April 27, 2007

elevate: Answering the Tough Questions

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Medical Center leadership answers the tough questions about what the elevate program is and what it means for the people who work at VUMC.

Question: Why does Vanderbilt not provide paid maternity leave to staff? It seems that faculty often receive this benefit.

Answer: Across the United States, paid maternity leave is the rarest of employee benefits.

While a few states have recently set up publicly funded short-term disability programs that serve to cover part of a woman's salary for up to six or eight weeks of maternity leave, most women use a combination of sick leave, vacation and privately funded short-term disability insurance.

Of course, any Vanderbilt staff member who has accrued adequate sick time or vacation is entitled to take her maternity leave at full pay. Those without such accrued time should consider short-term disability insurance.

Vanderbilt makes short-term disability insurance available on an optional, employee-funded basis. Our group plan from The Hartford provides excellent value for those of our employees who choose to participate.

At Vanderbilt, as at other colleges and universities, maternity leave for faculty is treated differently because faculty work under contract. It's absolutely standard for such contracts to grant continuation of salary in the event of illness or disability. That's how faculty across the country receive paid maternity leave.

Providing paid maternity leave for staff would involve unsupportable new costs for our institution. And due to the considerable expense, funding short-term disability coverage for Vanderbilt employees is likewise ruled out.

— Kevin Myatt, chief human resource officer