HR Operations

Parental leave

Last updated: September 22, 2023

This page applies to all regular professional staff, classified staff, contract covered staff, and librarians. Academic personnel may find information on parental leave on the Becoming a parent – academic personnel webpage.

The University of Washington provides parental leave for both birth and non-birth parents in regular professional staff, classified non-union staff, contract covered staff, and librarian positions. Parental leave is separate from post-partum disability leave that is available to birth parents.


Parental leave is available from day one of employment for professional, classified non-union, and contract covered staff in regular positions. If you are in a nonpermanent or intermittent classified non-union position, you qualify for parental leave after you have worked for the state of Washington (including UW) for at least twelve months and for at least 1,250 hours in the previous twelve-month period.

You may take parental leave even if you are not eligible for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (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.

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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 6 months
Contract covered staff Refer to your collective bargaining agreement
Classified non-union staff 6 months
Librarians 4 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. You are able to work intermittently or request a modified work schedule during parental leave while also taking Paid Family Medical Leave or with departmental approval.

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.

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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
  • Sick (the amount of sick time off you can use during parental leave is determined by your employment program or collective bargaining agreement, see below)
  • Parental 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
Librarians 30 days 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.

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The University will continue to pay the employer portion of your health insurance during months of your parental leave that:

  • are covered by FMLA; and/or
  • are covered by PFML and you have worked for the state of Washington (including UW) for at least twelve months and for at least 1,250 hours in the previous twelve-month period

You will still be responsible for any portion of your health benefits that you normally pay. If you are absent from work for a full calendar month and your leave is no longer covered by FMLA or PFML, you must remain in pay status for at least eight hours that month 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 covered by a collective bargaining agreement may be required to apply paid time off on the first work day of the month in order to continue benefits for that month; otherwise, employees are encouraged to apply paid time off on the first work day of the month.

Interspersing will not extend the length of your parental leave beyond the limited listed above under Length of leave.

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.

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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 or 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.

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Time off accrual

Employees with a FTE continue to accrue vacation and sick time off if they do not take more than 10 days of unpaid time off in a calendar month. If unpaid time off is taken in excess of 10 days in a month, there is no accrual of vacation time off in that month and no accrual of sick time off for overtime exempt classified non-union employees. Overtime eligible classified and professional staff employees and overtime exempt contract classified and professional staff who have more than 80 hours of unpaid time off in a month (prorated for part-time) accrue sick time off on a prorated basis proportionate to the number of hours in pay status for the month.

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To be paid for a scheduled holiday, Holiday Taken Time Off must be entered on that holiday and regular and nonpermanent – fixed duration staff 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 covered staff Unless a collective bargaining agreement states otherwise, 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. This requirement does not apply to employees in nonpermanent – hourly and intermittent positions.

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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 off 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.

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Returning to work

Two weeks before you are scheduled to return to work, contact your manager 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 spaces.

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Manager 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. Confirm that the employee has entered time off (paid or unpaid) for each day of their parental leave.
  3. 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.
  4. Contact your HR consultant or HR leave specialist if the employee requests a leave extension, reduction in hours, or change in job duties.

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Contact your HR leave specialist.

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Additional resources

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