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Welcome, Baby Vol: The New Parent Experience

By Julie Roe, Management Specialist

Fresh out of high school, I stepped onto UT’s campus eager to continue my education and earn a college degree, but what I really got was a whole lot more. I quickly adjusted to my new academic life, found a student assistant position with the university, and was welcomed by a diverse campus community. Fourteen years and two degrees later, I can proudly say I’ve received a valuable education, made some lifelong friends, and even met my husband, Brian.

So now, after all that, I face a new chapter in my life—being a first-time parent. My husband and I are both UT alumni so we were thrilled to welcome a new baby Vol in May 2016. Having met while we were both working for UT Human Resources in the Conference Center Building on Henley Street, we chose to name our daughter Henley. That street and this campus hold a special place in our hearts, so Henley was the natural choice for us. Plus we just adore the name.

As an employee, I used several benefits in my new parent experience. The State of Tennessee provides up to four months of leave for pregnancy, childbirth, and adoption for full-time employees who have been employed at least 12 consecutive months. (In the case of an adoption, leave begins at the time the parents receive custody of the child.) This leave runs concurrently with the 12 weeks provided by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

The leave begins with paid leave—using up, in order, any unused compensatory time, sick leave, annual leave, and personal leave. (However, an employee may opt to retain up to five days or 40 hours of sick leave, whichever is less.) If these forms of paid leave do not cover the entire four months, the rest can be taken as an unpaid leave of absence. The university will continue to pay the employer portion of the employee’s health insurance throughout the leave, and the employee remains responsible for the monthly employee portion.

Using these benefits, I was able to take several weeks of protected paid leave. And with the permission of my department and HR approval, I was able to transition back to the workplace part-time, making my parental leave experience as seamless as possible.

UT Policy HR0338 Family and Medical Leave provides more information about parental leave at UT. To learn more about leave accruals, read Policy HR0305 Annual Leave and Policy HR0380 Sick Leave on the Human Resources Policy website.

Other helpful resources include the Social Work Office of Research and Public Service’s East Child Care Resource and Referral Center. This is a great resource for families who are not sure where to begin in the search for local day care services. One quick phone call and I had access to an abundance of information about local day cares and general child care.

Lastly, I was thrilled to learn about lactation rooms available across campus. These come in handy when I travel for meetings, and yes, even take classes. To see a full list of current lactation rooms across campus, visit the Facilties Services website’s Family Restrooms and Wellness/Lactation Rooms listings and select the Wellness/Lactation Rooms tab.