Board of trustees extend maternity leave to four weeks

Joe May, chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District, speaks to the Board of Trustees at a workshop meeting in March 2017. Photo by James Hartley/The Et Cetera
By KATHRYN HIGGINS
@KatyHigginsETC

A new change in maternity leave policy gives employees of the Dallas County Community College District four weeks off work instead of one day for the birth or adoption of a child.

The Board of Trustees unanimously approved the change during its Sept. 5 meeting.

Under the previous policy, employees were allowed a single day of leave. Any time after would need to come from their accumulated sick days and vacation time.

Dusty Reasons Thomas, a professor of theater and a mother of two, is excited about the change in policy but thinks it would be better if it were six to eight weeks.

“Faculty has it easier than staff because we’re on a nine-month contract,” Thomas said. “But staff works 12 months out of the year, so they would have to plan to have their baby during spring break or Christmas break and that’s really hard.”

This new policy allows DCCCD employees to take the paid parental leave after 36 months of employment and will be eligible again every 36 months.

“I think this is a long time coming,” Thomas said. “My second daughter, she happened a little earlier than we planned, so I had to plan my class schedule and my work schedule and use up all my sick leave.”

This benefit extends to both mothers and fathers.

“We’re recommending this as a way to continue to build our reputation as a family-friendly employer,” said Susan Hall, DCCCD chief talent officer. Adoption and foster-care placement will also be covered. The policy allows adopting parents to take maternity leave when an adoption is official and a child is now living with the family.

“Adoption processes, especially a foreign adoption, could take many, many months,” said Rob Wendland, DCCCD general counsel.

Most colleges in Texas either offer one day of maternity leave or no maternity leave at all.

“The policy reads that … leave can only be taken once in a 36 month period, and theoretically you could have three kids in a 36 month period,” Trustee Joseph Ritter asked. “Is that too restrictive?”

Hall said the important thing was to pass the policy now, taking a step in the right direction.

“We can look after the first year, and certainly after the second year and know better,” Hall said.

The board also voted on a policy change related to weapons on campus. The policy, in response to open sword carry law that went into effect Sept. 1, still only allows for blades 5.5 inches on campus.

—Macks Prewitt contributed to this report.

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