FMLA Leave for Birth of a Child

The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), entitles eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period during pregnancy and following the birth of a child. You are eligible for FMLA leave if you have been employed either part-time or full-time with the University for at least 12 months, which do not need to be consecutive or continuous, and have worked at least 1250 hours in the 12 months prior to your absence. An FMLA medical certification form is not required for leaves related to the birth or adoption of a child.

Because University policies typically exceed the FMLA 12-week provision, you should refer to the applicable University policy or union agreement to answer any questions about your absence (length, pay, etc.). FMLA time and absences provided by University policies run concurrently.

FMLA requires that all covered absences are recorded as FMLA. Because the overarching philosophy of the FMLA regulations is that you cannot be disadvantaged due to an absence for an FMLA qualifying event, these absences must be recorded correctly so that errors are avoided when making decisions about promotions, merit pay, tenure, etc.

Maternity Leave

Maternity leave covers the period of time when you are pregnant and unable to work, or the time you are considered disabled following childbirth. Given a normal pregnancy and a normal delivery, you can start maternity leave anytime during the eighth month of pregnancy up until the day the baby is born - that decision is up to you. The maternity leave would last until the baby's six-week birthday. If there is a problem with the pregnancy and/or the delivery, the length of your maternity leave could change. If you are eligible for FMLA, it will run concurrently with your maternity leave. Please be sure to refer to the child care leave information below if you would like to extend your absence beyond your baby’s six-week birthday.


Applicable Paid Time Off

During your maternity leave (6 to 14 weeks, depending on how long before delivery the maternity leave started) you will use accumulated sick time to cover the absence. If you run out of sick time, you have the option to either, use vacation time and other accrued paid time off, or go on a leave without pay. As long as you are in pay status, you will continue to accrue additional sick and vacation time while you are absent.


Applicable Paid Time Off

You are eligible for a minimum of six weeks of paid time off immediately following the birth of the child. Some colleges and campuses provide additional paid time off, consult with your Human Resources Representative for more information. If you are in a faculty position which accrues vacation time, personal holidays, or compensatory time off, such accrued paid time off is to be used as outlined in the staff guidelines.

HRG 7: Absence from Work Resulting from Pregnancy or Childbirth

Child Care Leave

Both the birth mother and her partner are eligible for a child care leave. If you are the birth mother, the child care leave starts after the baby’s six-week birthday when you are no longer considered to be disabled (see the Maternity Leave section above). If you are the partner of the birth mother, any time that you take off for the birth of the child is considered to be child care leave. The length of your child care leave is up to you, up until the baby is one year of age. Any FMLA time that you are eligible for, will run concurrently with the time provided by Penn State for a child care leave.


Applicable Paid Time Off

During this absence, you can choose to use some or all of your vacation, personal holiday, or accrued compensatory time, (not sick time, because you are not disabled) and then take a leave without pay. If you are the partner of the birth mother, you may be eligible to use up to 40 hours of sick family time.


Applicable Paid Time Off

The partner of the birth mother is eligible for a minimum of two weeks off with pay within three months of the birth of the child. Please be sure to refer to the maternity leave information above for applicable time off for the birth mother. Some colleges and campuses provide additional paid time off, consult with your Human Resources Representative for more information. If you accrue vacation time, personal holidays, or compensatory time off, such accrued paid time off is to be used as applicable rather than the guaranteed paid parental leave.

Continuation of Health Care Coverage

As long as you are in pay status, all health care insurances in which you are enrolled will continue at the normal employee contribution rates. Once you go into unpaid status, if you elect to continue your group insurances, the amount you pay for the coverage will depend on the reason for your leave, and/or if your absence is covered by FMLA. During any unpaid maternity or FMLA leave, you will pay the normal employee rates for insurance. Once you go into unpaid status that is not covered by maternity or FMLA, you will be charged the full cost for health care coverage.  

For example, if you have been absent for 8 weeks in pay status and then go on a child care leave without pay, for the first 4 weeks of the leave without pay you would pay the normal employee contribution rate for health care coverage. Starting with the 13th week of absence, you would be charged the full cost for health care coverage.

If you elect not to continue membership in your benefits while on leave without pay, contact the Employee Benefits Office to discuss any qualification requirements imposed by the plan (e.g., waiting period).

Benefit Changes

You may want to add your new dependent(s) to the University's health care plan, you may want to revise your life insurance and/or pension beneficiary, and you may want to change your participation in flexible spending accounts. Some benefits require that you add your child within 31 days of the birth or the date of Intent to Adopt to avoid waiting periods for coverage.

Flexible Work Arrangements


Alternate work arrangements are encouraged when, in the opinion of the supervisor, the University's work needs can be efficiently and effectively met. The purpose of flexible work schedules is to provide a greater capability for each employee to establish their own program of working hours within the workweek without changing the number of hours to be worked.

Telecommuting is a work arrangement in which employees, for a portion of their scheduled work hours, perform their regular job responsibilities away from their primary business location utilizing telecommunication and information technology as appropriate. These arrangements can be either temporary or ongoing.

University and departmental demands are a priority throughout any alternative work arrangement - the arrangement must be transparent to customers in terms of service and quality. Alternative work arrangements are flexible and subject to change as business needs change.


Release from Teaching Responsibilities for Birth Mother

If you are a tenured or tenured-eligible faculty member, you have the option to either take a leave of absence without pay or to be relieved of classroom and classroom-related teaching responsibilities at full pay during the semester of the birth. In special circumstances, depending perhaps on the timing of the birth, the semester free of teaching might follow the one in which the actual birth occurs.

If you choose to be relieved of teaching responsibilities at full pay, you will be expected to pursue scholarly work, student advising, research and other professional service, including departmental and University service, as appropriate and in keeping with reasonable expectations for flexibility, for the period of the semester that does not involve paid leave.

Staying of the Tenure Provisional Period

The promotion and tenure policy provides for the staying of the provisional period if you are a tenure-track faculty member. Upon the written request, the Executive Vice President and Provost may grant a temporary staying of the tenure provisional period; if in their judgment, your academic performance would be adversely affected by the responsibility as primary care giver after the birth or adoption of a child.   


Breastfeeding Support

If you choose to nurse or breastfeed after returning to work, accommodations will be made to allow you a place and time to express milk for up to two years following the birth of your child. You will be allowed a reasonable amount of break time during work hours. If possible, those times should run concurrently with normal break and meal periods. Time allowed in excess of normal break and meal periods will be preferably be covered by flexible work arrangements. You will need to work with your supervisor to establish a mutually convenient time.

Penn State’s Breastfeeding Support Program sponsors several lactation stations on the University Park campus and one at Penn State Abington. These rooms are available to faculty, staff, and students. Additional lactation stations may be established by colleges, campuses, and administrative areas by contacting the Breastfeeding Support Program. If a lactation station is not available and you do not work in a private office, then a private, secure, and sanitary area, other than a restroom will be made available for you. Arrangements for breastfeeding should be made with your supervisor, prior to or during your maternity leave.

HR 20: Breastfeeding Support