Maternity & Parenting Leave for Officers of Research

Existing Columbia University Policy

(as of 12/1/06)

Full- and part-time officers of research are entitled to leaves of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 if they have been employed and paid by the University for at least twelve months immediately preceding the leave and have worked for at least 1,250 hours during that period.

Individuals who are considering Maternity Leave or Parenting Leave should talk with their Division Administrator and the Human Resources Department as far in advance as possible.   They will give you information specific to your circumstances and will help you plan for the needs of your family.



The following definitions apply to the policies described below:


  • Maternity Leave – a short paid medical disability leave related to the birth of a child.
  • Parenting Leave – 12 month paid or unpaid leave of absence available to Officers of Research after the birth or adoption of a child.  
  • Family Leave – Longer term part-time appointment during which the individual is caring for a member of their family.
  • Officers of Research – include Doherty Research Scientists, Research Scientists, Staff Associates and Postdoctoral Research Fellows and Postdoctoral Research Scientists.   Graduate students are not Officers of Research.


Maternity Leave Policy for Officers of Research

  • Officers of Research are entitled to maternity leave of absence associated with the birth of a child (as authorized by their doctor.)  
  • Standard maternity leaves are 6 weeks for a vaginal birth and 8 weeks for a surgical birth.
  • LDEO pays for up to 8 weeks of maternity leave for Doherty research staff.   Maternity leave for non-Doherty Officers of Research are currently paid from the grants or other funding source that normally supports the individual's salary.
  • The individual's existing benefits package, which may include medical, dental, life, and long-term disability insurance, remains in effect during maternity leave.


Parenting Leave Policy for Officers of Research

  • Once maternity leave ends, mothers of newborns may elect to take leave without pay or work part time with partial pay to take care of their child.   This type of leave is also available to parents who adopt a child.
  • Male officers of research holding full-time appointments may also take leaves without salary or with partial salary for up to twelve months to care for a newborn child.   Similar privileges are given to all full-time research officers who are primarily responsible for the care of a newly-adopted child of less than school age or if the child is disabled or meets New York State 's legal definition of "hard-to-place," less than 18 at the time the leave begins.
  • Same sex domestic partners of women who give birth or who adopt a child are eligible for parenting leave of up to 12 months.
  • The total period of maternity and parenting leave normally may not exceed 12 months.


Benefits Available to Full Time Officers of Research During Parenting Leaves of Absence

  • Officers of Research taking a parenting leave can choose to continue or to discontinue their existing benefits package, which may include medical, dental, life, and long-term disability insurance.
  • Paid Leaves : If an individual works part time and receives a partial salary they are on a paid leave.   In these cases, health insurance coverage continues at the same cost to the employee.   The premiums continue to be deducted from the individual's paycheck.   If individuals receive a salary that is not sufficient to cover the premiums, the individual will be billed by Employee Benefit Plan Administration, Inc. (EBPA.) the company Columbia designates to handle the billing and payment process for people on leave.
  • Unpaid Leaves:   If an individual does not work and receives no salary they are on an unpaid leave. When this happens the individual may choose to continue medical coverage.  Normally, the full cost of health insurance is split between Columbia and employees, with the University paying the greater share of monthly premiums. During an unpaid leave, the individual pays their normal share for up to six months.  Beginning with the seventh month of an unpaid leave of absence, the employee will be charged the full premium amount.

See Benefits in Brief for current year rates (.pdf file)

Family Leave of Absence

  • If a Research Scientist chooses to work part time to care for a member of their family they will be appointed to a modified adjunct title.
  • Adjuncts are not eligible for benefits.

LDEO leadership is developing a policy on Family Leave of Absence for Officers of Research to improve on the existing adjunct option.   The goal is to seek the Provost's approval of the policy some time in 2007.