Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Pregnancy and parental leave during the Tenure Track

Petition handing to minister Bussemaker and to the VSNU
In the Netherlands, there are currently no formal regulations on the effect of the time away from research during pregnancy and paternal leave. Pregnancy and paternal leave are dealt with at a case-by-case basis. When an extension of the tenure track is not granted, a new parent loses previous time. In a recent column in the Dutch newspaper, de Volkskrant, this problem was discussed. Worst case: if a post-doc gets a temporary contract of 1 year, and is away for 4 months on pregnancy leave, this person loses at least 1/3rd of precious research time. But that is not the only time a researcher loses - if you factor in the time before, during, and after of a pregnancy, more time is lost...

A pregnancy on average takes away a full year of research, if you factor in the pregnancy leave time, the resting allowance for dealing with fatigue during pregnancy under the Dutch law (1 hour per working day during the whole pregnancy), the feeding time (2 hours per working day until the baby is 9 months old), and the fact that most new parents will work 80-90% during the first year (or longer). For researchers in a lab that deals with chemical substances, where for health and security reasons pregnant women can't work, a researcher loses even more precious time. In that case, the researcher will lose almost all of the research time if she is on a one-year post-doc contract.

In other countries, such as the United States, the tenure clock for women is stopped by default for one year for every child born during the TT period. Therefore, a group of dutch academics are calling for a reform of the regulations on pregnancy and parental leave during the TT period. More information about the proposed reforms can be found on the website of the Dutch TT Reform.

With the quest for the reforms, comes a petition. The official text of the petition reads as follows:
I support the recommendations to provide tenure-trackers a standard option of extending her/his tenure track decision and contract by 12 months in the case of a mother or by the duration of parental leave in the case of a father, for each child born/adopted. It is up to the tenure-tracker to make use of this (full) extension or not, but the opportunity should be provided to all tenure-trackers equally. These recommendations are in line with current policy at the ERC and NWO.
You can sign the petition here.

Moreover, if you are working in a Dutch university and your case of pregnancy and parenting weren't handled well, you can share your stories anonymously with Wioletta Ruszel (w.m.ruszel at tudelft dot nl) for the black book. This black book will compile anonymous stories as policy makers are very sensitive to this.

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