Guest Blog: University’s Parental Leave Proposal

Categories: Bargaining Updates 2012, Parental Leave, Tenure

FA Note: During this round of bargaining, we will be posting a limited number of guest blogs written by our members and selected by the bargaining committee to represent important bargaining concerns.

I have been reading over the University’s bargaining proposals as posted on the Faculty Association website. I am writing to express my significant concern with the University’s proposal #6, Maternity / Parental / Adoptive Leave During Pre-Tenure Period. As outlined on the website, the University proposes that the parental leave policy as it affects the tenure clock be changed such that leaves of less than 15 weeks do not result in extending the tenure clock by one year.

As a father-to-be, I am deeply concerned with this proposal. Our department, School of Engineering at UBCO, consists of a young and mostly male faculty. As of now, most of the faculty have taken their parental leave when the opportunity arose. The male faculty take 12 weeks precisely because the University only tops up our salary to 95% for a maximum of 12 weeks. Under the university’s proposal, none of the male faculty who are new fathers would get an extension on their tenure clock. In contrast, this proposed policy change would still allow female faculty who have children to extend their tenure clock, since maternity leave is for 17 weeks with a salary top up to 95%.

In my opinion, the effect of this proposed change would be that fewer fathers would take parental leave, and even the ones who do would continue to work hard during their parental leaves. Canada as a country, and UBC, as an institution, strive for gender equality. The result of this proposed change would reduce the equality when it comes to the birth of a child.

In my personal situation, I will be “working” just as hard as my wife during the first few months after the child is born. Whether my leave is 12 weeks or 15 weeks does not change the fact that the extension of my tenure clock will help me to be an excellent parent, as well as being an excellent UBC faculty member, teacher, researcher, and scholar.

In Canada today, both spouses work, and the general expectation is that both parents share equally in child-rearing. If this is the case, then UBC should make it possible for both female and male faculty members to have their tenure clocks extended when taking the maximum leave that the University is willing to top up for the birth of a child.

André Phillion, Ph.D., P. Eng.
Assistant Professor, School of Engineering
University of British Columbia – Okanagan Campus