By Naeisha Rose
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced that mothers, fathers and non-birth parents who are public school teachers as well as other city Department of Education employees will be granted six weeks of paid parental leave at 100 percent of salary starting Sept. 4, according to the United Federation of Teachers.
“Paid parental leave allows families to grow and bond together in those essential first months of a child’s life or adoption without parents putting their jobs on the line,” said U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria). “As a mother, former teacher, and author of legislation on the federal level to expand family leave policies, I know how important that time is for a child’s development and for a parent’s peace of mind.”
For the first time fathers, foster parents, adoptive parents and surrogates will be eligible for paid time off with the arrival of a child as part of the June 20 agreement, which was made between the mayor and the UFT, the union that represents school workers.
Queens has approximately 30,000 school employees represented by the UFT. Overall, the union has more than 120,000 city workers who are members.
Birth mothers will be allowed to combine parental leave with accrued sick days, which will give them up to 12 to 14 weeks of paid time off to bond with their newborn children, according to the UFT.
This will cost the union $35 million and will be funded by a 73-day extension of the existing UFT contracts, which had been scheduled to expire Nov. 30, according to the organization. The agreement will not require the loss of an expected raise, reduce vacation time or result in a concession for the school employees.
“Our educators give so much to the children in their classrooms,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “Now New York City has a way for educators to spend more time with their own children.”
Elected officials throughout the city were happy with the mutual decision between the union and the mayor.
“Today’s announcement is great news for working families across our city,” City Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Far Rockaway) said. “Parents should never have to choose between nursing a newborn and work.”
City Councilman Francisco Moya (D-East Elmhurst) shared Richards’ sentiments.
“For too long, being a present parent has been treated as a nuisance by employers, either implicitly or explicitly,” said Moya. “I’m heartened to see New York City allowing public school teachers and those represented by the UFT the time to bond and care for their children during those precious first days and weeks.”
Other school employees who will benefit from the provision include teacher’s aides, guidance counselors, school nurses, supervisors and supervisors of school safety personnel.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose