University of Minnesota employees seek paternal leave equity

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - University of Minnesota employees are pushing to make the institution's parental leave policy more inclusive.

University policy gives women who give birth six weeks of paid paternal leave, while fathers and adoptive parents only receive two weeks.

"The language is currently gendered," Lauren Mitchell, president of the Council of Graduate Students, told the Minnesota Daily reported . "Not everyone that gives birth identifies as a female."

The University Professional and Administrative Senate passed a resolution in the spring calling for all parents to receive six weeks of paid leave.

The resolution was created in part as a response to concerns about providing sufficient pay to adoptive parents.

"Adoptive parents should have the same leave as birth parents," said Randy Croce, a member of the Social Concerns Committee. "It takes time to travel, complete the adoption process and help the child acclimate to their new environment."

Ian Ringgenberg, the professional and administrative senate's chair-elect, spent the semester encouraging others to adopt the resolution. He plans to present it to the Social Concerns Committee in early December. The resolution will likely be presented to the University Senate in the spring.

"Through university governance, we can't write policy, but we can ask and organize," Ringgenberg said. "We have gotten a lot of support already."

Some employees said a culture change is needed in addition to the policy change.

"While policy may say that a mother can take six weeks off, many women don't feel they can take it because they can't find someone to cover the workload," said Michael Kyba, a member of the Senate Research Committee.

"I would like to see an acknowledgement in the ability of families to spend time together and really supporting people in having families," Ringgenberg said.