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Parental Leave
Questions & Answers

How much parental leave can an employee have?
Contract classified staff (classified staff who are covered by a labor contract) are entitled to parental leave in accordance with the provisions of the applicable contract.
Professional staff are entitled to parental leave according to the provisions of the Professional Staff Program.
Librarians may take up to four months of parental leave. Parental leave may be a combination of annual leave, up to ten days of sick leave, personal holiday, and leave without pay.
Classified non-union staff who are permanent or who have worked for the state for at least 12 months and for at least 1250 hours during the previous 12 month period are entitled to take up to six months of parental leave in accordance with the Department of Personnel rules.
Under Washington State law, any temporary disability leave that a birth mother must take is not deducted from her parental leave entitlement.
Is parental leave paid or unpaid?
Parental leave is paid only if the employee has paid leave or compensatory time that can be used during the time the employee is on parental leave. If the employee does not have paid leave that the employee can, then parental leave is unpaid.
Does an employee get employer-paid medical benefits covered during parental leave?
If an employee is in a position that receives employer-paid health benefits, then the employee's coverage continues while on parental leave under the following conditions:
  • The employee is covered by and eligible to take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) whether or not the employee has paid leave that the employee can use.
  • The employee is on paid leave or compensatory time during the period of parental leave. An employee who has a limited amount of paid leave can ensure continuing health insurance coverage by spreading out the use of paid leave to be on the payroll for at least eight hours during a month.
The employee remains responsible for any employee-paid insurance premiums or co-payments while receiving employer-paid benefits.
Can sick leave be used for maternity and parental leave?
A birth mother's sick leave can always be used during periods of pregnancy-related temporary disability. Some employment programs allow a limited use of sick leave for parental leave.
How much temporary disability leave can a birth mother take?
The amount of temporary disability leave a birth mother can take is not fixed. It depends on her condition and her health care provider's determination about her ability to work.
Is there a time period during which parental leave must be taken?
Unless specified otherwise by the terms of the particular employment program, parental leave must be taken within 12 months of a child's birth, or the placement of an adoptive or foster child.
Can an employee whose partner or wife is pregnant take parental leave?
The employee is eligible to take parental leave in accordance with the provisions of employee's employment program.
Can an employee whose wife (or domestic partner) just had a baby use accrued sick leave to care for her as she recovers from childbirth?
An employee may use accrued sick leave to take care of the birth mother if the employee's presence is required because the birth mother has a serious or emergent health condition. A physician's certification may be required. Employees may use accrued sick leave to care for their child only if the child has a health condition requiring treatment or supervision.
Can an employee receive shared leave donations to cover time away from work due temporary pregnancy related disability or for parental leave?
Shared leave is not available for normal, uncomplicated post-partum recovery. Employees may be eligible to receive and use shared leave, if there is a pregnancy-related complication, such as a condition that requires extended periods of bed rest before delivery to ensure the health of the mother and baby. See Shared Leave.

Becoming a Parent
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