Examination of Perceptions of Procedural Justice When Establishing a Maternity Leave Policy in a University Setting

Sarah Leider, Western Kentucky University


Procedural justice in organizations has received increasing attention from researchers in recent years. Part of the reason for the increase in attention is that today's workforce must satisfy inner needs through aspects of the job that are not related directly to pay and promotion due to the current trend in downsizing organizations. As more women enter the workforce, the issue of maternity leave is also becoming more prevalent. More and more women are working in professional fields and don't want to end their careers in order to have and raise children. In this current study the researcher has combined the issues of procedural justice and maternity leave to examine various methods for establishing a maternity leave policy in a university setting. Fifteen scenarios were developed combining three levels of procedural justice and five maternity leave policy options. The three procedural justice levels were autocratic, consultative, and participative. The five options were: hire a temporary instructor (paid leave), have other faculty cover the courses, hire a temporary instructor (unpaid leave), pregnant faculty member team teaches with another faculty member, and pregnant faculty member teaches bi-term courses. It was hypothesized that the more participation the faculty were allowed in the decision making process, the more likely they would be to rate the scenario favorably. A second hypothesis was that subjects would be more likely to favor maternity leave options that resulted in less work for them (i.e., hire a temporary instructor) than those that would require more work (i.e,. cover the course for the pregnant faculty member). Faculty members were presented with the fifteen scenarios in a questionnaire. Participants were asked to rate each scenario on the following variables: willingness to support the policy, fairness to pregnant faculty, fairness to other faculty, fairness of process used to make decision, and appropriateness of the level of faculty involvement when making the decision. Strong support was found for both hypotheses.