Senate Bill 20’s paid parental leave statute, which was modified by the state legislature in June, went into effect earlier this month. The statute entitles state employees to up to eight weeks of paid leave following the birth of a child and up to four weeks after adopting or becoming a foster parent.
The employees receiving paid parental leave must also be employed by the state for at least a year before receiving the leave.
Helen Gross, the principal at Swansboro High School and thus an employee of the state, said she is excited to see paid parental leave as a new benefit for staff this school year. She said previously, staff members who had children were required to use their own leave.
“Sometimes, they would go on short-term disability, but primarily they were using their own leave and many times they would be in a leave without pay situation because they wouldn't have enough leave in order to cover the length of a maternity leave, which averages between six to 12 weeks for most new parents,” she said.
Gross said the new parental paid leave policy is a powerful move in the right direction, and that it is going to make public school staff recruitment more competitive compared to the private sector.
Daycare centers in coastal North Carolina have long waiting lists, so providing paid parental leave to teachers relieves pressure and is an attractive employment benefit, she said.
Thomas Tomberlin, senior director of educator preparation, licensure and performance at the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, said full-time and part-time employees get the same duration of paid leave, but that part-time employees’ salary is prorated.
“If you're part-time and the salary for the position is $60,000 and you're working 50 percent time, of course, you earn $30,000 a year,” he said.
Before the paid parental leave statute modification in June, the state employees receiving paid parental leave must have worked at one employer for at least a year before receiving the leave.