Use of paid parental leave, which Staff Council championed, has increased dramatically


Use of paid parental leave by new parents has doubled in its second year of availability — from 67 in 2017 to 140 in 2018 — Vice Chancellor of Human Resources Cheryl Johnson told Staff Council’s Jan. 16 meeting.

Those taking advantage of the program last year — which allows 20 consecutive paid work days to be taken off during the year following the birth, adoption or foster-care placement of a child — were 36 percent men, up from 27 percent in 2017.  A quarter of those who used the benefit in 2018 were Gen X members, while the remainder were millennials.

“Boomers are raising grandchildren now,” Johnson added, “so we believe there is a great opportunity with this program” for them to participate, should they officially adopt or foster their grandchildren.

She also credited Staff Council, which helped devise and pushed for passage of Pitt’s parental leave policy, with inspiring a similar successful effort to secure the benefit for UPMC staffers recently, and a current drive for paid parental leave among Carnegie Mellon University staff members.

One surprise, Johnson said, was that employee attrition following the arrival of a new child, which had fallen to 7 percent in 2017 — half the normal rate — rose again to 15 percent last year. Johnson had credited the paid parental leave policy for influencing such staff to remain at the University, and said her office was examining possible causes for this rise in attrition rates among these employees.

Asked about the possibility of expanding parental leave to include paid leave for staff members to take care of parents, Johnson said her office would be happy to analyze its feasibility, but that “with all of this comes cost.” She noted that her office is currently studying a Staff Council proposal to allow Pitt employees to take paid time off for select volunteer activities.

Offering a “snapshot of the workforce” as of Dec. 31, 2018, Johnson said there were 8,012 staff members at Pitt, including executive staff and union members (the latter of whom constitute 10.3 percent of University employees). Sixty-one percent of staff members are female and 39 percent male, with 9 percent black, 6.5 percent Asian and 1.7 percent Latino.

Marty Levine is a writer for the University Times. Reach him at or 412-758-4859.