UNC Charlotte Academic Policy: Graduate Student Parental Leave

I. Executive Summary

UNC Charlotte recognizes that graduate students lead complicated lives, which may include parenthood. This policy is designed to protect any graduate student who becomes a parent while enrolled as a student.

The policy establishes minimum protections for students, but hiring units are encouraged to work with students to allow up to six weeks of paid time off for the birth or adoption of a child.

Students who take six weeks of leave must use the time in a continuous block. This policy ensures that:

  • Students can maintain their student status/enrollment while on leave
  • Students can keep their stipend if they hold an assistantship
  • All other student benefits remain intact

II. Policy Statement

Advanced planning is important so that obligations can be met by the unit and the student. Graduate students who anticipate taking personal leave should meet with their advisors/managers as soon as possible to plan for the parental leave. When possible, advisors and students should create a plan for the student’s research activities that includes a flexible schedule during the time off. If an advisor has specific, research-related deadlines that fall during the planned leave, these should be communicated with the student and the department to ensure that they are met. When flexibility alone will not ensure that work continues, funding for a temporary replacement should be used. To be eligible for leave, students must be enrolled and employed in an assistantship.

When possible, students who anticipate taking leave should not be in teaching roles during their leave semester. Units that need a temporary replacement for the student may submit requests in writing for support grants to their college dean. This policy recognizes that supporting students is a shared responsibility. Therefore the hiring unit, along with College, will collaborate with the Graduate School to:

  1. Provide funding or staffing to ensure that units can continue the work being done by the graduate student during the leave period
  2. Enable the graduate student to take a stipend-protected parental leave of absence without losing their role or position with the program

While this policy recognizes the protections afforded to pregnant women under Title IX, the policy goes beyond the legal protections to ensure that, in cases where a parent is a UNC Charlotte graduate student, that parent has the option to take leave.

This policy does not attempt to cover every circumstance related to parental accommodations. Rather, this policy should be seen as the baseline for accommodations. Programs and units are encouraged to be flexible when accommodating students.

III. Definitions

There are currently no definitions.

IV. Policy Contact(s)

V. History

  • November 30, 2023: Revised [clarified that graduate students need to be both enrolled and employed in an assistantship to qualify for the graduate student parental leave benefit]
  • March 12, 2020: Approved by Faculty Council

VI. Related Policies, Procedures, and Resources

There are currently no related policies, procedures, or resources.

VII. Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where is this policy referenced?
    The policy is published on the Academic Policies & Procedures webpage of the Provost website.
  • Which students are covered under this policy?
    This policy applies to all graduate students at UNC Charlotte.