C.A. of St. John’s writes:
I have notified the dean of my desire to take parental leave in the coming term. The dean has approved the leave in principle, subject to my agreement to take on an extra course in the following term to make up for the teaching I will have missed. This seems wrong.
David Robinson answers:
It is wrong. A parental leave is a leave, not a deferral of work. The employer cannot penalize you by forcing you to make up for “lost time” afterwards. The right to enjoy parental leave without penalty is enshrined in provincial employment standards legislation and human rights codes, and the federal Employment Insurance Act. Language in your collective agreement should also provide you with the full benefit of parental leave without clawback. Unfortunately, the difficulty you are encountering is all too common in the academic workplace. The precise terms of parental leaves are often left up to negotiations between the employer and individual academic staff — staff who may feel pressured by peer expectations to not fully exercise their rights. This results in discrimination against people on parental leave, including the inappropriate demand you are facing to take on extra course work. My advice is for you to immediately contact your academic staff association and not agree to any arrangement that penalizes you for exercising a fundamental societal right.