Childbirth Accommodation and Parental Leave: Student FAQ

Who is eligible for Parental Leave (PL)?

Currently, graduate students who give birth (“birth parents”) are eligible for up to two months of Childbirth Accommodation (CBA). MIT will expand the policy to include Parental Leave (PL) so that all parents who have significant responsibilities for a child born to them on or after September 1, 2018, or have a child newly placed with them through surrogacy, adoption, foster care, or court order on or after that date, will be eligible for one month of leave. This leave will be a paid leave for those currently supported by a RA, TA, or fellowship. For birth parents eligible for CBA, the new PL policy will bring their total potential leave duration to three months.

What if my child is born before Parental Leave goes into effect on September 1, 2018?

You may request a Parental Leave that begins after the policy’s start date and is completed within six months of becoming a parent. For example, if your child is born on June 1, 2018, you may request that your one-month leave take place any time between September 1, 2018, and November 30, 2018.

When can I take Parental Leave if I adopt a child on October 15, 2018?

You must complete your leave within the first six months of becoming a parent. Therefore, provided you meet all eligibility criteria, you may start your leave anytime between October 15, 2018 and March 15, 2019, so that the leave is completed by April 14, 2019.

Will I be paid while on PL?

During the approved period of leave, students supported by an RA or TA appointment will continue to receive the benefits of their academic appointment (tuition, stipend, and health insurance if applicable). Students supported by fellowship funding will continue to receive the benefits of their fellowship (tuition, stipend, and/or health insurance). Students who are self-funded are not eligible for tuition or stipend funding under these leaves, but will still be eligible for leave from their academic and research obligations. See the “Funding” sections in the policy for details.

How do I apply for PL and who approves my application?

You must initiate conversations to plan for the leave period (see “Anticipating the Leave Period” in the policy), then complete and review the Parental Leave and Childbirth Accommodation Request Form with the graduate administrator in your home academic department. Once reviewed by the department, you should submit the Request Form with appropriate documentation to the Office of Graduate Education, which grants final approval. See “Approval” in the policy for details.

Does my eligibility for PL expire at any point?

As long as you are a full-time graduate student at MIT, you may apply for a Parental Leave if you have a newborn child or a child newly placed with you through surrogacy, adoption, foster care, or court order. There is no limit to the number of times you may apply for a PL while you are a graduate student; however, full financial support will only extend to one month in any six-month period.  See the “Funding” sections in the policy for details.

May I remain in MIT housing after I become a parent?

Yes, students residing on campus and approved for Childbirth Accommodation and/or Parental Leave may remain in campus housing provided that appropriate rent and fees have been paid for the period.  If you reside in a single (e.g. Sidney Pacific), you should contact the Associate Director, Housing Assignments in MIT Housing and Residential Services, in the 12th week of your pregnancy, to make arrangements to transition into family housing.   The transition will likely not occur until 8 weeks prior to the arrival of the child.

What are some scenarios where PL and CBA can be combined?

Scenario A: Tori and Chris (single birth)

Birth parent Tori and non-birth parent Chris are both graduate students at MIT. Their baby is due on January 1. Tori has an RA; Chris has a TA. Here is one way that they could arrange their leaves:

January February March April May June
Tori CBA (paid from CBA Fund) Tori CBA (paid from CBA Fund) Tori PL (paid by School or Department)
Chris PL (paid by School or Department)

 

They could also do this:

January  February March April May June
Tori CBA (paid from CBA Fund) Tori CBA (paid from CBA Fund) Tori PL (paid by School or Department)
Chris PL (paid by School or Department)

Scenario B: Addison (multiple birth)

Birth parent Addison is due on September 1, expecting twins, and as allowed by the policy has requested one month of leave for each child. Addison is supported by an RA and has decided to take the first three months consecutively, then return to help the lab wrap up the semester, and then take additional time with the babies over IAP. In this case, Addison’s leaves will look like this:

September October November December January February
Addison CBA (paid from CBA Fund) Addison CBA (paid from CBA Fund) Addison PL (paid by School or Department) Addison PL (no stipend)

I am feeling nervous about discussing a leave with my advisor. What if they think I’m not committed to completing my degree?

Remember that taking some time to care for your child and adjust to parenthood (whether for the first time, or again) is now a benefit for every grad student. If you are nervous bringing this up with your advisor, it’s a good idea to make your graduate administrator the first stop. Your grad admin can help you think through all the implications of your leave. Then, when you speak with your advisor, keep the conversation about the work. What can you plan to wrap up before you go? How will you hand off any critical pieces to those who will be covering while you are out? Will you need any modifications to previous work plans once you return? It is recommended that you create a bit of “breathing room” in your projected deadlines, as caring for a newborn or young child will be demanding.

Now that I’m pregnant, I’m worried about exposing my baby to unsafe conditions in the lab. Where can I go?

Each department has an Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Coordinator who can help you think through the implications of your work environment on the physical health and safety of you and your baby. You may also request a formal evaluation of your work environment through your departmental coordinator or through EHS Senior Officer Bob Edwards, redwards@mit.edu.

I am overwhelmed by all the financial and other changes in my life. Where can I get help?

Don’t worry! MIT has a lot of resources for graduate student families that can help with a variety of issues including housing, childcare referrals, subsidized backup child care, and connecting with other families.

There is also a lot of financial literacy information available to you. The Office of Graduate Education runs a series of financial workshops each semester. Extensive budgeting and other financial literacy information is available to you via with MIT’s iGrad portal. Enter and set up your own free account, available for all MIT faculty, staff, students, spouses, and partners.

I’m a bit confused about my options with CBA and PL. Who can I talk to?

If you need help understanding the full policy, you can contact your department’s graduate administrator or the Office of Graduate Education at grad-ed@mit.edu with any questions.