Colorado State University introduces paid parental leave for graduate assistants


Colorado State University has introduced a new paid parental leave policy for graduate assistants who are enrolled on a full time master’s or PhD programme.

The policy allows graduate assistants who are a primary caregiver to take up to six weeks of paid parental leave immediately after the birth or adoption of a child. Non-primary caregivers are entitled to three weeks of paid parental leave under the policy.

The policy applies to eligible graduate assistants who are the new parent of a child, including mothers, fathers, and spouses, domestic partners, and civil union partners of the child’s mother or father.

The new parental leave benefit, which came into effect on 16 August 2016, aims to enhance the work-life balance of graduate students.

The policy’s introduction was spearheaded by Katherine Lininger, Grace Miner, and Cheryl Bowker, graduate students at Colorado State University, who worked with the dean of the university’s graduate school.

A task force was then established to create the policy, and gather input from relevant parties. A survey of 1,100 graduate students was also conducted to help inform the policy.

In addition to the new parental leave scheme, faculty staff are encouraged to be flexible when parents return from leave.

Lininger said: “Giving parents options that promote professional-personal balance allows them to excel in their academic pursuits. Financial support is an important piece of the equation.”

Bowker added: “We wanted to further encourage a culture that values and supports everyone. This policy is a step in the right direction.

“We are proud of the policy and the example it sets. Hopefully this will pave the way for implementing other inclusive policies.”