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LSU promised paid family leave to all employees. Not everyone’s getting it

LSU's Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, in November 2021.
Aubry Procell
LSU's Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge in November 2021.

This story was originally published by the Louisiana Illuminator.

LSU leaders said they would provide paid family leave for all employees starting Jan. 1, but some employees who have requested it have been told the policy hasn’t been approved.

The university announced it would offer the benefit to all faculty and staff starting in 2024, following the Louisiana Civil Service Commission’s adoption of paid family leave policy for 39,000 classified employees and former Gov. John Bel Edwards’ executive order that extended the perk to some 32,000 unclassified state workers. But a month into the new year, LSU employees who thought they qualified for the benefit have been told they can’t access it.

LSU’s policy is supposed to provide up to six weeks of paid leave to a parent of any gender within three months of the birth or adoption of a child for anyone employed at the university for at least a year. It was designed to mirror the state civil service policy.

The policy was announced through an email to campus employees and by Niki Norton, LSU assistant vice president for human resource management, at a Faculty Senate meeting in November.

At the time, Norton said the policy had been worked out, and all that was needed was the final signature of LSU President William F. Tate, which she said she expected imminently.

Tate apparently hasn’t given it.

“The paid parental leave was approved for classified employees,” LSU’s Human Resource Management Office (HRM) wrote to one employee who tried to take leave. The partner of a denied employee provided the email to the Illuminator. Neither wanted to be identified. “LSU has not yet approved the paid parental leave for unclassified faculty and staff. Our office will announce any updates as they are made available.”

LSU Staff Senate President Josh Duplechain said he has heard from multiple colleagues who have been refused paid family leave.

Duplechain said he has not been given any explanation from LSU administration as to why the policy hasn’t taken effect for all employees on the promised timeline.

LSU spokesperson Todd Woodward did not respond to a list of email questions or a text message requesting comment. Spokesperson Abbi Rocha Laymoun also declined to respond to a list of email questions.

When LSU’s paid family leave policy was announced, it was touted as a major tool to keep and attract valued employees.

“It is a win for recruitment and retention for Louisiana and for LSU,” Norton told faculty senators in November.

But questions arose in late 2023 as to whether the university would retain the policy if the next governor — Jeff Landry, a Republican — decided to undo his Democratic predecessor’s work.

“I can’t speak to the unknown,” Norton said when a faculty senator brought up the concern. “I would hope that it would continue.”

Landry has said he’s undecided on whether he will keep the policy, citing the need to understand its impact on the state budget. The governor can rescind Edwards’ order for unclassified employees, but the Civil Service Commission has authority over classified employees.

Landry will present his first executive budget proposal to the Legislature Feb. 8. The Civil Service Commission has estimated the fiscal impact of extending paid family leave to classified workers will be minimal.

Former University of Louisiana System President Jim Henderson approved paid family leave for all employees at the system’s nine campuses before moving to a new job in the system, and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System Board is expected to adopt the same policy in February. Both Henderson and LCTCS President Monty Sullivan have said the fiscal impact to their systems will be minimal.

The Southern University System is studying the feasibility of paid family leave, a spokesperson said.