a new father, can lead to several issues for the employee, the school district and society,” she said in a statement.

“Lower parental leave has been positively correlated with lower cognitive test scores and higher rates of behavior problems,” she said. “Paid parental leave actually improves the odds of parents returning to work. Researchers cite the ability of a new mother to establish and maintain a routine that supports a return to work rather than one that they must create before their understanding of the needs of their infant is established.”

She noted that over next decade – as baby boomers retire – California will need to hire about 100,000 teachers and adding parental leave to the list of life events covered by differential pay could prove a valuable recruitment tool.

California already has on the books a family leave act that largely mirrors a federal family leave law that provides for up to 12 weeks of unpaid family or medical leave for workers.

For new mothers that are also teachers, the family leave provisions are typically not taken until after they’ve exhausted all their sick time and a six to eight week pregnancy disability period.

The Campos bill would provide paid leave to correlate more closely to the 12 weeks offered under the California Family Leave Act.

The proposal, which awaits action before the Assembly Appropriation Committee, has so far attracted no formal opposition – but analysis points out that if approved, it would increase costs for all school districts.

Several teacher unions are supporting the bill, including the California Teachers Association, which called maternity leave an “essential” benefit for both families and schools.

“Paid family leave helps keep people in the workforce after they have children,” CTA said in a statement. “When more workers are able to take leave, they’re more likely to choose to remain in the labor market, and paid parental leave is associated with higher employment in economies around the world. With today’s modern and creative family structures, paternity leave after the birth of a child means both caregivers will more be involved in a child’s direct care nine months later — changing diapers, feeding, bathing — than a parent who doesn’t take leave.”

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