Paternity Leave: Which University’s Rules Apply to Fellows?

by jano klimas

The small house at the end of the road was called The End of the Road. Later, they called it Brighton. The Brighton House was where Vancouver started in 1863. In 2014, I came to Vancouver with a pregnant wife and a Marie Sklodowska Curie Fellowship (Co-funded by the Irish Research Council).

 

Several weeks before my wife was due, I asked the human resources department at my sending university that which rules apply to my paternity leave – the Irish or the Canadian. All I wanted to know was how many days I could stay at home with my wife after the birth.

Having no response from my sending university’s HR department, I asked the Co-fund agency; they wanted to see the research agreement.Oops, I was in trouble. My research agreement was long overdue, despite my frantic emails and phone calls to the college.

When nothing seemed to work, I asked my hosting university’s HR coordinator who said that I wasn’t on her payroll. Therefore, she couldn’t answer my query. So, I went to the payroll person who refused to answer and sent me back to ask my HR coordinator. In the meantime, the coordinator changed. The new HR coordinator just repeated that the payroll department should answer my query.

The Co-fund agency had a look at my unsigned research agreement; no mention of paternity leave. When they replied, it was too late; I was already at home with my wife and our 3-day-old son. Their reply was to ask my sending university’s HR department. HR hasn’t replied yet…

Being sent from “Billy to Jack”, I decided to do my own mini-poll among friends and colleagues – men who had kids. Their responses were as follows: a 31-year-old car salesman stayed at home for two days plus the weekend. A Dutch chemistry postdoc stayed for four days, after which he felt his wife could cope. A research-nurse coordinator in his mid-fifties took 2 months off with his first child; he could afford it. His second child got a week with him. Finally, a 35-year-old interviewer took one week and his boss allowed him another week when he showed up at work exhausted. In conclusion, my findings indicated that a week away from work was the average time that men stayed at home after the birth. Still, the return back to work could be rather shaky. Prepare well in advance.