Policy 3 – Sabbatical and Other Leaves for Faculty Members

Established:​ June 29, 1961

Last updated:April 16, 2024

​Class:​ F


The granting of a leave, with or without pay, depends on the University's assessment of the value of such leave to the institution as well as to the individual, and on whether teaching and other responsibilities of the applicant can be adequately provided for in her / his absence. A faculty member who is granted a sabbatical or other leave is expected to return to duties in the University for at least one year and upon return will be expected to submit a brief report to the Department Chair regarding scholarly activities while on leave.

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.

It is the intention of the University to support in every way possible the sabbatical leave policy stated in this document. It should be clearly understood, however, that the granting of sabbatical leave is contingent upon the faculty member's department being able to make the necessary arrangements to accommodate such an absence, and also upon the financial resources of the University in any given year. Should problems arise in any of the above, it may be necessary to postpone individual requests until such time as all the conditions can be satisfied. Normally, the University will not consider granting two leaves to a faculty member such that one immediately follows the other.

Requests for leave will be considered under the following categories: sabbatical leave; leave without pay; special leave.


Application for leave must be made in writing to the Department Chair and approved by the Faculty Dean and the Vice-President, Academic & Provost. Application for sabbatical leave should include the faculty member's plans for scholarly activities while on leave. Sabbatical and special leaves also require the approval of the Board of Governors, so applications should reach the Vice-President, Academic & Provost at least four months prior to the expected commencement date of the leave. An application must provide information about any remuneration expected from outside sources during the leave. If a leave is not granted, a faculty member is entitled to receive a written explanation of the decision, if so requested.


Sabbatical leave may be granted for a period of up to, but not exceeding, twelve months. The University will continue salary payments to the grantee, subject to the terms outlined below.

Faculty members are eligible to apply for a regular sabbatical leave (either a half-year leave at full salary or a full-year leave at 85% salary) to be taken after six years, full-time (including 12 terms teaching) in the professorial ranks.

"Half-year leave" shall mean leave from normal teaching duties for one term (approximately four months) of the two teaching terms normally required in a 12-month period plus one-half of a non-teaching term. Salary will continue at the individual's normal annual rate.

"Full-year leave" shall mean leave from normal teaching duties for the two teaching terms normally required in a 12-month period plus one full non-teaching term. Salary will continue at 85% of the individual's normal annual rate.

Sabbatical leave is subject to the condition that if a faculty member is eligible to apply for regular sabbatical leave and such leave is deferred by the individual, in consultation with the Department Chair, the additional time served, up to a maximum of three years, may be applied toward eligibility for a succeeding sabbatical leave or may be used to enhance the 85% salary of a current full-year sabbatical leave at the rate of one-twelfth of the normal salary for each extra year of service credit. Total income from the University may not exceed 100% of the normal salary for the year. If deferral is at the request of the University, the three-year limit on additional service credit does not apply.

An "early sabbatical" leave may be awarded after a minimum of three years, full-time (including six terms teaching) in the professorial ranks. Early sabbaticals are half-year leaves at 85% salary and consume credit for three years of service. For early sabbaticals, unused years of service credit count toward subsequent sabbatical leaves, and may not be taken in terms of salary equivalent.

Faculty members holding probationary appointments may apply for a special early sabbatical at full salary rather than at 85% of salary; this sabbatical would normally be completed during the fourth year of probationary appointment.

Where faculty members have assumed substantial administrative responsibilities (e.g. Deans, Associate Deans, Department Chairs, or School Directors) for an extended period (usually four or five years), they shall normally be present on campus for three terms each year. In those or in other exceptional circumstances, the University, at the discretion of the Vice-President, Academic & Provost, may waive the normal service requirement or the normal restriction against granting two consecutive leaves to a faculty member. Sabbatical leave may not be taken during the first two years of appointment. 

Where faculty members have accrued a number of years’ administrative credit as Dean, Associate Dean, Department Chair or School Director, they may exercise the following option: 

  • Four years of unused administrative service credit may be exchanged once for four months of fully paid leave; such leaves may be taken in advance of or subsequent to an approved sabbatical leave, allowing a faculty member to be away from campus for up to 16 consecutive months. 
  • Unused administrative service credit of less than four years may be used only as a salary top-up. While on leave, total income from the University may not exceed the individual’s normal annual salary. 

That is, one must have at least four years of unused administrative service credit in order to exchange it for paid leave, and such an exchange may occur only once during a faculty member’s tenure at the University. 


  1. When applying for sabbatical leave, faculty members are advised to inquire through their Department Chairs regarding the possibility of combining the leave with non-teaching terms (to the extent of not more than twelve consecutive months off campus, or not more than eight consecutive months in the case of an "early sabbatical") and regarding the procedures to apply for a University-funded research grant for an amount up to but not exceeding the entitlements for salary payments indicated above. For purposes of pension and insurance benefits, such a research grant will be treated as for leave without pay.
  2. Although only those in the professorial ranks are eligible to apply for sabbatical leave, in determining eligibility and service credit, the calculation should normally include one-half the regular credit for up to four years of service as a full-time UW Lecturer. Such credit is to be applied to an individual's first sabbatical leave only.
  3. Sabbatical credits for those on reduced or fractional-load appointments are earned in the normal six-year period, but prorated in the same way as the work load. For example, a faculty member on two-thirds load would earn either a six-month sabbatical leave at normal salary (i.e., two-thirds of nominal salary) or a twelve-month sabbatical leave at 85% of normal salary, after six years of service.
  4. The requirement for completing twelve terms of teaching may be waived in the case of faculty members who hold special fellowships (e.g. Killam, Sloan, Steacie) which free them of teaching duties to devote time to research. These faculty members will be eligible to apply for sabbatical leave after six years of full-time service to the University, including the years spent as Fellows.
  5. If a faculty member becomes ill or injured while on sabbatical leave, such that they are unable to work for two weeks or more, they may convert that period of sabbatical leave to sick leave, subject to appropriate medical certification. If a faculty member becomes eligible for bereavement leave of four weeks, or for compassionate care leave of two weeks or longer (under Human Resources policies related to bereavement leave and compassionate care leave*), they may convert that period of sabbatical leave to bereavement leave or compassionate care leave, as appropriate, subject to appropriate documentation. At the end of the period of sickness, bereavement leave, or compassionate care leave, the faculty member may return to their sabbatical, with no extension, or, if at least three months of sabbatical remain at the start of the period of leave, the faculty member may defer the remaining sabbatical, including the period lost to sickness, bereavement, or compassionate care leave. In this case, the missed portion of the sabbatical will be rescheduled within the next three years in consultation with the member's department Chair/Director of School and Dean. For pregnancy or parental leave during sabbatical, see Policy 14.

    *note: this reference shall be changed to reflect the final approval of Policy 12 - Compassionate Care and Bereavement Leave, when that occurs.


Faculty members who wish to devote increased time to family or other outside interests during a portion of their careers should consult Policy 59 (Reduced Workload to Retirement).

Leave Without Pay

Requests from faculty members for periods of up to one year will be considered on an individual basis; normally, such leaves are not granted during probationary terms. When leave without pay is granted, salary will be withheld at the rate of six months without pay for each of the two normally required four-month regular teaching terms in any one year. In exceptional cases, a leave without pay may be renewed, on application, for a second year.

Special Leaves

At the discretion of the President, with the approval of the Board of Governors, special leave, with individual arrangements regarding both duration and salary, may be granted. UW guidelines re Political Leaves have been developed and are attached to this policy as appendix A.

Pregnancy, Adoption and Parental Leaves are addressed in Policy 14.


Members must continue their benefits (OHIP, Supplementary Sickness and Accident, Group Life Insurance, Long Term Disability) coverage during the period of leave. The cost of continuing the benefits coverage will normally be shared in the same manner as that of an active member. As a condition of approval for a leave without pay, post-dated cheques, to cover the portion of premiums normally paid by the member, must be left in the Records Section of Human Resources prior to the beginning of the leave.

If the member continues to receive full or part salary from the University during the absence, the member's share of the cost of benefits will be deducted from the salary in the usual manner. Should the University policy determining cost-sharing arrangements, or government or University benefits change during the absence, cost-sharing arrangements may be changed accordingly.

Retirement Benefits

During a fully paid absence, participation in the UW Pension Plan must be continued and the member's contributions will be deducted from salary in the usual manner. During a sabbatical or other leave, participation in the Pension Plan must be continued at a level determined by the member's salary during the absence and deductions based on the reduced salary will be made in the usual manner.

Since pension at retirement can be substantially affected by a loss of pension credit during a sabbatical or leave without pay, consideration should be given by members to maintaining their contributions to the Pension Plan if allowed by CCRA rules during such absence at the level at which they would have made contributions had they been receiving full salary in order to maintain full years of service credit. Such an arrangement can be made. The member is urged to discuss this matter with Human Resources at the earliest possible time prior to the period of absence.



The University of Waterloo recognizes that, from time to time, employees may wish to participate in the public life of Canada, a province or a municipality by running for and holding public elective office. For purposes of these guidelines, a public elective office shall include Member of Parliament, Member of a Provincial Parliament, Municipal (including Regional) Councillor, Mayor of a municipality, member of a Board of Education or other office filled by a vote conducted under the Ontario Municipal Elections Act.

The University hereby acknowledges this role by adopting a set of practices which is both supportive of this activity and as fair as possible to employees, their colleagues and the University. Moreover, such practices will apply regardless of the partisan affiliations or political beliefs of such employees.


These guidelines apply only to faculty and staff with continuing appointments.


Any employee who intends to become a candidate for any public elective office shall notify her/his Chair or supervisor of this decision at the earliest feasible date. The candidate shall consult with the Chair or supervisor about the possible impact of the candidacy on the performance of duties, both during the campaign period and over the longer term in the event of success in the election.

The Chair or supervisor and the candidate should reach an understanding as quickly as possible about the performance of the candidate's University responsibilities during the election campaign, including the timing of any leave of absence requested (see section 3), and during the term of office of the position being sought. Such an understanding is to be confirmed in a joint memorandum which will be sent as a recommendation to the appropriate senior administrative officer (e.g. Dean, in the case of a faculty member; Associate Provost, in the case of a staff member) whose primary responsibility is to ensure that the arrangements made are fair to all concerned. Basic information should also be communicated at that time to other employees in the candidate's department.


An official candidate for a seat in the House of Commons or a provincial legislature should normally be granted a leave without pay for the purposes of campaigning; the candidate's pension and benefit arrangements are described in Leave of Absence Policies 3 and 39. The period of leave for campaigning will normally begin after the issuance of writs and cover the period between nomination day and polling day; if at all possible, the leave should extend until one week after polling day. In federal elections, a leave for campaigning would normally be no more than 50 days and no less than 28 days (the close of nominations). In provincial elections, nomination day may be from 23 to 60 days after writs are issued; as a result, a leave might be as long as 74 days or as short as 14 days (the close of nominations).

Employees who intend to seek election to municipal office (including Boards of Education) normally do not require a leave for campaigning. Instead, some flexibility should be sought, where necessary and where possible, in the performance of regular University duties during the last three weeks before polling day. Possibilities include partial unpaid leave of absence, time off in lieu of overtime, flextime arrangements or the use of vacation.

Note: Whether as a candidate for or holder of a public elective office, an employee shall not speak as a representative of the University of Waterloo.


Candidates elected to serve in the House of Commons or the Ontario Legislature will normally be granted leave without pay for the life of that Parliament, up to and including polling day for the subsequent Parliament. If the employee is re-elected to serve in successive Parliaments, he/she will be required to apply for a further leave which will be granted, unless the total number of consecutive years of leave would exceed six. If an employee continues to serve in such an office after the expiry of a University-granted leave, the employee shall be deemed to have resigned her/his University post. Such a resignation does not preclude the possibility of reappointment by the University under conditions satisfactory to all concerned. It should be noted that an employee who is elected to the House of Commons or the Ontario Legislature and is appointed a Minister of the Crown may be requested by the Prime Minister or Premier to resign from the University immediately.

Normally, candidates elected to municipal office will not require a leave of absence; the performance of duties can be considered a form of community service and can often be combined with regular University duties. However, any elected official whose civic duties infringe upon her/his University responsibilities should seek an appropriate adjustment of University responsibilities and compensation under the provisions of Leave of Absence Policies 3 and 39.

If, in the assessment of the Chair or supervisor, the individual's performance is being adversely affected by civic duties, the Chair or supervisor may request an adjustment of University responsibilities and compensation. In both cases, the operative principle ought to be to preserve the integrity of University operations while facilitating, to the extent possible, the performance of community service. Normally, a faculty member who holds a major administrative position within the University shall resign this position upon assuming any public elective office.

While on an approved leave for these purposes, an employee shall retain all normal rights of those on leave, including pension and benefit entitlements which are described in Policies 3 and 39, and are subject to Government of Canada regulations. Such an employee shall be able to return to the University at the same rank or position and at the same salary plus any scale or range adjustments that may have been granted to employees during the leave. Faculty members on probationary contracts may return at the expiration of the leave without pay to complete the probationary term held when elected.

Issued by the President as an appendix to Policies 3 and 39, following consultation with the Faculty and Staff Relations Committees and with Executive Council.

March 15, 1994.

Amended, 28 February 2020 – Official titles only