Policy 14 – Pregnancy and Parental Leaves (including Adoption), and the Return to Work

The policies found on the website of the Secretariat are compulsory rules for the University community. The authoritative copies of the policies are held by the Secretariat and bear the seal of the University. The online version accessible through the website of the Secretariat is available for information purposes only. In case of discrepancy between the online version and the authoritative copy held by the Secretariat, the authoritative copy shall prevail.

Please contact the Secretariat for assistance if necessary.

Established 1 April 1986
Revised: 6 April 2021
Mandatory Review Date: [1 April 2026]
Supersedes:  15 February 2006
Class: FS
Responsible/Originating Department: Human Resources
Executive Contact: Associate Provost, Human Resources

Related Policies, Guidelines and Procedures:

Policy 3 – Sabbatical and Other Leaves for Faculty Members

Policy 18 – Staff Employment

Policy 39 – Leaves of Absence for Staff Members

Policy 59 – Reduced Workload to Retirement

Policy 76 – Faculty Appointments

Policy 77 – Tenure and Promotion of Faculty Members

1. Introduction

Providing enhanced benefits during pregnancy and parental leaves of absence is a standard offering within the post-secondary sector.  This arrangement helps ensure the University continues to attract and retain talented and engaged employees and aligns with the University’s strategy of being an equitable and diverse community and workplace. This policy supports the University’s goals of teaching, research and service excellence by assisting employees in meeting their family responsibilities as they also succeed in their careers. The University’s investment in benefits for eligible employees is recognition for their long-term contributions to the University’s success. 

2. Scope

This policy addresses leaves of absence and benefits for eligible employees associated with the birth or adoption of a child, and measures available to employees and their managers to facilitate the employee’s return to work following the leave of absence. This policy applies to all employees of the University, excluding students.

Compassionate care leave, medical leave, and other reduced workload arrangements for family care are outside of the scope of this policy. Employees should consult Human Resources, their employee group association, and Policy 59 – Reduced Workload to Retirement, for assistance with out-of-scope topics.

3. Legal Framework

In addition to the abovementioned “Related Policies, Guidelines and Procedures”, the policy will be construed in accordance with applicable law, in particular:

    • Employment Standards Act, 2000, S.O. 2000, c. 41 (“ESA”)
    • Employment Insurance Act, S.C. 1996, c. 23
    • Broader Public Sector Accountability Act, S.O. 2010, c. 25 (“BPSAA”)
    • Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19 (“OHRC”)
    • The University of Waterloo Act 1972, S.O., 1972, c. 200 (“The University of Waterloo Act 1972”).

If any of these legal provisions are modified, abrogated, superseded, or added to, the policy will be interpreted in accordance with the new legal framework. When necessary (e.g., the legal provisions change regarding access, eligibility, length, or benefit amount) the policy will be revised to ensure consistency with the new legal provisions.

4. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to:

  • Describe the principles underpinning the University’s support for employees when their children are born or adopted.
  • Establish roles and responsibilities of the stakeholders involved in planning and supporting pregnancy and parental leaves of absence.
  • Outline the enhanced features of the University of Waterloo (UW) Pregnancy Leave, Parental Leave, Supplemental Maternity Benefits, and Supplemental Parental Benefits and their relationship to legislated leaves and benefits.
  • Define the employee eligibility categories for these leaves and supplemental benefits.
  • Provide guidance on other matters associated with pregnancy and parental leaves, including tenure and promotion timing, and measures to facilitate employees’ successful return to work when their leave ends.

5. Principles

The University’s support for employees when their children are born or adopted is built on the following principles:

  1. Employee health and family well-being are promoted and facilitated.
  2. Competitive supplemental benefits are provided to all eligible employees during leaves of absence.
  3. Eligibility for supplemental benefits is not contingent on employee type (e.g. Faculty, Staff, etc.)
  4. Employees are treated consistently across the University, in a transparent manner.
  5. Supplemental benefits payable to employees during leaves of absence are normally funded centrally.
  6. Employees paid through Human Resources payroll processing with appointment intensities of 33% or greater have access to supplemental benefits during their leaves of absence.
  7. Employees have equal access to supplemental benefits during a Parental Leave, regardless of gender. Parental Leave and supplemental benefits are not shared between two parents if both are University employees. Supplementary maternity benefits for the medical portion of the pregnancy leave are provided only to the birth parent.

 6. Legislation Pertaining to Pregnancy and Parental Leaves and Benefits

Under the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA), eligible employees who are pregnant or new parents have the right to unpaid time off work. These job-protected leaves will be referred to as ESA Pregnancy Leave and ESA Parental Leave. ESA leaves are the minimum required by law. The University provides eligible employees with leaves of absence that exceed these minimum requirements. Section 8 below defines and describes associated leaves of absence referred to as UW Pregnancy Leave and UW Parental Leave.

Under the federal Employment Insurance Act (EI), eligible employees receive EI Maternity and Parental benefits during a pregnancy or parental leave of absence. These benefits will be referred to as Maternity EI benefits and Parental EI benefits.

Employees must apply to Service Canada (online or in person at a Service Canada Centre) for EI benefits. Human Resources (upon request) will produce the employee’s Record of Employment (ROE), which is required to process their EI application. Employees can begin their EI application before their ROE is issued but Service Canada will not process their claim and begin their benefits until the ROE is received. In addition to EI, employees may be eligible for benefits from the University that provide financial support during their leave of absence. Section 9 below defines these benefits, which are referred to as UW Supplemental Maternity Benefits and UW Supplemental Parental Benefits.

7. Employee Eligibility Categories

For UW Pregnancy Leave, UW Parental Leave, UW Supplemental Maternity Benefits, and UW Supplemental Parental Benefits, there are four employee eligibility categories. An employee’s category is determined at the commencement of each leave, as follows:

  1. Tenured, continuing or tenure-track faculty, and employees holding a position without an end date.
  2. All employees, not in Category 1 above, with at least 5 years of employment.
  3. All employees not in Categories 1 or 2 above with between 2 and 5 years of expected employment.
  4. All other employees not in Category 1, 2 or 3 above

Please note that in determining the total period of employment for the eligibility category, separate periods of employment will be added together provided the appointment intensities were all at least 33% and the time between employment periods was less than 26 weeks. Leaves of absence (e.g., sick leave, long-term disability, an unpaid leave of absence or any legislated leave of absence) occurring during a period of employment are counted as part of that single period of employment. Note, however, that periods of employment by the University available:

  1. because of one’s status as a student at the University (for instance, Teaching Assistantships, Research Assistantships, Co-op placements); or
  2. as casual earnings staff as defined under Policy 54 – Definition of Staff

do not count as a period of employment for the purposes of this policy.

8. UW Pregnancy and UW Parental Leaves

UW Pregnancy Leave and UW Parental Leave are job-protected unpaid leaves of absence available to eligible employees who are new parents. They are enhanced versions of the ESA Pregnancy Leave and ESA Parental Leave introduced above in section 6, building upon the minimum leaves set by the ESA. The following descriptions of UW Pregnancy Leave and UW Parental Leave should be reviewed in conjunction with descriptions of the ESA leave terms to understand the full scope of the leaves available to employees.

Employees in eligibility categories 1, 2, or 3 (see Section 7 above) are eligible for UW Pregnancy Leave and UW Parental Leave. Employees in category 4 may be eligible for ESA Pregnancy Leave and ESA Parental Leave.

Employees should understand this policy, and may consult HR, prior to determining and discussing their plans with their manager or department chair. They have the right to contact their union or employee association for assistance at any point.

Statements in the following descriptions beginning with an asterisk “*” indicate a UW enhancement to the ESA’s minimum requirements, or a UW administrative requirement.

UW Pregnancy Leave

  • Eligible pregnant employees have the right to take an unpaid leave of absence of up to 17 weeks, or longer in certain circumstances.
  • *Eligibility does not require a minimum employment period.
  • *UW Pregnancy Leave is not normally to be used when an illness or injury prevents a pregnant employee from performing the essential duties of their position unless they are ineligible for sick leave. Pregnant employees eligible for sick leave should contact Occupational Health to discuss their case and commence pregnancy leave upon the earlier of the due date or delivery. Pregnancy-related sick leave will precede pregnancy leave.
  • UW Pregnancy Leave can begin 17 weeks before the employee’s due date and up to the due date (or date of birth if earlier). In cases when the birth is overdue, the leave of absence will be extended to the birth date, and thus can be longer than 17 weeks.
  • The leave start date is at the discretion of the employee, though the employee must provide the University with the required written notice.
  • *The employee must provide HR with a certificate from a medical practitioner (which may include a medical doctor, a midwife, or a nurse practitioner) stating the baby’s due date.
  • Written notice of leave is required to be submitted to their manager and HR at least two weeks before the start date. Two months notice is preferred, to facilitate planning in the employee’s unit. Retroactive notice of leave is possible in cases of unexpected early birth.
  • *An employee who has a miscarriage or stillbirth more than 17 weeks before the due date is encouraged to seek support and discuss sick leave with a medical practitioner and UW Occupational Health.
  • *In the event of a medical practitioner-confirmed pregnancy loss or stillbirth within the 17-week period preceding the due date, the employee is entitled to up to 17 weeks of leave after the date of the loss. This leave is in addition to any leave the employee has already taken.
  • An employee who wishes to return to work earlier than 8 weeks after giving birth must provide Occupational Health with written approval from their medical practitioner (a medical doctor, a midwife or a nurse practitioner).
  • To change the scheduled leave end date, the employee must submit written notice to their manager and HR at least four weeks before the rescheduled end date. Employees who have not previously scheduled a return to work date and want to return to work before using all 17 weeks of UW Pregnancy Leave must also provide their manager and HR written notice four weeks before their return to work.
  • The University cannot require an employee to return from leave early.

Temporary Return to Work Option

A birth parent on UW Pregnancy Leave can request a temporary return to work before they begin their UW Parental Leave. In all other cases, a return to work, even on a part-time basis, ends the UW Pregnancy and/or UW Parental Leave even if the employee continues to receive EI benefits.

To be considered for a temporary return to work, employees must submit their written request to their manager at least four weeks before the proposed temporary return to work start date. If an employee (e.g. faculty member) wishes to teach in the temporary return to work period, the written request must be submitted at least 16 weeks before the proposed temporary return to work start date. Written approval must be given (with a copy to Human Resources) by the faculty or staff member's manager.  Considerations for approval of the request include:

    • The proposed return to work must be in the best interests of both the employee and the University.
    • The start date for the subsequent UW Parental Leave must be within 78 weeks of the birth (or adoption).
    • The temporary return to work period is a minimum of 4 weeks and a maximum of 52 weeks. (This period may shorten the employee’s eligibility period for EI benefits.)
    • The employee’s role and if they have been or will be replaced by a temporary full-time employee while on UW Pregnancy Leave and UW Parental Leave.
    • The return to work dates and how they correspond to the start and/or end dates of academic terms. This is often a critical consideration for requests received from faculty and staff.
    • The faculty or staff member's manager must inform the applicant of the decision within ten business days.

UW Parental Leave

  • Eligible new parents have the right to take an unpaid leave of absence of up to 61 weeks (if UW Pregnancy Leave has been taken) or up to 63 weeks (if UW Pregnancy Leave has not been taken).
  • *Eligibility does not require a minimum employment period.
  • The right to a UW Parental Leave is separate from the right to UW Pregnancy Leave. A birth parent may take both pregnancy and parental leave.
  • The leave of absence period can commence up to 78 weeks (possibly later for birth parents) after the child is born or the date the child first came into the employee’s care, custody and control.
  • In addition to a birth or adoptive parent, a “parent” also includes a person who is in a relationship of some permanence with a parent of the child and who plans on treating the child as their own.
  • The leave start date is at the discretion of the employee, though the employee must provide the University with the required written notice.
  • *The employee must provide HR with a certificate from a medical practitioner (which may include a medical doctor, a midwife, or a nurse practitioner) stating the baby’s birth date.
  • Written notice of leave is required to be submitted to the relevant manager and HR at least two weeks before the start date. Two months notice is preferred, to facilitate planning in the employee’s unit.
  • To change the scheduled leave end date, the employee must submit written notice to their manager and HR at least four weeks before the rescheduled end date. Employees who have not previously scheduled a return to work date and want to return to work before using all of their available UW Parental Leave must also provide their manager and HR written notice four weeks before their return to work.
  • The University cannot require an employee to return from leave early.

9. UW Supplemental Maternity and Parental Benefits

The University provides supplemental benefits in addition to the Maternity EI benefits and Parental EI benefits described above in Section 6. The combined EI income and the supplemental benefits provided by the University will not exceed the employee’s base pay. If the employee is eligible for EI but their EI benefit payable is reduced due to other sources of income, the supplemental benefits provided by the University will not exceed the amount payable if the EI benefit had not been reduced.

UW Supplemental Maternity Benefit and UW Supplemental Parental Benefit salary payments are paid to the employee and charged to the employee cost-centre through regular payroll processing cycles. In general, where other payroll benefits are centrally funded for the cost-centre, the cost of the supplemental maternity and parental benefit to the cost-centre is likewise centrally funded (as in the case, for instance, of nearly all faculty members with probationary or continuing appointments or employees in faculties who hold positions without an end date).  Faculty and staff supplemental benefits are normally paid centrally so the ongoing salary budget for the position is maintained.

For employees who are funded outside the operating budget (e.g., post-doctoral fellow, research scientist, research staff, etc.), their supplemental benefit amounts from UW will be adjusted to account for any maternity/parental leave allowance provided from the external funding source. Post-doctoral fellows are strongly encouraged to contact the Office of Research and the Graduate Studies and Post-Doctoral Affairs office to learn about potential external supplemental benefits available, some of which may exceed supplemental benefit levels otherwise available to them under this policy.

Table 1 below defines the access and level of maternity and parental supplemental benefits (duration and percentage of base pay) for the employee eligibility categories in Section 7. The supplemental benefits are defined by the percentage of base pay received by the employee, considering both the EI benefit received and the UW benefit provided by the University. The table defines benefits for those eligible for EI (depending on the Parental EI Benefit duration option selected) and those not eligible for EI. Employees in eligibility categories 1, 2, or 3 who are not eligible for EI benefits are only eligible for UW supplemental benefits if they are within their first year of employment at UW when the leave begins.

Every employee applying for UW Supplemental Maternity Benefits or UW Supplemental Parental Benefits must apply for EI benefits. Although EI eligibility is not required to receive the UW Supplemental Maternity Benefit or UW Supplemental Parental Benefit, an employee must provide Human Resources with their EI Benefit Statement or proof they have been deemed ineligible for EI benefits before UW supplemental benefits are paid. As an employee’s EI eligibility status can change from ineligible to eligible while receiving supplemental benefits from the University, it is the employee’s responsibility to reapply and, if eligible, receive EI benefits. Failure to do so may result in the University requiring them to pay back to the University the amount they should have received from EI but instead received from the University. Employees must notify Human Resources as soon as they become aware of the outcome of any such EI reapplication and change in eligibility.

UW Supplemental maternity and parental benefits are calculated in accordance with the pay cycle and distributed evenly based on the expected weekly base pay less the EI benefit rate. If an employee is eligible for EI but, due to other sources of income their EI benefit payable is reduced from their EI benefit rate, UW supplemental benefits will be calculated based on the EI benefit rate (i.e. the unreduced benefit). For the purposes of this Policy, weekly pay is defined as the employee’s annual base pay, which includes paid holidays as defined in Policy 38 (see also the HR website), divided by 52 (the number of weeks in the year).

Table 1. Maximum duration and level of supplemental UW income benefit for employees in each eligibility category and all EI benefit levels.

Eligibility Category1

Waiting Period

Maximum Duration and level of Supplemental UW Income Benefit Relative to Employment Insurance (EI)

EI standard parental benefits 

(55% EI parental benefit, up to 35 weeks)

EI extended parental benefits 

 (33% EI parental benefit, up to 61 weeks)

Not eligible for EI (i.e. accumulated less than 600 insured hours of work in the 52 weeks prior to application for EI)

Category 1 & 2
 

None

Maternity
15 weeks (first 8 weeks at 100%, next 7 weeks at 95%)

Parental - not shared5
20 weeks (95%)

Maternity
15 weeks (first 8 weeks at 100%, next 7 weeks at 95%)

Parental - not shared5
20 weeks (supplemental UW income equivalent to standard EI column2)

Maternity
15 weeks (first 8 weeks at 100%, next 7 weeks the supplemental UW income equivalent to standard EI column2)

Parental - not shared5
20 weeks (supplemental UW income equivalent to standard EI column2)

Category 3

 

12 month waiting period

Maternity
15 weeks (first 8 weeks at 100%, next 7 weeks at 95%)

Parental3 – not shared5
4 weeks for every year4 of expected employment6 yielding a maximum of 20 weeks total

Maternity
15 weeks (first 8 weeks at 100%, next 7 weeks at 95%)

Parental3 - not shared5
4 weeks4 for every year4 of expected employment6 (supplemental UW income equivalent to standard EI column2) yielding a maximum of 20 weeks total

Maternity
15 weeks (first 8 weeks at 100%, next 7 weeks the supplemental UW income equivalent to standard EI column2)

Parental3 - not shared5
4 weeks4 for every year4 of expected employment6 (supplemental UW income equivalent to standard EI column2) yielding a maximum of 20 weeks total

Category 4

NA

NA

NA

NA

  1. See Section 7 for definitions of each eligibility category.
  2. Equivalent supplemental UW income amounts for an employee on the extended EI parental benefits are paid out in an equivalent way to what would be paid if the employee selected the standard EI parental benefits (same payment schedule and same payment amounts from UW).
  3. Regular faculty in Category 3 who satisfy the waiting period have access to at least 17 weeks of supplemental parental benefits.
  4. Prorated for partial years and then rounded up to the nearest full week.
  5. UW Supplemental Parental Benefits are available to both parents provided they are both eligible employees. In that case, UW Supplemental Parental Benefits and associated leaves of absence can be taken concurrently.
  6. “Expected employment” includes all completed years of service with the University, as well as the full term of the employee’s expected continued employment with the University, where a contract for a continued term of employment has been signed at the time that the leave of absence is taken.                                             

UW Supplemental Maternity Benefits

Eligible employees receive up to 15 weeks of UW Supplemental Maternity Benefits while on UW Pregnancy Leave. The 15 weeks can start as early as 12 weeks before the expected date of birth and can end as late as 17 weeks after the actual date of birth. If a pregnant employee is unable to work for medical reasons, sick leave may apply (if the employee is eligible for sick leave) until the earlier of the date of birth or due date, and the UW Pregnancy Leave with UW Supplemental Maternity Benefits will then commence.

For the first eight weeks of UW Pregnancy Leave, the University will pay eligible birth parent employees UW Supplemental Maternity Benefits of 100% of their base pay less any EI Maternity Benefit the employee receives. After eight weeks, for up to seven additional weeks, the University will pay eligible employees 95% of base pay less their EI amount (defined as the lesser of 55% of their base pay or the EI maximum), regardless of the EI received. Adoptive parents are eligible to share the non-medical related UW Supplemental Maternity Benefits for up to seven additional weeks.

In the event of a pregnancy loss during a UW Pregnancy Leave in week 20 of the pregnancy or later, UW Supplemental Maternity Benefits will be paid for up to eight weeks immediately following the loss.  This is in addition to any UW Supplemental Maternity Benefits previously received during the UW Pregnancy Leave. For the total UW Supplemental Maternity Benefits period (before the pregnancy loss and/or up to eight weeks after the loss) the University will pay UW Supplemental Maternity Benefits of 100% of base pay less any EI Maternity Benefit for the first eight weeks, and 95% of base pay less their EI amount, regardless of the EI received, for the remaining weeks.

UW Supplemental Parental Benefits

Eligible employees receive up to 20 weeks of UW Supplemental Parental Benefits while on UW Parental Leave. See Table 1 for details, for each eligibility category. The access, duration and amount of the UW Supplemental Parental Benefit is unaffected by EI eligibility. Employees receiving Parental EI Benefits can choose between two options, standard benefits, and extended benefits. This decision has no impact on the UW Supplemental Parental Benefits payment schedule and amounts employees receive. The UW Supplemental Parental Benefit is 95% of the employee’s base pay less their EI amount (the lesser of 55% of their base pay or the standard parental EI maximum), regardless of EI received.

UW Supplemental Parental Benefits are available to both parents provided they are both eligible employees. In that case, UW Supplemental Parental Benefits and associated leaves of absence can be taken concurrently. Consistent with EI regulations, supplemental parental benefits can start any time after the baby is born (for the birth parent, after UW Supplemental Maternity Benefit payments stop) but will expire after 52 weeks (standard parental) or after 78 weeks (extended parental).

Non-birth parents eligible for UW Supplemental Parental Benefits have an option to exchange three weeks of the maximum Supplemental Parental Benefit to which they are entitled (see Table 1) for an earlier, separate block of 10 paid days (at 100% pay) around the time of the birth so they can support and care for the birth parent and any other children in the family. As soon as they know they wish to make this exchange, employees are to notify their manager or Chair/Director who is in turn responsible for notifying Human Resources.

Employees who have not reached five years of employment and voluntarily terminate their employment with the University may be required to repay some or all of their supplemental parental benefits. Specifically, these are employees who voluntarily terminate their employment prior to completing the years of employment utilized to determine the length of their supplemental parental benefit period(s). The repayment amount depends on the difference or shortfall between the expected years of employment utilized for supplemental benefit period determination and the actual period of employment at the time of voluntary employment termination. For every year of this shortfall, the employee repayment amount is four weeks of their previously received supplemental parental benefit payments. The actual repayment amount will be prorated for partial years and rounded to the nearest full week.

A description of repayment requirements for each Employee Eligibility Category, example scenarios, and a summary table of repayment requirements are included in Appendix 1. Repayment requirements are waived for employees who return to work (e.g., equivalent to their pre-leave employment level) for at least six months after their UW Pregnancy Leave or UW Parental Leave has ended.

10. Continuation of Mandatory Benefits During Leave

While receiving supplemental income benefits from the University during their UW Pregnancy Leave and/or UW Parental Leave, employees must continue their pension and benefits contributions on the same basis as immediately before their leave of absence. Required premiums and contributions are deducted by Human Resources from UW Supplemental Maternity Benefits and UW Supplemental Parental Benefits.

For periods of a UW Pregnancy Leave and/or UW Parental Leave where no supplemental benefits from the University are payable, participation in the pension plan is optional but continuation of benefits is mandatory unless equivalent coverage elsewhere is demonstrated. Employees who choose not to contribute to the pension plan during this time will not accrue full pension plan service credits, reducing their pension accrual. Payment of required premiums and contributions must be arranged with Human Resources.

Employees should consult the registered pension plan documentation and Human Resources for further information.

11. Performance Appraisal and Vacation Entitlement

The length of pregnancy or parental leave has no negative effect on an employee’s performance appraisal or salary. For regular faculty, Section 13.5.4 of the Memorandum of Agreement between the University and FAUW specifies how faculty performance evaluation procedures are adjusted for a faculty member on leave. The collective agreement with the University for union staff specifies how performance appraisals are handled. For all non-union staff employees eligible to receive salary increases May 1st, where there are fewer than eight months of on-the-job performance to assess over the 12-month rating period, the salary increase of the employee will normally be based on the average of her/his overall performance ratings in the three previous years (or the number of years available when fewer than three, with a ‘satisfactory’ rating applied as necessary for new employees).

Employees continue to accrue vacation credits while on leave, provided they comply with the applicable employee group vacation policy (Policy 6 – Vacation – Staff, Memorandum of Agreement –  UW/FAUW, or Collective agreement between the University of Waterloo and CUPE Local 793 (PDF)) . Where possible, outstanding vacation credits should be taken before the beginning of the leave. If the accrued vacation credits cannot be used (due to the leave commencement date or the duration of the leave) they can be carried forward into the next vacation year. This carry-forward is automatic if the employee is on leave as of June 30. The Provost does not need to provide approval for this one-time type of vacation carryover; managers are responsible for reporting this to HR.

12. Tenure and Sabbatical Considerations for Regular Faculty

Pregnancy and/or parental leaves reduce the time available to faculty members to prepare for tenure consideration. Therefore, the probationary period and the time to tenure decision can be extended as follows for each pregnancy leave and parental leave:

Sabbatical leave and administrative leave credit will be earned during each pregnancy or parental leave. Sabbatical and administrative leave credits accumulate at the same rate during the leave as if the faculty member was not on leave. For example, at least two-thirds of the leave period is to be credited as equivalent teaching term(s) for the purposes of sabbatical eligibility determination. Faculty who normally teach all three terms in a year will be assigned equivalent teaching term credits equal to the total leave period for the purposes of sabbatical eligibility determination.

Probationary faculty members continue to accumulate service credit towards sabbatical eligibility during pregnancy or parental leaves. Since probationary faculty members are eligible only to apply for the special early sabbatical at full salary described in section 3 of Policy 3, the limitations on the accrual of time served towards sabbatical leaves do not apply. Service and teaching credit accumulated while on a probationary contract may be applied toward eligibility for sabbatical leave that begins after the President’s decision on the tenure application, subject to the conditions in Policy 3.

If a pregnancy or parental 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/Director of School and Dean. It will not overlap with a regularly scheduled non-teaching term.

13. Returning to Work: Teaching Duty Adjustments

The resumption of work after a pregnancy or parental leave can be challenging for the returning employee. This section defines the effect of a leave on the teaching workload of an employee returning to work and provides a transparent and equitable tool to calculate non-teaching terms.

Teaching assignments normally span an entire academic term, with the teaching of partial courses being atypical. A leave of absence under this policy will not routinely overlap precisely with entire academic term(s), so an adjustment to the teaching workload for employees returning from pregnancy or parental leave is necessary. Table 2 is to be used for teaching workload adjustments based on 17-week academic terms, specifying the number of academic terms in which a faculty member is not required to teach for all possible leave lengths. Translating Table 2 into the number of courses (e.g., teaching tasks) requires only that the nominal teaching load of the faculty member on leave is known (e.g., average number of courses per academic term, which is the average number of courses per year divided by 3).

In order to maintain equity across the University, Chairs/Directors are prohibited from providing teaching workload adjustments subsequent to a pregnancy or parental leave of absence that differ from the process defined below, even if they benefit the faculty member. In addition, the teaching workload adjustments will provide extra time for faculty to fully re-engage in research, scholarship, graduate supervision or service work, for which no workload adjustments are made.

Table 2. Total number of academic terms with no teaching tasks assigned1 for regular faculty taking a pregnancy, pregnancy plus parental or parental leave of absence.

Length (weeks) of Pregnancy plus Parental Leave of absence

Number of associated academic terms with no teaching tasks assigned1

 1-7 weeks

Weeks/17 (1/17 to 7/17)

8-10 weeks

1

11-22 weeks

2

23-39 weeks

3

40-56 weeks

4

57-78 weeks

5

  1. This includes the terms when the faculty member would be on leave. If a birth parent’s pregnancy and parental leaves are two separate periods, the total time on leave is to be used. For example, consider a birth parent taking a 35-week leave (pregnancy immediately followed by parental leave) that starts in the middle of the winter term, overlaps the entire spring term and then finishes in the middle of the fall term. This parent would have three terms where no teaching tasks would be assigned and their normal teaching duties would be eliminated.

The resulting teaching workload adjustments (i.e., a reduction in the number of teaching tasks) must be viewed relative to the teaching workload that would have occurred if the faculty member was not on leave. Teaching workload adjustments must be used within two years of the faculty member returning to work.

Chairs/directors should adapt the above procedure to staff instructors as closely as possible.

The following workload assignment protocols are in addition to the adjustments above:

    • A professorial-rank faculty member returning from leave will teach in no more than two of the ensuing three full terms, provided they would not regularly teach in all three terms. This limit applies to other regular faculty returning from a leave if their normal sequence of teaching duties involves one non-teaching term per year.
    • If a faculty member returns to an academic term in progress, the above limit applies to the first full term back and the following two terms.
    • In the case of a temporary reduced workload arrangement under Section 14, below, this limit is to be applied to three full terms immediately following the temporary workload arrangement.
    • If faculty are scheduled to teach in their first full term after returning from leave, they are to be provided an opportunity to teach only course(s) they have previously taught.
    • Instructors returning from leave must not be scheduled to return to classroom duties (online or on campus) until at least 1 week after the end of the leave. In cases where instructors schedule a vacation period immediately after the end of the leave of absence, they must not be scheduled to return to classroom duties until at least 1 week after the end of this vacation period.

14. Returning to Work: Optional Arrangements

The return to work after a pregnancy and/or parental leave may be a difficult time for some individuals.  Where possible a reduced workload arrangement may be available to help transition new parents back into their career.  During such an arrangement, the University will continue to provide benefits as per Policy 59 Section #3 “During a temporary reduced workload arrangement, benefits other than pension, sick leave and long-term disability (LTD) are the same as for full-time appointments. Pensions may be based on nominal salary subject to limits established by the Canada Revenue Agency”. Employees who wish for additional temporary reduced workload beyond what is authorized in this policy below must arrange this separately under Policy 59 (Section 3).

Regular Faculty

Regular faculty returning from leave are eligible for a temporary reduced workload of as low as 50% of normal full-time faculty under this policy unless they return to work earlier than their scheduled leave end date and they have been replaced with a new full-time hire. As such, eligibility for some faculty may require waiting for their scheduled leave end date. Salary is adjusted proportionately to reflect reduction of work. Temporary reduced workload arrangements must be for a minimum of 12 weeks and end within 78 weeks (63 weeks for the non-birth parent) of the regular faculty member beginning their UW Pregnancy Leave, or UW Parental Leave for the non-birth parent. All such temporary arrangements will be scheduled to end in a) December b) April or c) August.

The leave of absence must be terminated on the day before the period of temporary reduced workload begins. During the temporary reduced workload, no supplementary UW Pregnancy or UW Parental benefits will be paid by the University. 

Faculty members selecting this temporary arrangement must notify their Chair/Director in writing at least 16 weeks prior to the start of the temporary workload arrangement. This notification shall include the start date their UW Pregnancy Leave, or UW Parental Leave for the non-birth parent, and the proposed start and end date of the temporary reduced workload arrangement.  Reduced workload duties must be agreed to by the faculty member, Chair/Director and Dean, and documented. For a reduced workload arrangement spanning two full terms or more, assigned duties will normally include teaching, beyond graduate student supervision. Written confirmation of the arrangement must be provided (with a copy to Human Resources) by the faculty member's Chair/Director. Changes to an agreed upon reduced workload percentage are possible if agreed upon in writing by the faculty member, Chair/Director and Dean.

Staff and All Other Employees

A month before returning to their positions, employees should discuss return-to-work plans and available employee supports with their managers. Managers are encouraged to adopt an appropriate level of initial expectations for the returning employee’s job performance as they re-adjust to their regular work hours and work responsibilities.

Employees can arrange, in consultation with their manager, a temporary reduced workload, similar to that allowed under Policy 59, which enables a reduction to a 50% FTE with a corresponding proportional salary reduction. A period of up to 20 reduced working days will be granted provided the employee makes the request at least one month in advance of their expected date of returning to work. Requests with less than one month of advance notice may still be considered.

15. Continuing Research Support for Faculty on Leave

Faculty holding research funding are strongly encouraged to contact the Office of Research to learn about their specific options while on leave and the corresponding eligibility criteria.

It is important to emphasize that the salary budget for a faculty employee on a UW Pregnancy Leave or UW Parental Leave continues to be available while the employee is on leave. The university recognizes that research continuity is a challenge and an issue of equity, particularly for female faculty with laboratory- or field-based research programs. Individuals who are planning a pregnancy or parental leave and have such research program continuity concerns should discuss ongoing research support during the leave directly with the Dean.

Appendix 1: Supplemental benefit repayment requirements (see Section 9)

Employees in Category 1 are entitled to receive supplemental parental benefit payments from the commencement of their employment. Those who receive this benefit but then voluntarily terminate their employment before contributing five years to the University must repay the benefit received in accordance with their length of employment.

Example: Employee A has voluntarily terminated their employment after only four years and within 6 months following a return to work. They had one parental leave and received 20 weeks of the supplemental parental benefit (the maximum duration available to them as an employee in eligibility category 1). Since they were only employed for a period of four years, they should have only been eligible for 16 weeks of the supplemental parental benefit and so they need to repay four weeks of the benefit received.

Employees in Category 2 are never required to repay any portion of the supplemental parental benefit payments received even if they voluntarily terminate their employment at the end of their leave. They have already satisfied the length of employment period at the onset of the pregnancy and/or parental leave of absence.

Employees in Category 3 are entitled to receive supplemental parental benefit payments following 12 months from the commencement of their employment. The benefit duration depends on their expected length of employment based on their single period of employment, as defined in Section 7, which can include current and historical contracts and appointments. The repayment provision depends on their actual length of employment upon voluntary termination relative to the expected period of employment.

Example: Employee B (not a regular faculty member) had a three-year contract and has voluntarily terminated their employment after two years and within 6 months following a return to work. During their two years of employment, they had one parental leave and received 12 weeks of the supplemental parental benefit (the maximum duration available to them as a staff employee in eligibility category 3 with a three-year contract). Since they were only employed for a period of two years, they were only entitled to receive eight weeks of supplemental parental benefits under this policy. As such, they must repay four weeks of their previously received supplemental UW parental benefit payments.

Table A-1. Supplemental benefit repayment requirements (see Section 9). Summary for employees in eligibility category 1 or 3 who voluntarily terminate their employment prior to their single period of employment (see Section 7) reaching five years.

Expected Period of Employment at the start of a UW Parental Leave

Supplemental Parental Benefit Payment Duration1

Period of Employment at Voluntary Termination

Supplemental Parental Benefit Repayment Required2,3

1 year

None (12-month waiting period)

Not applicable

Not applicable

2 years

8 weeks

1.5 years

2 weeks

2 years

None

3 years

12 weeks

1.5 years

6 weeks

2 years

4 weeks

3 years

None

4 years

16 weeks

1.5 years

10 weeks

2 years

8 weeks

3 years

4 weeks

4 years

None

5 years

20 weeks

1.5 years

14 weeks

2 years

12 weeks

3 years

8 weeks

4 years

4 weeks

5 years

None

> 5 years

 

and

 

Category 1 employees

20 weeks

1 year

16 weeks

2 years

12 weeks

3 years

8 weeks

4 years

4 weeks

5 years

None

  1. For employees who do not collect the supplemental parental benefit for the maximum durations listed in this column, the benefit repayment required is reduced accordingly (by the number of available weeks of benefit not collected).
  2. The actual repayment amount will be prorated for partial years and then rounded to the nearest full week.
  3. No repayment is required for employees who have returned from their Policy 14 leave for at least 6 months.