Mayor Bill de Blasio alongside the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) President Michael Mulgrew, announced earlier today an agreement to provide paid parental leave for all New York City public school teachers.
Per the contract, the city will provide six weeks of paid parental leave at 100 percent of salary for 120,000 UFT-represented employees – including all city public school teachers.
Paid parental leave will be available for the birth of a child for both birth parents and non-birth parents and adoption or foster of a child under the age of 6. Birth parents will be able to combine their current paid sick leave provisions with parental leave for up to 12 to 14 weeks total. It is estimated that more than 4,000 new parents will use this benefit annually. The benefit will begin on September 4, 2018.
“No teacher should have to come to school sick because they’re saving their sick days to have a baby. That’s not fair to our teachers and that’s not fair to our students. Today, we right that wrong and make the city a little fairer,” said de Blasio.
The contract covers all of the approximately 79,000 New York City public school teachers, plus UFT-represented school nurses, therapists, guidance counselors, secretaries and others. Eligible full-time and part-time employees may initially claim the benefit after being on payroll for a total of one calendar year. While on leave, they will be paid their full salary.
“Our educators give so much to the children in their classrooms. Now, New York City has a way for educators to spend more time with their own children. I give credit to Mayor de Blasio. He knew this was important for our city. No mayor before him was willing to do it, but he got it done,” said Mulgrew.
Approximately 75 percent of New York City’s teachers are women. According to the Department of Education’s (DOE) maternity leave policy, they must use sick days, if any are available, in order to be paid for up to six weeks (or eight weeks in the event of a C-Section).
Teachers must save three years’ worth of sick days in order to take a six week leave (or four years’ worth for eight weeks). New mothers who do not have enough sick days saved are forced to borrow against future sick days, leaving them unable to take time off if they or their child fall ill. This policy does not apply to adoptive parents, parents who foster children, or fathers, even if they have saved the requisite amount of sick days.
The announcement was applauded by many Brooklyn Lawmakers, including first time parents Majority Leader Laurie A. Cumbo (D-Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights) and Councilman Antonio Reynoso (D-Bushwick, Williamsburg) who both recently became parents.
“Parental leave is a critical support for both parent and child, but far too often parents have to choose between their child and their paycheck. This is a particularly egregious situation to put teachers in because they give so much to our children, and yet we deprive them of the ability to take care of their own. Policies like parental leave are a part of advancing gender equity in the home and in the workplace, which is especially relevant for the UFT whose membership is 77 percent women,” said Cumbo.
“Today, I am proud to celebrate paid parental leave for all New York City public school teachers, and I thank all who have fought to make this a reality. As a new father myself, I am aware of how critical it is for parents to bond with their children during such a formative time. I was fortunate enough to have been able to spend this quality time with my child, and am glad to see that this will now be extended to all New York City public school teachers,” said Reynoso.
“Our city’s public school educators dutifully care for our children each and every day, and I am incredibly proud that our city is finally going to ensure that they and their children are being taken care of as well. As a former educator, I am excited that after months of advocacy, hearings, and press conferences, our teachers are going to be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. This makes our city fairer and helps attract quality educators to an honorable profession in which we’ve seen a decline in teacher retention rates,” said Council Member Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island, Bensonhurst, Gravesend), Chair of the Committee on Education. “
“In New York City, we count on teachers to care for our children, and to help give them the tools they need to take on the world. Teachers deserve the right to care for their own children as well. This is a big deal and today is a big day,” said Council Member Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, Bensonhurst).
“All parents deserve the opportunity to spend quality time with their family. Whatever your particular profession may be, parents should not be forced to take sick or vacation time, or worse, have no choice but to go back to work prematurely. That is not the New York City any of us wants,” said Council Member Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO, Williamsburg, Boerum Hill).
“I’m thrilled that New York City’s public school teachers will now be guaranteed paid parental leave. Our public school teachers work hard every day to take care of our kids, and they deserve the necessary time to take care of their own,” said Council Member Brad Lander (D-Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington).
The new benefit will come at no new cost to the city’s taxpayers. The city will contribute approximately $51 million to the UFT Welfare Fund annually. This will be offset by extending the 2009-2018 UFT collective bargaining agreement by approximately two and one-half months, and fringe benefits and other savings.