NOTE: There are significant updates to this FAQ as of Fall 2017.
Who is eligible for childrearing leave? Are teachers on paternity leave provided with the same benefits as those on maternity leave?
Any teacher (temporary, probationary, and permanent status) connected with the arrival of a new child either through natural birth or adoption is eligible for maternity/paternity leave. Paternity leave benefits are the same as maternity leave benefits. Domestic partners as defined in section 14.17 of the BUSD/BFT contract are eligible for maternity/paternity leave benefits.
What are the main options for childrearing leave?
Members can choose between Childrearing Leave as defined in Article 12.4.1 of the BFT/BUSD contract, or they can choose Parental Leave as defined in Article 12.4.2 of the BFT/BUSD contract.
What will I be paid while on maternity/paternity leave?
If you are using Childrearing Leave you will be paid 25% of your own salary for 89 days. If you use sick days as part of your leave those will be paid at 100% of your pay. The maximum number of days of Childrearing Leave is 89 days, including any sick days used. Bargaining unit hourly teachers are entitled to maternity/paternity leaves without pay.
If you are using Parental Leave you must exhaust all of your sick leave days and you will then be paid the difference between your daily rate of pay and your sub’s daily rate of pay. Parental Leave is for a period of 60 days.
How will my pay come to me over the course of the year I am on leave?
The allocation of this pay over the entire course of the school year that includes your leave is complex. You should receive a spreadsheet of projected compensation for the entire school year that includes your leave from BUSD as part of the letter you receive approving your leave. This spreadsheet should come with an explanation of the basic principles and policies that govern the allocation of your pay. A BUSD document outlining these general principles is also available on the BFT website. If you are not provided with this information, please send an email to Director of Personnel, Brent Daniels at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be sure to cc BFT on that email.
In general, your total pay owed for the entire year from the date you start your leave, until the end of the school year, will be allocated in equal chunks over the affected months. This means that when you return to work after your leave your pay per month will not be the same as it was before you went on leave. It will be reduced.
ALL of your paychecks for the remainder of the year are impacted once you go on leave.
It is extremely important to fully understand how you will be paid while on leave AND AFTER YOUR LEAVE before your leave begins.
How do I go about applying for maternity/paternity leave and notifying the BUSD Personnel office of the actual date when it begins?
BFT recommends submitting a request for leave around 4 months before your baby is due. This will provide you with vital financial information that will allow you to plan for your leave and AFTER your leave, and allow BUSD to hire a substitute for your absence.
The BUSD Leave of Absence Request forms are available on the BFT web site. You need to fill out a BUSD Leave of Absence Request form, marking the “maternity/paternity/child rearing leave” box and listing your expected due date. You should send this in an email to Brent Daniels in the Human Resources office. It is best to scan the document to yourself, and then send it to Brent Daniels with a clear subject heading.
You should also notify your principal at least 2 or 3 months ahead of your due date and discuss with him or her arrangements for a long-term substitute for your position. Your principal will coordinate this process with the Human Resources office.
Within a week after the baby is born, you should resubmit the BUSD Leave of Absence Request form and mark on it the actual date when your baby was born and thus the actual date that your maternity/paternity/childrearing leave pay should start. Remember that if you wish to take advantage of Childrearing Leave or Parental Leave you must enact it at the time the child is born or earlier. You cannot come back a couple of weeks or months after the child is born and still be eligible for paid leave at that point.
Once my baby is born, can I use sick leave for the first part of my maternity/paternity leave and then switch over to Childrearing Leave after a few weeks?
Yes, you can use sick leave as the beginning of a Childrearing Leave and then switch to 25% days. You cannot have more than 89 days of Childrearing Leave in total.
For Parental Leave you must exhaust all of your sick leave days and then you will receive differential pay. If you need to use sick days during your pregnancy you may do so, of course. You cannot have more than 60 days of Parental Leave in total.
There are options for unpaid leave after your Childrearing or Parental Leave end. Please see more information later in this FAQ.
If you have a C-Section delivery and you will run out of your own sick leave days during the 89-day period, you may be eligible for days from the BFT/BUSD Sick Leave Bank if you are a member of the Bank. You should contact BFT at email@example.com if this may apply to you.
If I have enough sick leave accumulated, do I have the option of simply using sick leave so that I am fully paid?
Yes, you can use Childrearing Leave and use 89 days of sick leave or Parental Leave using 60 days of sick leave.
Please keep in mind that during the first few years after the baby is born you will inevitably find yourself with numerous occasions where you will need sick days in order to stay home with your infant/toddler. The BFT recommends that you try to ensure that you have plenty of sick days on hand for these occasions. Keep in mind that if you return to work with no sick days in reserve and you must be absent for any reason your pay will be docked and your STRS service credit will be affected.
Am I eligible for State Disability Insurance?
No. There are no districts in California currently where certificated employees are part of SDI. BFT is considering a move to SDI and this proposal would be voted on by the entire membership.
If I find that for health reasons I am unable to continue working for the last few weeks before the birth of my child, can I begin receiving my BUSD maternity leave pay during this time?
Yes, however, keep in mind that you are only allowed a total of 89 working days of Childrearing Leave, or a total of 60 days of Parental Leave. If you use up some Childrearing Leave days before the birth of the child you will not have the full 89 working days once the child is born (and same for Parental Leave).
For example, if you begin your Childrearing Leave six weeks (approximately 30 working days) before the birth of the child, you would only have 59 working days of maternity leave pay after the child is born (89 - 30 = 59).
You can use sick leave before the baby is born. You may be asked to provide a doctor’s note (though this is rare).
What happens if my Childrearing or Parental Leave is completed and I find that I am not ready (or healthy enough) to come back to work?
If you near the completion of your Childrearing Leave or Parental Leave and you then find that you need to be out longer, you have essentially two options:
a) If it is the case that you are not healthy enough to come back to work, you can use any accumulated sick leave that you might have in order to continue to receive pay for the days you remain out. Please note that if you use sick leave at this time you may be asked for a doctor’s verification. Please also note that if your sick leave is exhausted and you are a member of the BFT/BUSD Sick Leave Bank you can apply for sick leave through the BFT/BUSD Sick Leave Bank at this time. If you are neither a member of the Sick Leave Bank nor have enough accumulated sick leave in reserves, you can apply for unpaid extended maternity/paternity leave.
b) If it is not necessarily a health issue, you can simply apply for unpaid extended maternity/paternity leave until the end of the school year. Please note that if you wish to apply for unpaid extended maternity/paternity leave, you should do so at least 20 working days prior to the expiration of your Childrearing or Parental Leave. (BFT/BUSD Contract Section 22.214.171.124) If one applies at least 20 working days prior to the expiration of the Childrearing or Parental Leave, these unpaid extended maternity/paternity leaves are always granted by BUSD.
If I find that I am ordered to bed rest during the pregnancy or otherwise find that I am unable to continue working for a number of months before the birth of my child, are there any type of State or STRS disability benefits for which I am eligible?
No. Berkeley Unified teachers do not presently pay into SDI (State Disability Insurance) and therefore are not eligible for such. Berkeley Unified teachers do pay into STRS (State Teachers Retirement System) and therefore we are indeed eligible for STRS disability benefits, however the minimum time period for which one can apply for STRS disability benefits is one year. Pregnancy or pregnancy related disabilities that last less than a year are not eligible to receive STRS disability benefits.
BFT is considering a move to SDI and this proposal would be voted on by the entire membership.
Are the working days of Childrearing or Parental Leave exclusive of any weekends, holidays, or summer break days?
Yes. The leave is for working days only.
If I am out on maternity/paternity leave for part of the school year, will I still receive my normal July and August paychecks in the summer and will they be full?
You will still receive your July and August paychecks, but they will not be the same full amount that you normally receive. Here’s why: BUSD’s current practice is to allocate your compensation while on leave AND AFTER leave in equal allotments. This means your July and August checks may be substantially different from your checks before you went on leave. Please see question #4, above. If you have questions about the spreadsheet you receive from BUSD of your projected compensation during AND AFTER your leave, we recommend making an appointment with Director of Personnel, Brent Daniels. In addition, we recommend that you read the BUSD document on this subject on the BFT website.
Will the school year when I am partially out on maternity/paternity leave count as a year of service for moving up on the salary schedule the following year?
In order for your school year to count as a year of service on the salary schedule you must work 75% of the days of the year. Paid sick leave and days on differential paid maternity/paternity leave do not count as work days in reaching the 75% mark. Extended (unpaid) maternity/paternity leave or other kinds of unpaid leave do not count as work days in reaching the 75% mark.
How do I add my baby to my medical benefits coverage?
It is critical that you contact the Benefits office within 30 calendar days of your baby's birth if you are going to be adding the baby to your medical coverage. It is best to go in person to the Benefits office. Be sure to bring a copy of your baby's birth certificate when you go.
How are my medical benefits impacted by Childrearing or Parental Leave?
You should continue to receive the same level of District health benefits coverage as before your leave while on Childrearing or Parental Leave. If you go on UNPAID Extended Childrearing or Parental Leave you will need to pay the full costs of your benefits. You can find the total cost of your medical and dental benefits on the Benefits Schedules on the BFT website.
Any other questions?
Please don’t hesitate to contact the BFT office at firstname.lastname@example.org.