Archdiocesan parental bonding policy is pro-family
Beginning in January, the archdiocese will have a new parental bonding
policy for its employees in parishes, schools and other affiliated ministries. The policy will grant parents six weeks of paid leave after the birth of their child. The policy also applies to parents who adopt a child or who become foster parents. Can you explain what discussions went into the new policy?
Several teachers in our schools have approached me over the years with their concerns. They told me they love teaching in Catholic schools – they believe their teaching is a ministry – and they also love their own children and their family life. But they felt a conflict or tension between the two. One teacher told me at a town hall meeting for the synod: “I can’t afford to have another baby because of what it does to my income.” She was welling up with emotion, and that pierced my heart because we are committed both to Catholic education and to our pro-life values.
What does the parental bonding policy call for?
The policy will grant six weeks of paid leave to a parent for the birth of his or her child. This also applies to parents who adopt a child or become foster parents. The employee will not have to use any accrued sick leave or vacation time during that six-week period. This is a major improvement in benefits over what we have in place for staff members right now, and I know it is the right thing to do. This is our way of saying that we believe in family life and we believe in ministry. We support young, married couples in their participating in the ministry of the church, whether that’s in our schools or in some other ministry of the church.
This may have an impact on budgets, correct?
It may. For example, it might affect a school in any one year if several teachers become pregnant at the same time. If
the school’s budget can’t afford it, we will find the funds to assist them, if necessary.
Why does the policy include fathers?
We believe the best way to promote healthy families is to support the work of a dedicated mother and father. The father should be able to spend quality time with his child after birth and also be a help and support to his wife as she makes a transition into her regular routine. Some people might contend it’s the mother’s responsibility, but I don’t believe that’s accurate today. A baby craves a father figure and needs that special affection that a father can give. It’s also a very important time for a couple to bond with their new child – to feel that nurturing from both mom and dad. I hope this also gives the couple the time to grow in their faith, to give a special blessing to their child and to prepare for their child’s baptism.
What kind of response have you received from people about the new policy?
We’ve gotten a very positive response, especially from the staffs of our Catholic schools and from our other ministries. We realize this is very new and there may be some unexpected challenges, but we’ll face those as they arise. Some principals have expressed concern about the financial impact, but we will do everything we can to make this a viable plan to promote family life, to promote procreation and to promote the very essence of marriage between a man and a woman.