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Parental Leave for Graduate Assistants

The Parental Leave program is designed to assist graduate assistants on existing assistantship agreements during pregnancy or immediately after the birth or adoption of their infant child. The mother may choose to use up to six weeks of leave from the assistantship for pregnancy and/or maternity needs.   The spouse or partner may choose to use up to six weeks of leave to assist in the care of the newborn child and the child’s mother during the postpartum period. Graduate assistants who have assumed parenthood through the adoption of an infant may also use this leave. This includes graduate assistants in a domestic partnership. For this leave policy, a domestic partner is defined as a same sex individual who shares a committed, mutually-dependent relationship.

Qualifying for Parental Leave

Only full-time enrolled graduate students holding active assistantship appointments (job codes 9181, 9182, 9183, 9184, 9186, or 9187) are eligible for the leave. These include Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs), Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs), and Graduate Assistants (GAs). For assistantship descriptions, see

Applicants for the leave must submit an Application for Parental Leave to the College of Graduate Studies (send to or Fax 407-823-6442) at least four weeks prior to the anticipated start date of the leave. Provisions will be made for those who must start leave earlier than anticipated due to medical circumstances. The application consists of two parts. Part 1 is the Request form giving the anticipated dates of leave and showing approval of the leave by the funding sponsor of the assistantship (e.g., department chair, research adviser, unit head).  Part 2 is the Anticipated Parent Information from an attending physician about the pregnancy and/or birth or from an adoption agency verifying the date of adoption and arrival of the infant.

All students on parental leave must submit an Intent to Return to Assistantship from Parental Leave form to the College of Graduate Studies (send to or Fax 407-823-6442) at least two weeks before their anticipated return date. Those who experienced pregnancy and delivery must complete the Medical Release section on the form affirming that they have sufficiently recovered to resume their assistantship responsibilities.

Benefits to Graduate Assistants

During the approved parental leave, the student will retain student status and all privileges of an enrolled student.

Approved parental leave is paid leave for up to six weeks but may be a shorter period, depending on the student’s graduate assistantship agreement(s). The student’s assistantship status will be maintained during the leave, including paid tuition remission and health insurance (if the student accepted this coverage offered by the College of Graduate Studies).

The parental leave applies to the graduate assistantship position and does not excuse students from required coursework. Prior to the leave, the student is expected to confer with his/her course instructors to develop plans as necessary to make up any academic work that may be missed during the leave.

Assistantship Payment and Coverage

The College of Graduate Studies will pay the assistantship stipend equal to the rate of the student’s existing assistantship agreement(s) during the approved leave period. Arrangements for this payment will be coordinated with the student’s assistantship sponsor (i.e., hiring department).

Since the assistantship sponsor does not pay the stipend during the approved leave, the sponsor may hire a replacement at its own expense to fill the duties of the student on leave. This hire may be done using a short-term OPSGRD or a Supplemental Assignment for an existing graduate assistant. The Supplemental Assignment will be approved by the College of Graduate Studies as long as the replacement is in good academic standing with at least a Graduate Status GPA of 3.0, has a history of academic progress in the degree program, and has completed required training for their assignments  (e.g., GTA training and English Speaking Test; for grants, responsible conduct of research training).

The parental leave period of up to six weeks is only in effect for the duration of an existing assistantship agreement and will not extend beyond the agreement end date. However, parental leave could be divided between the end of one semester and the beginning of the subsequent semester if there are assistantship agreements in both semesters. 




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