A new policy giving staff at the University of New Mexico paid parental leave went into effect at the start of the month.
Regular full- and part-time employees are eligible for four weeks of paid leave after having or adopting a child. Prior to the policy, UNM staff could take either unpaid leave through the Family Medical Leave Act or use other types of paid time off they had accrued. Under the new policy, both mothers and fathers are able to take paid time off.
“UNM wants to be a place where people enjoy working,” said Ryan Gregg, the president of UNM’s Staff Council. “It’s one of the largest employers (in New Mexico) and we can set the tone for how things should be done.”
UNM President Garnett Stokes approved the policy earlier this year. In February, the Staff Council passed a resolution asking for six weeks of paid parental leave.
UNM faculty have had a paid parental leave policy, allowing faculty members to take a semester off, since 2011.
In 2018, there were more than 2,500 staff members on UNM’s main campus who would have qualified for paid parental leave, according to UNM’s Office of Institutional Analysis.
An analysis by UNM estimated staff members would have 178 babies and adopt nine children in a year. The new policy could cost an estimated $511,000 in paid leave annually, according to a projections provided by Daniel Jiron, a UNM spokesman.
The city of Albuquerque last year became the first municipality in the state to offer its employees paid parental leave. The city offers 12 weeks of paid parental leave.
“A lot of times with these policies there is a discussion, ‘Can the institution or the enterprise really sustain it?’ It’s helpful for somebody to go first,” Gregg said. “And when the city said, ‘We think we can do this.’ … I think it did probably create some momentum and help us.”