Parental Leave Best Practices for Employees

The University of Iowa strives to provide an environment where employees are supported and treated fairly and with respect during pregnancy and upon their return to work. Evidence shows that the sooner preparations begin for this transition the easier it will be. Effective planning help to avoid the stress caused by a difficult return to work, stress which affects the new parent and his or her colleagues. It will also help ensure the work of the department can continue without loss of momentum.

Disclosing Pregnancy

Disclosing a pregnancy to a supervisor and co-workers should be exciting, however, this announcement can usually bring up feelings of anxiety about how others will react. We recommend disclosing a pregnancy as soon as the employee feels comfortable to do so. Earlier disclosure allows for more sufficient planning time on the part of the employee, supervisor and co-workers for an upcoming maternity leave and return back to work.

Leave and Benefits Resources

Information for a new child entering the home can be found on the University Faculty and Staff Disability Services webpage. Information available includes:

  • FMLA - Family Medical Leave Act
  • University Operations Manual
  • Usage of paid leave accruals including Family Caregiving Leave
  • Catastrophic Leave
  • Adoption Leave

Other Leave and Benefits Resources:

  • University of Iowa Benefits Office (for all UI employees)
  • UI Healthcare Leave and Disability Office (for UI Healthcare employees)

Transition Plan

Creating a transition plan to be carried out during one’s leave and return back to work should be a combined effort between the employee and his or her supervisor. It is helpful for the employee to create a list of job responsibilities and, if applicable, an idea of who can take them over while you are on leave. Other important things to consider when developing a transition plan:

  • Key dates-expected date of leave and return, potential keep in touch days, if preferred
  • How can workload be reprioritized across the team?
  • Can any activities be postponed? This is often suitable for project-based roles.

Keeping in Touch

It is important to communicate to your supervisor how you wish to be communicated with, if at all, during your leave. While taking FMLA employers cannot require an employee to work, however it is beneficial to keep in touch so your supervisor or HR representative knows when you plan on returning to work. Keeping in touch also can help create a smooth transition back after leave. Employees can request to be updated about changes at work, training opportunities and job vacancies while on leave.

Returning to Work

Flexible Work Arrangements

UI Family Services can provide consultation to employees and supervisors to help create the most effective flexible work arrangement (FWA) to meet the needs of both parties. A FWA tool-kit and other resources can be found on the Family Services website. Examples of FWA include part-time work, telecommuting, compressed work week, and job sharing.

Lactation Support and Resources

The University of Iowa follows and supports the guidelines established under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that requires employers to provide:

“reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.”

”Employers are not required under the FLSA to compensate nursing mothers for breaks taken for the purpose of expressing milk. However, where employers already provide compensated breaks, an employee who uses that break time to express milk must be compensated in the same way that other employees are compensated for break time.”

For further clarification, please review the Break Time for Nursing Mothers FAQs or contact Family Services at 319-335-1371.

Child Care Resources

UI Family Services can assist employees looking for regular and back-up child care. Please refer to the Family Services website for more information.