Faculty and Family Leave Policy
Family care policies for non-tenured/non-tenure track faculty members on 12-month appointments are addressed by the HR policies on Family and Medical leave (see policy HR 0338), sick leave (HR 0380), or other types of leave (see HR 0355). These faculty members should see the Human Resources web site for details and procedures pertaining to this policy.
Lecturers and faculty members on 9-month, non-tenure track appointments are entitled to work directly with their department head or hiring unit supervisor to negotiate mutually agreeable terms for leave and/or service/workload modifications. These agreements should be made in writing with a copy to the faculty member’s Human Resources and departmental files. Note: specific medical information should be excluded from these agreements and should be maintained in a separate file either in the department or in HR.
The provisions in the section below are intended to provide guidance for tenured or tenure-track faculty members who require work modifications for reasons related to family care-giving responsibilities in accordance with the Faculty Handbook (6.4.2) which states that:
“certain 9-month faculty members may be eligible for certain additional benefits such as modifying service requirements and extending the tenure-track probationary status.”
In all circumstances noted above, actions taken under these policies should not affect decisions concerning tenure or other merit-based evaluations. Annual merit reviews are conducted according to job-related criteria, which are unrelated to those involved in the family care policies.
Note: specific medical information should be excluded from the following agreements and should be maintained in a separate file either in the department or in HR.
Provisions For 9-Month Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty Members
Leave of Absence without Pay
Tenure-track faculty members who have a serious illness, or who have primary responsibility for the care of a child or an ill or disabled parent, spouse, or other family member, may request leave without pay pursuant to HR0355. This leave normally will be approved for no more than one year. The faculty member should request leave without pay in a letter to the department head or other administrative officer, who then will forward the request and his/her recommendation to the appropriate dean. The dean will forward the request and his/her recommendation to the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs who will make the final decision on the request.
Eligibility for fringe benefits during the leave of absence without pay for family care reasons shall be governed by the policies applicable to other leaves of absence without pay (HR 0355). Faculty members requesting leave of absence without pay should initiate this process by completing the appropriate HR form for Family and Medical Leave and submitting it to his/her department head who may require medical certification.
Faculty Modified Duties Assignment (FMDA)
If warranted by serious faculty illness or by illness of a family member for whom a tenure track faculty member has primary care-giving responsibility, modifications in the faculty member’s service, while maintaining full pay, may be requested by the faculty member and approved by his/her department head and dean who will forward their recommendation to the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs for approval. Modifications in service may include the following:
- temporarily reduced teaching/service load, or
- other mutually acceptable arrangement, such as course banking, and normally will not exceed one year in duration.
Administrative cooperation in addressing the faculty member’s need for temporary time away from the classroom/service is strongly encouraged.
FMDA Related to the Arrival of a Child
As a matter of right, tenured and tenure-track faculty may modify their responsibilities for up to one semester at full pay while managing the arrival of a child through birth, adoption, or foster care. These modified duties during leave would include:
- Complete teaching release for one semester
- Complete release from on-campus schedule meeting and obligations (although remote attendance may be desirable),
- Research obligations/opportunities to be negotiated.
- Other desirable and negotiated accommodations.
This right applies, regardless of gender, to the primary care-giver for pre-school-aged children. The maximum period of modified duties is one semester within 12 months of the child’s arrival (even in the event of multiple birth or placement of multiple children), and modified duties for this purpose may be requested twice in the course of a career. If both parents qualify for a modified duties assignment, they may be required to use it in different semesters, especially if they reside in the same department.
Eligibility for fringe benefits during any modification in service shall be determined in accordance with the University Personnel Policy and procedure for each fringe benefit.
Extending the Probationary Period
A tenure-track faculty member who is granted a leave of absence or modified duties under the Family Care Policy (i.e., s/he has a serious illness or has primary responsibility for the care of an ill or disabled parent, spouse, or other family member) is eligible for an extension of the tenure-track probationary period for up to one academic year upon agreement by the department head and Dean. In the event of modified duties and leave due to childbirth, adoption, or commencement of foster care, a one-year extension of the probationary period will be granted.
The faculty member’s assumption of the primary care-giving responsibility offered as a justification for extending the probationary period should have occurred within one year prior to the date of the request, and the request must be made before the tenure review process begins. The Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs may waive these time requirements for what he/she deems to be good cause shown in a written statement of the faculty member.
The faculty member must submit a written request for the extension to the department head or other administrative officer, who then will forward the request and his/her recommendation to the appropriate dean. The dean will forward the request and his/her recommendation to the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, who will make the final decision on the request. The UT Board of Trustees limits probationary period extensions to a maximum of two years (or two one-year extensions).
Tenure-track faculty members who are granted an extension of the probationary period will continue to receive annual merit reviews in a process that is independent of the request for extension.
Except in the cases where an extension has been granted, the probationary period at UTK shall not exceed seven years.