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How do leave and insurance work when adopting a baby?

Q: My wife and I teach in the same Virginia school division. We are adopting a baby. Can we each take leave? Does the summer recess count as leave? Will we get paid? Will we still have group insurance if we are not paid? Can we use sick leave? What if our baby has medical problems?

A: What a wonderful reason for asking lots of questions. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act gives covered employees rights to up to twelve weeks leave for: the birth and care of a newborn child; for placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care; to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition. The Act applies to all local education agencies (public schools). If you taught full-time last year you meet the requirement to work 1250 hours last year for eligibility.
You, your wife, or both can take leave for the adoption. But you must share twelve weeks of leave taken for birth, adoption, or to care for your parent because you work for the same school division. Spouses working for the same employer do not have to share leave for their own serious health condition or to care for a child with a serious health condition. A serious health condition requires inpatient care or continuous treatment by healthcare professionals.
The summer vacation does not count against a teacher's Family and Medical Leave entitlement.

Generally Family and Medical Leave is UNPAID. Your employer is required to continue contributions for group health insurance coverage even though you are not being paid. You will have to pay your share of the premium to maintain coverage.

The Act allows paid leave to be substituted for unpaid leave or counted toward your leave entitlement. However your local school division may not allow sick leave to be used for "child care" rather than for illness of the employee or family member.

Your Uniserv Director can help you review local policies and communicate with school administrators. Congratulations and best wishes.


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