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Family Leave Policies for Astronomers AAS 209th Meeting, Seattle, WA CSWA Special Session January 7, 2007 Hannah Jang-Condell Carnegie Institution of Washington.

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Presentation on theme: "Family Leave Policies for Astronomers AAS 209th Meeting, Seattle, WA CSWA Special Session January 7, 2007 Hannah Jang-Condell Carnegie Institution of Washington."— Presentation transcript:

1 Family Leave Policies for Astronomers AAS 209th Meeting, Seattle, WA CSWA Special Session January 7, 2007 Hannah Jang-Condell Carnegie Institution of Washington

2 Motivation Jang-Condell et al., 2004

3 Some National Policies Sweden: 390 days paid leave, shared between parents Sweden: 390 days paid leave, shared between parents Canada: 15 weeks for birth mothers, plus 35 weeks paid parental leave - up to 50 weeks total Canada: 15 weeks for birth mothers, plus 35 weeks paid parental leave - up to 50 weeks total The US and Australia are the only industrialized countries without paid maternity leave The US and Australia are the only industrialized countries without paid maternity leave

4 US: FMLA Family and Medical Leave Act Family and Medical Leave Act 12 weeks, unpaid 12 weeks, unpaid Only applies to companies employing >50 Only applies to companies employing >50 Employed for the previous 12 months Employed for the previous 12 months At least 1,250 hours during those 12 months (24 hrs/wk) At least 1,250 hours during those 12 months (24 hrs/wk) (Australia has 52 weeks unpaid leave) (Australia has 52 weeks unpaid leave)

5 Parental Leave for Astronomers Graduate students Graduate students Are they employees? Full time or part time? Are they employees? Full time or part time? Postdocs Postdocs Employees? Contractors? None of the above? Employees? Contractors? None of the above? Dependent source of funding? What about outside fellowships (e.g. Hubble, NSF, etc.)? Dependent source of funding? What about outside fellowships (e.g. Hubble, NSF, etc.)? Faculty Faculty Does the tenure clock stop? Is this automatic? Does the tenure clock stop? Is this automatic?

6 CSWP Female-Friendly Departments Survey Maternity leave Maternity leave 42 have plans (includes FMLA) 42 have plans (includes FMLA) 19 covered under general leave of absences 19 covered under general leave of absences 70 have no plan/case-by-case basis/informal arrangements 70 have no plan/case-by-case basis/informal arrangements Family Health Benefits Family Health Benefits 13 fully covered 13 fully covered 105 plan is available, but costs extra 105 plan is available, but costs extra 13 no plan available 13 no plan available (131 responses -

7 Caveats Informal arrangements can work out very well, sometimes better than FMLA. However, depends on having a supportive advisor Informal arrangements can work out very well, sometimes better than FMLA. However, depends on having a supportive advisor Even if a university has a policy in place, the department implements it and has ultimate power Even if a university has a policy in place, the department implements it and has ultimate power

8 Recommendations Grad students: add 1 year to thesis clock Grad students: add 1 year to thesis clock Postdocs: extend term commensurate with leave Postdocs: extend term commensurate with leave Faculty: add 1 year to tenure clock Faculty: add 1 year to tenure clock Maintain health benefits during leave Maintain health benefits during leave

9 Time and Money Career gap - risk of falling behind your peers Career gap - risk of falling behind your peers Unpaid leave not necessarily affordable, especially if dependents don’t get health coverage Unpaid leave not necessarily affordable, especially if dependents don’t get health coverage Financial - who pays for leave? Gov’t? Univ? grant agencies? Financial - who pays for leave? Gov’t? Univ? grant agencies?

10 Problems for Postdocs Taking even 3 months off during a 3-year postdoc can be detrimental Taking even 3 months off during a 3-year postdoc can be detrimental Even if you extend the term, that puts you off-cycle: many jobs have fall start dates Even if you extend the term, that puts you off-cycle: many jobs have fall start dates Often aren’t considered employees so FMLA does not apply Often aren’t considered employees so FMLA does not apply

11 Hubble Fellowship 2007 Guidelines “Eligibility Applicants must have received a Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral-level research degree in astronomy, physics, or a related discipline on or after January 1, 2004.” “Commencement of the Hubble Fellowship The Hubble Fellowship should generally begin on September 1, 2007, but other starting dates may, in individual cases, be jointly negotiated with the Fellow, the Host Institution, and the STScI Hubble Fellowship Program Office. All Fellowships must in any case commence by the end of 2007.”

12 Recommendations Prize Fellowships (e.g. Hubble, Spitzer, and Chandra) should develop family leave policies Prize Fellowships (e.g. Hubble, Spitzer, and Chandra) should develop family leave policies Universities should ensure that all researchers at their institutions have family leave policies, regardless of their funding source Universities should ensure that all researchers at their institutions have family leave policies, regardless of their funding source Leave policies should be publicly available Leave policies should be publicly available Establish grant programs (NSF, NASA, AAS) to fund family leave Establish grant programs (NSF, NASA, AAS) to fund family leave

13 Faculty Some women view taking maternity leave as a sign of weakness and don’t take it, thereby hurting themselves and their families Some women view taking maternity leave as a sign of weakness and don’t take it, thereby hurting themselves and their families Make extensions to the tenure clock automatic rather than by petition Make extensions to the tenure clock automatic rather than by petition

14 Other Important Issues Health benefits - coverage for spouse and dependents Health benefits - coverage for spouse and dependents Childcare Childcare


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