UMass Amherst has a wealth of resources for faculty, as well as very progressive family-friendly policies. In addition to a commitment to diversity and self-care, the University offers high quality day care, a generous sick leave bank, paid parental leave and postponement of the Tenure Decision Year for new parents, and a variety of ways of accommodating the needs of dual-career couples.
The following are some questions that new faculty frequently ask when they arrive on campus.
Click the question to view the information.
What are my health care options?
As a faculty member, you have a choice of several HMO and PPO insurance plan options. You will learn about these plans at the Human Resources New Employee Information Program, which you will attend shortly after beginning your employment with UMass Amherst. Human Resources also offers a brief outline of benefits online, which you may wish to consult prior to attending the orientation program.
On-campus medical care is offered through:
- University Health Services, which serves UMass Amherst students, faculty and staff, along with their spouses, domestic partners and dependents.
The major hospitals and medical centers in the region include:
What resources are available to help new faculty subsidize their health care before GIC insurance takes effect?
The Health Insurance Gap Reimbursement Program helps new unit faculty with the cost of COBRA or other medical insurance coverage during their first two months of employment before GIC insurance takes effect. For application instructions, see the Provostâ€™s Office website or find the form directly here.
What if I have questions about my benefits (e.g., health insurance)?
New incoming faculty with questions about their benefits are encouraged to contact one of the benefits specialists listed below in the Human Resources Office.
- Kelly Pleasant, Benefits Supervisor, 413-545-1478,
- Beth Ives, Insurance Specialist, 413-545-6115,
What is the sick leave policy? What is the “Sick Bank”?
Faculty accrue sick days on a bi-weekly basis for a total of 12 days per year to a maximum of 120 days or 960 hours. Faculty members may also participate in the Sick Leave Bank by donating one day of personal sick leave. Effective one month after their initial appointments, faculty members automatically become members of a Sick Leave Bank, and one day of their personal sick leave is assigned to the bank in return. Faculty members may choose not to participate in the Sick Leave Bank by completing a form for this purpose in the Human Resources Office. After exhausting personal sick leave, a faculty member may apply to draw upon the Sick Leave Bank.
What resources are available to help manage work or family problems?
The Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (“FSAP”) is a confidential resource to help you resolve problems or stresses that might affect your personal, work, or family life. FSAP staff members are licensed professionals who offer assessment, counseling, and referrals to all faculty, staff, and their immediate family free of charge.
Are there any regular gatherings/events for faculty parents?
Yes. Campus and Amherst Family Center families are welcome to attend a series of roundtable discussion dinners hosted by the Office of Family Resources.
What resources are available for dual-career couples?
UMass Amherst is part of the Academic Career Network (â€śACNâ€ť), a regional consortium formed to serve dual-career couples and support greater diversity in the academy. ACN provides resources, information and contacts that assist faculty partners and spouses with finding jobs nearby -- including a listserv and an online map of neighboring institutions with links to employment opportunities.
The ACN also supports a listserv to share information about partners and spouses seeking jobs. For further information, please contact .
What are my child care options?
UMass Amherst has partnered with Care.com BackupCare (formerly Parents in a Pinch), which helps connect employees with qualified, vetted caregivers when there is a gap in a familyâ€™s regular childcare or adult care routine. Caregivers are available day and night, seven days a week: for overtime needs, on weekends, during Monday holidays and vacations. Caregivers are also available when a child or adult is ill, or overnight during a business trip. For more information about the back-up care service, please see here or contact Human Resources.
In addition, the Center for Early Education and Care (“CEEC”) is a department of the University under Student Affairs that has served the University community for over three decades. CEEC offers full-day and flexible-schedule services for toddlers and pre-school aged children (ages 15 months through five years) throughout the year. The program is licensed by the state and accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (“NAEYC”). Children at CEEC receive an educational program based on energy, attention, and dedication developmentally appropriate practices as delineated by NAEYC and benefit from the of the professionally trained Supervising Teachers and Teachers with assistance from undergraduate Assistant Teachers, interns, and volunteers.
In addition, the state Department of Early Education and Care ("EEC") maintains a listing of all of the licensed center based and family child care services in the area.
What caregiving support is available to new tenure-track faculty?
The Childcare Assistance Program helps new tenure-track faculty with childcare expenses in the first three years of employment at UMass. For eligibility requirements and application instructions, see the Provostâ€™s Office website or find the form directly here.
What caregiving resources are available for STEM faculty when they travel?
The STEM Family Travel Initiative offers assistance to women and dual-career couples in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics with childcare and dependent-care needs. Funded by the Elsevier Foundation, the D.O.E.-sponsored Energy Frontiers Research Center, and the N.S.F.-sponsored Center for Hierarchical Manufacturing, the initiative provides small travel grants to faculty and post-docs at the Five Colleges so they can further their research while also balancing work/life responsibilities. For more information, visit the STEM Family Travel Initiative website.
Does the University provide assistance for faculty with elderly
parents or infirm family members?
For detailed resources on elder care options in the valley and across the U.S., please visit Smith College's Guide to Elder Care Resources, a publication of the College's Center for Work & Life.
How can Flexible Spending Accounts help me pay for child care and healthcare?
Flexible Spending Account Plans (“FSA”) allow you to use pre-tax dollars to pay for certain unreimbursed expenses for dependent care (such as day care, nursery schools, and day camp), as well as healthcare (such as office visits, prescription drug co-payments, and excessive eye and dental care needs). Information on FSA plans is available at the Human Resources New Employee Information Program and online.
What is the Parental Leave Policy?
The UMass Amherst Parental Leave Policy contract language states that:
Full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty members, state-funded non-tenure track faculty members with at least six years of full-time service who have appointments that make it possible to fulfill the return obligation described below, and librarians with at least four months of service who become biological or adoptive parents of a child under five years of age shall receive, upon request, a one-semester paid leave. Such leave is intended to be for the purpose of caring for, or preparing for the arrival of, the child. Therefore, members who are on such a leave may not engage in additional salaried employment, and during the leave, all University policies, including but not limited to those governing consulting and outside employment and conflict of interest, shall continue to apply to the bargaining unit member as if that member were not on leave. During that semester, which shall be the semester in which the child’s birth or adoption occurs or an adjacent semester, the faculty member or librarian shall be required to use his or her accrued sick leave. Any otherwise eligible faculty member or librarian with insufficient accrued sick leave may draw against the sick leave bank. FMLA leave shall run concurrent with such parental leave, and no affected faculty member or librarian may use sick leave or the sick leave bank to extend this leave, unless such an extension is medically indicated. Any faculty member or librarian taking such a leave must join or be a member of the sick leave bank prior to commencing the leave and must return for one year of full-time service. A faculty member or librarian who takes a parental leave either immediately preceding or immediately following a sabbatical leave must return for one-and-a-half years of full-time service. Application for parental leave must be submitted at least one semester prior to the proposed start of the leave, when the faculty member or librarian has knowledge of the impending birth or adoption, whichever is later, or when the faculty member or librarian has been granted an appointment that makes it possible to fulfill the return obligation, whichever of the three occurs latest. If an otherwise eligible individual misses the application deadline, the parties will negotiate to determine whether to waive the deadline.
To access the complete contract, please visit the Massachusetts Society of Professors website here.
Can I stop the “tenure clock”?
The UMass Amherst parental postponement of tenure-year decision contract language states that:
The tenure decision year of a non-tenured faculty member who becomes the biological or adoptive parent of a child under five years of age will be delayed for one year upon written notification of the birth or adoption by the faculty member to the department chair, no later than six months after the birth or adoption of the child. A faculty member whose tenure decision year has been postponed under this provision and wishes to have the tenure decision year restored to its original date may do so by written notification to the department chair no later than three months prior to the start of the original tenure decision year.
A faculty member may apply for a one-year delay in the tenure decision year for the birth or adoption of subsequent children; the decision about whether to approve such additional request(s) shall be entirely within the discretion of the department chair.
To access the complete contract, please visit the Massachusetts Society of Professors website here.
Will I receive similar support if I adopt a child?
The University offers the same options to biological and adopting parents. Faculty adopting children under five years old are offered paid parental leave and are also allowed to delay their tenure decision date. See above for more details.
Where can I find information on tuition waivers for me or my family members?
The Office of Human Resources offers information on tuition waivers and tuition remission for full-time benefited UMass Amherst employees, their spouses, domestic partners and unmarried dependent children (through age 25).
Can I request a closer parking lot when pregnant?
Yes, with a note from your doctor certifying your due date, you can get a parking
pass for your "ideal lot" for the last 3 months of your pregnancy and 2
weeks after the child is born. For more details, contact at Parking Services. Be prepared to provide your name, home address, and the number and location of your ideal lot.
I have a question that wasn’t answered here. Where should I look?
Many questions regarding Faculty Benefits and University Policies can be found on the following websites:
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