Rice announces new staff paid parental leave and updated short-term disability policies

The new Department of Transnational Asian Studies will be housed on the fifth floor of Lovett Hall. (Photo by Brandon Martin)

The following message was sent to the Rice community in an email June 21:

Dear colleagues,

Upon recommendations from the University Committee on Faculty and Staff Benefits and the President's Parental Leave Working Group, we are pleased to announce that the campus has approved a new staff Paid Parental Leave policy and an updated Short-Term Disability policy. Both policies will go into effect on July 1, 2023.

The staff Paid Parental Leave policy , effective July 1, 2023, will allow staff to have paid time away from work to help them transition to the addition of their new family member. The policy will allow both parents to take up to six (6) weeks of 100% paid leave after a child's birth, adoption, or foster placement. Some key features of the policy include:

  1. Allowing anyone who had a qualifying birth or adoption on or after April 1, 2023, to use the policy on or after July 1, 2023, per the limits of the policy.
  2. Allowing for flexibility in the timing of the leave within one (1) year of the event. This flexibility will allow parents who both work at Rice an opportunity to use their leave time in a manner that best suits them.
  3. The policy can be taken after the birthing parent's approved short-term disability leave for a total leave of 12-14 weeks, depending on the duration of the uncomplicated birth of the child(ren).
  4. The policy will run concurrently with the Federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave, protecting the staff member's job while on leave, should they qualify for FMLA.

Tenure or tenure-track faculty currently have Primary Caregiver Leave (see Policy 204 ), and non-tenure-track faculty are also provided with Primary Caregiver Leave (see Policy 205 ).

Eligible staff will soon be able to initiate their Paid Parental Leave requests via iO . Please see the Paid Parental Leave information in the Benefits area of the KnOWLedge Café for additional information on this new benefit for staff.

The Short-Term Disability Policy 423 is modified with the following changes effective July 1, 2023:

  1. Lowering the waiting period for newly hired employees from one (1) year to six (6) months.
  2. Increasing the payable benefits from 80% to 100% of base salary for the first eight (8) weeks of an approved short-term disability leave (the first eight weeks include the waiting period for staff). The payable benefits from week nine (9) onward for an approved leave will remain at 80% of the base salary.

These changes were made to align with the new Policy 430 for staff Paid Parental Leave. This will allow birthing parents to have 12-14 weeks of paid leave at 100% of pay with the birth of a child and an approved short-term disability claim. The short-term disability policy typically covers six (6) weeks for an uncomplicated vaginal birth and eight (8) weeks for an uncomplicated C-section delivery. Fathers can use the Paid Parental Leave for six (6) weeks of 100% pay and can time it during or after the mother's disability leave from their employer.

Employees who meet the new waiting period effective July 1 will become eligible for the short-term disability benefits as of that date. Anyone on approved leave still in the first eight (8) weeks of their leave will be eligible for the higher benefit amount as of July 1. If you have any questions or concerns about either of these policies, please email benefits@rice.edu or call the benefits hotline at (713) 348-BENE (2363).

Thank you to those who contributed to this effort. Implementing a paid parental leave policy and updating the short-term benefits policy is one way Rice is able to demonstrate its commitment to acknowledging the significance of work-life balance and the holistic welfare of employees.


Kelly Fox, Vice President of Finance and Administration

Joan Nelson, Associate Vice President Human Resources, CHRO