HR Operations

Parental leave

The University of Washington provides parental leave for all regular professional, classified non-union, and contract covered staff — mothers and fathers, birth and non-birth parents — regardless of how long they have worked here.

You may take parental leave even if you are not eligible for FMLA. If you qualify for FMLA, your parental leave and FMLA will run at the same time. If you have not used up your FMLA entitlement as of the first day of parental leave, then all or part of your parental leave may be designated as covered by the FMLA. Contact your HR leave specialist if you have any questions about parental leave.

Length of leave

Your employment program determines the amount of parental leave time you may take to bond with your newborn or newly placed adopted or foster child.

If you are: You may take up to:
Professional staff 4 months
Contract classified staff Refer to your collective bargaining agreement
Classified non-union staff 6 months

Parental leave is usually approved as one continuous period of time. It is not counted in days or hours; it is a 4 or 6-month period, during which a parent can take a leave of absence to bond with their child. However, with departmental approval, you may be able to work intermittently or request a modified work schedule.

Most parents take parental leave when the child arrives. However, you may take your parental leave any time during the 12 months following your child’s birth, adoption, or placement.

In addition to parental leave, if you are pregnant or are the birth parent, you are also eligible for temporary pregnancy and childbirth disability leave for prenatal and postpartum medical needs, including postpartum recovery.

Return to top


To continue your pay during parental leave, use any of the following types of paid time off:

  • Vacation
  • Personal holiday
  • Holiday credit
  • Compensatory time
  • Discretionary (professional staff only)
  • Sick (The amount of sick time off you can use during parental leave is determined by your employment program or collective bargaining agreement.)
  • Shared leave
If you are: You may use:
Professional staff Up to 18 weeks of sick time off
Contract covered staff Refer to your collective bargaining agreement
Classified non-union staff Up to 18 weeks of sick time off

You may also have the option to take unpaid time off.

Parental Shared Leave

The shared leave program is available to employees who are sick or temporarily disabled because of a pregnancy-related medical condition or miscarriage, and for parental leave.

Return to top


If your leave is covered by FMLA, the University will continue to pay its employer portion of your health insurance. You will still be responsible for any portion of your health benefits that you normally pay.

Once your 12 weeks of FMLA is exhausted, if you are absent from work for a full calendar month, you must remain in pay status for at least eight hours that month in order for the University to continue paying its portion of your health insurance.

To remain in pay status, you must do one of the following:

  • Work at least eight hours
  • Use at least eight hours of accrued time off (sick, vacation, discretionary, or compensatory time off; holiday credit; personal holiday; or shared leave) per month to maintain benefits. This is known as “interspersing.” You are allowed to intersperse while you are on approved disability or parental leave. Employees are encouraged to apply paid time off on the first work day of the month in order to continue benefits for that month.

Interspersing will not extend the length of your disability leave beyond the limits listed above under “disability leave allowance.”

If you are absent an entire calendar month without being in pay status, you will need to self-pay (in other words, pay both your and the University’s portion) to keep your health insurance coverage.

Return to top

Dependent health insurance coverage

If you have UW health insurance, you can add your new dependent child to your coverage. You have only 60 days from the date of birth/placement to enroll your child onto your health insurance. Please review the ISC’s Life Event: Birth or Adoption web page for instructions and deadlines.

Return to top

Time off accrual

You continue to accrue vacation and sick time off if you do not take more than 10 days of unpaid time off in a calendar month.

Return to top


To be paid for a scheduled holiday, you must be in pay status as follows:

If you are: Then you must be in pay status:
Professional staff At least four hours on the workday preceding the holiday
Contract classified At least four hours on the workday preceding the holiday
Classified non-union The entire work shift on the workday preceding the holiday

If you do not meet the requirement above, the holiday will be designated as unpaid time off.

Return to top

Requesting parental leave

Campus staff: Complete and submit the applicable parental leave form:

Request the entire period you would like to take parental leave in Workday (see Leave of Absence – Sick/Injured or Becoming a Parent User Guide). Request time offs (sick, vacation, unpaid) for each day of your parental leave in Workday.

If you will run out of accrued time off during your parental leave, you may request shared leave. Request parental shared leave for the entire period you would like to take parental leave in Workday. If you receive donations, you may use them once your accrued sick and vacation time off balances are at or below 40 hours.

Medical centers staff: Request parental leave by following your department’s usual leave request procedure.

Return to top

Returning to work

Two weeks before you are scheduled to return to work, contact your supervisor to discuss your department’s return-to-work process.

To help with your transition back to work, UW WorkLife offers information on child care options and University lactation stations.

Return to top

Supervisor responsibilities

Follow these steps for managing parental leave:

  1. Confirm that the employee has followed the procedure for requesting leave/time-off and submitted a completed health-care provider certification form to your HR leave specialist.
  2. Contact the employee within two weeks of their return date to discuss the return-to-work process. If you are unable to reach the employee, speak with your HR consultant or HR leave specialist.
  3. Contact your HR consultant or HR leave specialist if the employee requests a leave extension, reduction in hours, or change in job duties.


Contact your HR leave specialist.

Return to top

Additional resources

Return to top