Starting in March 2019, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington will offer paid parental leave to eligible employees.

Previously, the diocese provided up to 12 weeks of parental leave to eligible employees under the Family Medical Leave Act and the Vermont Parental and Family Leave Act. In order to further assist and support new parents with balancing work and family life, the new policy will also provide paid parental leave to eligible employees who have given birth to a child, are married to a woman who has given birth to a child or have adopted a child who is 4 years old or younger.

Full-time eligible employees who have been employed for at least six months may take up to 12 weeks of parental leave for a birth or adoption. For those who have been employed for at least one year, six of those weeks shall be compensated at 100 percent of the employee’s regular, straight weekly pay and an additional six weeks of unpaid leave is available under this policy. For those who have been employed for at least six months, three of those weeks shall be compensated at 100 percent of the employee’s regular, straight weekly pay and an additional nine weeks of unpaid leave is available under this policy. All parental leave described in this policy shall be available for a 12-month period following the birth or adoption of a child.

Paid leave such as this is not required under federal or state law.

“There are several reasons why this policy is being adopted at this time,” explained Mary Foster, director of human resources for the diocese. “The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington is pro-life and pro-family. Even though the United States lags behind in offering paid parental leave, the diocese wants to be a part of the increasing trend in offering both mothers and fathers this type of supportive leave,” she said.

The purpose of the paid parental leave policy is to give parents additional flexibility and time to bond with their new child and adjust to their new family situation. Flexibility and family-friendly policies are essential to cultivating an atmosphere where employees can thrive professionally without sacrificing essential family obligations.

“For us, it’s a win-win situation,” said Foster. “An employee receives additional support to spend quality time bonding with their new baby without the financial strain of unpaid leave; and for the employer, we are helping to fulfill our pro-life mission and hoping to retain good employees at the same time.”

“Welcoming children into a family is a joyous occasion,” said Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne. “Offering paid parental leave is the first of several practices the diocese is considering to ensure that employees feel supported in their roles as parents and valued in their positions at work. It is one way we can help to build a culture of life.”

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