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 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 https://funding.graduate.ucf.edu/assistantships/.
Applicants for the leave must submit an Application for Parental Leave to the College of Graduate Studies (send to email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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. A student unable to return after the six-week leave period must petition for a Medical Withdrawal or a Special Leave of Absence (contact email@example.com in the College of Graduate Studies).
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).
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 missed during the leave. Any leave for longer than the six-week period must be petitioned as a Medical Withdrawal or a Special Leave of Absence.
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 SPEAK 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.