UW–Madison unions call for paid family leave across faculty, staff, graduate students 

Four UW–Madison labor unions, representing faculty, staff, and graduate workers, have called on administrators to include 12 weeks of paid family leave for graduate students and employees in the university’s next budget, the Capital Times reports.

Last month, the GOP-led Joint Finance Committee cut from the state biennial budget Gov. Tony Evers’ proposal of giving 12 weeks of paid family leave to public and private sector employees, which would have included UW System workers.

Benefit expansion efforts at UW–Madison have been ongoing since as early as 2013. A 2018 study from the University of Colorado Boulder analyzed over 200 U.S. and Canadian universities’ parental leave policies and found that around 60% have paid parental leave. Among these were most universities in the Big 10 but not UW–Madison or other UW System schools.

Additionally, an ad hoc committee — assigned in 2016 by then-Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf to make recommendations for family leave based on the policies of 10 peer universities with similar enrollment — published a report last year that found nine of those peer schools offer their faculty and staff fully-paid parental leave for at least six weeks.

Within UW–Madison, some departments offer paid family leave for graduate student workers, but not faculty or staff. At least four colleges and departments offer their own paid leave policies that support parents and women earning advanced degrees. The unions intend those benefits to extend soon to the entire campus.