Caregiver/Parental Leave

Washington University recognizes that employees must balance work obligations with providing care for their families. The intent of this Caregiver/Parental leave policy is to provide eligible staff members with a dedicated paid leave to support them while meeting family obligations outside the workplace.

The policy provides full-time staff with up to four weeks of leave paid at 100% of regular base salary to care for sick family members and/or to care for or bond with children within the 12 months following birth or placement via adoption, surrogacy or foster care. Leave under this policy may not be used for an employee’s own medical condition.


Regular full‐time, benefits‐eligible staff employees (i.e., those scheduled to work at least 37.5 hours per week) are eligible to request Caregiver/Parental leave after completing 12 consecutive months of staff employment. This policy does not apply to:

  • Faculty*
  • Regular part-time staff employees
  • Temporary or non-benefits-eligible employees
  • Postdoctoral appointees** or Clinical Fellows
  • Employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement, unless the agreement specifically provides for their eligibility for this benefit.

Spouses and/or domestic partners who are both eligible employees may each take leave under this policy for the same qualifying event; managerial approval is required for both employees to be on leave at the same time.

*Faculty—See separate Faculty Parental Leave policy:

         Danforth Faculty

         WUSM Faculty

**Postdoctoral appointees—See separate Postdoctoral appointees policy.


Caregiver/Parental leave may be taken for one or more of the following events, consistent with how those events are defined under the Family and Medical Leave Act:

  • For bonding after the birth or placement with the employee of a child via adoption, surrogacy or foster care, within the 12 months following that event (Parental Leave);
  • The care of the employee’s spouse/domestic partner, child or parent with a serious health condition (Caregiver Leave);
  • The care of a spouse, child, parent, or next of kin who is a member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, and who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, is otherwise in outpatient status, or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness incurred by the service member in the line of active duty (Military Caregiver Leave);
  • A qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the spouse, child, or parent of an employee is on active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty) in the Armed Forces in support of a contingency operation (Military Exigency Leave).

Up to four weeks of leave under this policy may be taken within a rolling 12-month period. This limitation also applies when the leave is used for a combination of qualifying events and when more than a single qualifying event occurs within the 12-month period. Additional leave may be available through other benefits or policies, such as paid sick time and vacation and unpaid FMLA leave.

Leave under this policy must be taken in full week increments; however, leave does not need to begin as of the first day of the employee’s regular scheduled work week. For example, an employee who normally works Monday through Friday may request Caregiver/Parental leave starting on a Thursday and ending on a Wednesday. If a partial week is needed, sick or vacation must be used for those days (for example, if an employee requests 1.5 weeks of caregiver leave, one week of leave may be taken under this policy and the remaining half week must be taken using sick or vacation time).However, sick leave may not be used for bonding time with a newborn or newly adopted child even if the employee is eligible for FMLA.

In order to take Caregiver/Parental leave directly following STMD, the employee must be released from STMD for their own health condition prior to the start of the Caregiver/Parental leave. In addition, Caregiver/Parental leave directly following STMD maternity must be taken in full week increments and cannot be interspersed with other types of paid time off (e.g. vacation). 

Two examples:

  1. Permitted use of Caregiver/Parental leave and vacation: An employee has a baby on May 15 and after their STMD uses two weeks of Caregiver/Parental leave, then one week of vacation and then returns to work. The employee can then take their remaining two weeks of Caregiver/Parental leave at any time before the next May 15.
  2. Use of Caregiver/Parental leave and vacation that is not permitted: An employee has a baby on May 15 and after their STMD wants to use two weeks of Caregiver/Parental leave, one week of vacation and then the last two weeks of Caregiver/Parental leave without returning to work first. This combination of Caregiver/Parental leave and vacation is not permitted.

If an employee who has exhausted STMD maternity and Caregiver/Parental leave wishes to take additional leave time (e.g. vacation), such additional leave time must be approved by the employee’s supervisor.

Where leave under this policy also qualifies for leave under the FMLA, both leaves will run concurrently. Employees whose primary position is at the Medical School are limited to a total of eight weeks (two leaves) under this policy within a five-­year period, not to exceed four weeks per rolling 12-month period.


Eligible employees must notify their supervisor in writing and contact UNUM at 1-866-371-5723 from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm CST Monday – Friday at least 30 calendar days in advance of the start of the leave. If leave is not foreseeable, employees must provide as much notice as is reasonably practicable under the circumstances.

Employees applying for leave under this policy are required to submit the documentation requested by UNUM to support the request. Where the leave requested under this policy also qualifies for FMLA leave, employees are required to submit the required FMLA documentation, which may also suffice to support this policy’s documentation requirement.


Benefits eligibility continues and employees remain financially responsible for the cost of benefits while on leave.

Sick and vacation time will continue to accrue at the standard rate.

Holidays occurring during Caregiver/Parental leave will be recorded as such and do not extend the leave period or augment pay.

A non-exempt employee cannot receive any benefit pay, other than holiday pay, for a week in excess of their normal standard hours. For example: a non-exempt employee regularly scheduled to work 40 hours takes Caregiver/Parental leave starting on Wednesday and ending the following Tuesday. Prior to starting leave, the employee works one hour of overtime on Monday. The Caregiver/Parental leave hours for Wednesday through Friday will be adjusted so that the employee receives pay for 40 hours.

Eligibility for leave ceases as of the termination of employment; unused Caregiver/Parental leave days are not subject to payout.

The University reserves the right to modify this policy in whole or in part at any time.

Caregiver/Parental Leave FAQs (PDF)