Regular faculty are entitled to a number of leaves—and you really can take them

What you need to know

  • Your benefits continue during your leave.

  • You get an extension on your tenure clock for one year with parental leaves (just request this from your dean). Extensions are also possible for other leaves.

  • FAUW can help you navigate any kind of leave from the start (or help you decide if a leave is right for you); don't wait until you run into problems.

FAUW's advice

Take your leaves when you need them, and don’t worry about how they affect your department or the University. The financial impact of leaves is covered by the central administration (e.g., your department still receives your full salary while you're on parental leave), and changes to teaching or service commitments are your chair's responsibility. It's not your job to replace yourself.

Make sure that you check in with your chair or departmental administrator about how to handle:

  • Extending research grants

  • Accommodations in your performance review (note that, depending on the type of leave and how long it is, you might not need to fill your performance review form out at all).

  • Delegating signing authority to a colleague on campus

  • Student supervision

Offered a new position somewhere else? Take an unpaid leave rather than resigning right away while you test it out.

Who to talk to

  • Human Resources, for questions about what you’re entitled to and impacts on your pension and benefits.
  • Occupational Health, to discuss sick leave or adjustments to your work requirements or environment. 

  • Your chair or director, for discussions about scheduling.

  • FAUW, if you have concerns or want to discuss the impacts of a leave on your academic life.

Where to find information


Other resources

What you're entitled to

Medical leaves

Sick leave: 180 calendar days. Periods longer than 5 days may require supporting medical documentation. We recommend working with an Occupational Health Nurse on your documentation. 

Long-term disability: Up to 2 years. To be eligible, you must be unable to perform your job and "totally disabled" as per an objective medical opinion. 

For more information, see the Employee Benefits Program booklet (look for "Pension and Benefits Booklet (pdf)" on that page) and the Disability Management Guide.

Unpaid leave and self-funded leave

Unpaid leave: Faculty can take up to 12 months of unpaid leave. See Policy 3, section 4.

Self-funded leave: From 6 to 12 months; funded through deferred salary. You have to request this three years in advance. See types of absences and leaves on the HR website for more information.

Emergency and bereavement leaves

Bereavement leave

The University provides, with 100% of your pay:

  • four weeks of leave on the death of a spouse/partner, child, or step-child;
  • one week of leave on the death of any other immediate family member, such as a parent or sibling.

Things to note

  • The University’s information about bereavement leaves has not been updated to reflect this change.
  • You must notify your chair/director that you are going on a such a leave. They can notify HR if necessary.
  • Your chair/director is responsible for finding a replacement to cover your responsibilities while you are on leave.
  • Your dean (not your chair/director) will handle requests for extending the bereavement leave with 100% pay beyond the limits noted above.

Family responsibility leave

The UW emergency leave guideline provides three paid days. Your chair/dean may choose to exceed this three-day guideline. The Employment Standards Act entitles you to 3 days, unpaid.

(See also: Compassionate/family care leaves)

Compassionate/family care leaves

Ontario compassionate care leaves

The Ontario Employment Standards Act provides the following unpaid, job-protected leaves:

  • Family caregiver leave: to provide care or support to certain family members for whom a qualified health practitioner has issued a certificate stating that they have a serious medical condition. You can take up to eight weeks unpaid per calendar year per specified family member.
  • Family medical leave is for cases where the family member who has a serious medical condition has a significant risk of death occurring within a period of 26 weeks. You can take up to 28 weeks unpaid per 52-week period, and employment insurance (EI) covers up to 26 weeks.
  • Critical illness leave is to provide care or support to a minor child or adult who is a family member, whose baseline state of health has changed significantly and whose life is at risk from an illness or injury. You can take up to 37 weeks per 52-week period in relation to a critically ill minor child, or 17 weeks in relation to a critically ill adult, and EI covers up to 35 or 15 weeks.
  • There are also organ donor, child death, and domestic violence leaves available under the Employment Standards Act.

Employment insurance will pay 55% of your salary, up to about $600 a week.

Waterloo supplemental benefits

If you are on a critical illness leave or family medical leave, the University will pay 85% of your base salary, less any Employment Insurance benefit you receive, for a maximum of eight weeks.

You can submit a request in writing to your dean to extend your benefits beyond eight weeks. Regardless of whether your benefits are extended, you are entitled to the full leaves as specified above (28, 37, or 17 weeks, depending on the leave).

If you are eligible for Employment Insurance (EI), you must apply for it, but the benefit is not contingent upon receiving EI.

Things to note:

  • You must notify your chair/director of the dates of your leave, but you don’t need to provide any additional details.
  • Your chair/director is responsible for finding a replacement to cover your responsibilities while you are on leave.
  • You should contact HR for guidance on the leave, EI benefits and UW supplemental benefit paperwork.
  • Your dean (not your chair/director) will handle requests for extending the UW supplemental benefit period beyond eight weeks.

(See also: Emergency and bereavement leaves)

Reduced workload

It's not quite a leave, but Policy 59 allows employees to reduce their workload as low as 50% of full-time, with salary adjusted proportionately. Depending on your circumstances, this might be a better option for you than a leave.

Temporary reduced workload

  • Up to 2 years, extended to a maximum of 4 years
  • After that: fractional-load appointment

Reduced workload to retirement

  • Up to 17 years, or to your 71st birthday
  • You need to be at least 45 years old with 10 years of uninterrupted regular full-time service.
  • You have to set your retirement date when this starts, but you can always retire earlier than that date.

While your workload is reduced, your sabbatical credit accrues proportionately. Your pension and pension contributions remain based on your full-time salary.

For more information, see Policy 59 – Reduced Workload to Retirement.


  • 1 month for the first ten years
  • 1 month + 1 week as of your 11th year at UW (or age 55)

Carrying vacation time forward

  • If you teach every term, you can can carry forward two weeks, for one year or, for lecturers, until you have a non-teaching term
  • All faculty can carry forward some vacation time in "exceptional circumstances"

For more information, see the Memorandum of Agreement, Section 11.2.