Joint Memo from FAUW and the Provost on Leaves and Related Matters

Monday, May 2, 2016

To: All UW Faculty

From: Ian Orchard, Vice-President Academic and Provost; Sally Gunz, President, Faculty Association

Date: May 2, 2016

Subject: Leaves and Related Matters

We would like to clarify the official university position on faculty leaves from the University of Waterloo.  These are leaves which faculty members may avail themselves of, and to which they are entitled. We are distributing this document because from time to time we hear that faculty members are reluctant to ask for leaves out of concern for the burden that might fall on others in their department.  These leaves have all been created in order to ensure you have a successful academic career. While respect for others is important, you are not expected to give up these leaves. Balancing the needs of all faculty members in a department is the responsibility of the department chair. Cost, both in financial and organizational terms, is something for the university to absorb and not you.


Per Policy 3, “the purpose of a sabbatical leave is to contribute to professional development, enabling members to keep abreast of emerging developments in their particular fields and enhancing their effectiveness as teachers, researchers and scholars. Such leaves also help to prevent the development of closed or parochial environments by making it possible for faculty members to travel to differing locales where special research equipment may be available or specific discipline advances have been accomplished. Sabbaticals provide an opportunity for intellectual growth and enrichment as well as for scholarly renewal and reassessment.”

A sabbatical leave may be approved and granted for a period of up to, but not exceeding, twelve months. A regular sabbatical can be either a half-year leave (6 months at 100% salary) or a full year leave (12 months at 85% salary) taken after 6 years of accumulated service credit. The latter can be topped up to 100% salary if the faculty member has accumulated sufficient service and/or administrative credit. 

Faculty members holding probationary appointments may apply for a special early sabbatical (6 months at 100% salary); this sabbatical would normally be completed during the fourth year of the probationary appointment and is intended to allow faculty members uninterrupted preparation time for tenure. This provision was introduced in recognition of Waterloo’s relatively short tenure clock.

The University plans for and provides resources to cover the additional costs created by your leave. The leave enhances professional development and is therefore good not only for the faculty member, but also for the academic unit and the full academic community.

Pregnancy and Parental leaves (including Adoption)

Per Policy 14, “Pregnancy, adoption or parental leaves reduce the time available to prepare for tenure consideration. Therefore, the probationary period and the time to tenure decision will be extended by one year on request to the Dean. The maximum extension is one year for each such leave during the probationary period.”

You will continue to earn sabbatical credit during each pregnancy, adoption or parental leave, including credit for teaching terms.  If such a leave begins during a sabbatical leave, the missed portion of the sabbatical will be rescheduled within the next three years in consultation with the department chair and dean. It will not overlap with a regularly scheduled non-teaching term.

A faculty member returning from pregnancy, adoption or parental leave should be required to teach in no more than two of the ensuing three terms (see, also, Policy 77). Teaching duties will be reduced in proportion to the length of each pregnancy, adoption or parental leave. For instance, a six-month leave would imply a reduction in teaching duties equivalent to 50% of the faculty member's annual teaching load. The actual sequence of teaching and research terms will depend on individual circumstances, and will be determined in consultation with the chair and dean. During these discussions, the overall impact of the leave and reduced teaching load on total research time and sabbatical duty cycles should be addressed.

Policy 14 recognizes the obvious career interruption of pregnancy and parenting. The University plans for and provides resources to cover the additional costs created by your leave. Pregnancy leave is designed to protect faculty members’ academic careers by allowing them time to adjust to the impact of pregnancy. Parental leave has the same goal of protecting faculty members’ academic careers. Again, it is in the best interest of the entire academic community for faculty members to succeed as members of the University and as parents.

Medical leaves

The University of Waterloo Disability Guide states that “occasionally, an illness or injury is severe enough to impact your abilities, daily activities and work experiences.  When this happens, the University is committed to delivering positive outcomes while you are at or returning to work.  The University of Waterloo facilitates safe, healthy and sustainable return to work plans which may include workplace accommodations. The University of Waterloo sick leave benefit provides continued income for all illnesses and injuries where there is an identifiable and verifiable medical evidence indicating you need to be away from the workplace. All medical information is kept confidential.”

Faculty members should contact the Occupational Health nurses on campus and, if you choose, to seek the assistance of FAUW. Medical conditions can result in a leave. Should a leave be recommended by occupational health staff (based on the recommendations of the faculty member’s physician), your dean is advised and they in turn advise your chair or director. Faculty members have a right to privacy and at no time is either the chair/director or dean given the reasons (the private medical details) for the leave.

A separate but sometimes related issue is that of accommodation. Accommodation means that the faculty member is able to be at work or return to work but only with some appropriate modification to their working conditions that may be temporary or long-term. Similar processes apply in the application for accommodations as with medical leaves.

The right to personal privacy of the faculty member is paramount. The University plans for and provides resources to cover the additional costs created by your leave/accommodation.

Teaching terms

It is the responsibility of chairs to assign teaching (Policy 40). Faculty holding probationary or tenured positions can only be asked to teach two terms out of three (Policy 76). Continuing lecturers are assigned primarily teaching and service duties in all three terms, but have the option to have at least one term in six as a non-teaching term. If the faculty member wishes to have one or other of the above non-teaching terms, it is the responsibility of the academic unit to allow for this to happen.  In both cases these provisions were put in place to allow faculty members the time to focus on the non-teaching aspects of their responsibilities and are considered to be in the best interests of the university as a whole.