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7.0 General Employment Policies

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7.5 Leaves of Absence and Faculty Teaching Relief

7.5.1 Sabbatical Leaves for the Faculty

Tenured Faculty Sabbatical Leave

The purpose of sabbatical leaves is to make it possible for members of the tenured Faculty to take time off from normal academic duties for scholarly research and study. The Institute's plan is based on the normal expectation of a one-half-year leave at full salary, or a full-year leave at half salary, following six years of full-time service as a member of the regular Faculty. Implementation of this policy in a specific case may be limited by the responsibility of the departments to meet their obligations and the financial resources that can be made available. Years in which faculty members are on leave or have served in any rank of visiting professor are not counted in the six years. Years of service beyond the six-year requirement cannot be counted toward qualification for subsequent sabbaticals.

Faculty members must apply to their department heads a reasonable time in advance (normally one year) and describe their proposals for the use of the sabbatical. In considering whether the request for sabbatical leave can be recommended to the dean, department heads must take into account the commitments for teaching and research in their departments. The final allocation of sabbaticals is made by the Provost. Awards for each applicant are on a no-loss, no-gain basis up to the maximum payment by MIT of half the academic year's salary. The objectives of the sabbatical can often be met by other leaves or by full-time employment on a grant or contract to the Institute. (See Section 7.4 Benefits for Faculty and Staff Members.)

If conditions covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) occur during sabbatical, the faculty member may request an FMLA leave and a suspension of the sabbatical for the period of FMLA leave. (See MIT Personnel Policy Manual Section 4.5.)

Eligible faculty members are expected to report their outside professional activities to their department heads annually, as described in Section 4.4 Conflict of Interest and 4.5 Outside Professional Activities.

Junior Faculty Research Leave

The purpose of the Junior Faculty Research Leave Program is to assist young scholars in their pre-tenure years by providing a concentrated period of time during which they can engage in research to advance their careers.

The research leave is a one-semester leave with pay taken during Years two to six of the faculty member's probationary period. All tenure track faculty are eligible for the leave. Normally this leave may not be taken during the faculty member's first year of appointment or the last year at MIT. Faculty members who have been given a terminal appointment may not be granted a research leave.

Faculty members should apply to their department head for the research leave. Faculty are expected to consult with their mentors and the department head about the timing of leaves to ensure the best use of the opportunity and to be consistent with the faculty member's teaching and other obligations.

The application should be in the form of a proposal outlining how the faculty member will use the time and how the work proposed fits into the faculty member's research agenda. Applications should be submitted to department heads based on their local schedules, keeping in mind that planning and financing are part of the annual budget process. The Dean of the School and the Provost must approve all applications.

Financial arrangements for the research leave are the same as with traditional sabbatical leaves: the department keeps 40% of the salary which can be used for replacement teaching. The remaining 60% is returned to the Institute.

Junior Faculty Leaves are intended for research and should not be confused with other types of leave, such as Personal Leave or Parental Leave, or with the various relief from teaching arrangements schools have in place. Leaves must be taken during the second through the sixth year and are lost if not taken. These leaves should also not be confused with the traditional Faculty Sabbatical which is only available to faculty who have been awarded tenure.

The Junior Faculty Leave does not stop the tenure clock and does not affect the timing of sabbaticals that might be awarded to junior faculty if they are subsequently awarded tenure. Departments may, at their discretion and expense, extend the leave beyond one semester or provide additional considerations, including components of a faculty start-up package or teaching relief.

During the transition period (School years 2000-2001 and 2001-2002) where existing junior faculty who have not previously had this opportunity take advantage of this new program, the following schedule applies. In Year 1, 2000 - 2001, leaves are only available to faculty who are in the fifth and sixth years on the tenure track. In 2001-2002, the leave is available to faculty in years three through six. In the third and subsequent years, faculty in years two through six may take the leave.

There may be reasons why particular departments, with sufficient justification, may want to vary the schedule. Requests to deviate should be addressed to the Provost. Such a variation might reasonably exist when departments have faculty who are clustered in particular years due to a period of intense hiring, or where particular teaching requirements or other local conditions suggest that a different pattern would better serve all parties.

7.5.2 Other Leaves for the Faculty

Members of the Faculty may request professional and personal leaves. Professional leaves allow faculty members to undertake professional development or public service opportunities, whereas personal leaves allow faculty time to address urgent medical, personal, or family matters that prevent full attention to academic and scholarly duties. Leaves are granted by department heads with the approval of the dean and in consideration of applicable law.

Professional Leave: Unpaid professional leaves may be granted to allow faculty members to undertake professional development or public service opportunities. Such leaves may be granted in consideration of the purpose of the leave, the proposed activity, and departmental needs. The period of the leave must be specified and shall not normally exceed one academic year; however, the leave may be extended by the dean for a second year. Extension of such leaves beyond two academic years is only possible in extraordinary circumstances and requires approval of the Provost. For untenured members of the Faculty, professional leaves are included in the determination of years of service for tenure decisions.

In extraordinary cases and in further consideration of the School's mission and faculty development, one professional leave for up to one year may be excluded in determination of years of service for tenure decisions. This exception requires the approval of the Provost in advance.

Personal Leave: Personal leaves may be granted to eligible faculty who face medical, personal, or family crises or who have urgent obligations that interfere with their work. The conditions include, but are not limited to, those defined in the Family and Medical Leave Act and detailed in Section 4.5 of the MIT Personnel Policy Manual, which states that leaves may be taken for the purpose of:

  1. an employee's own serious health condition (including conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth);
  2. the birth and care of the employee's newborn child (leave must be completed within 12 months of the date of birth);
  3. the placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care (leave must be completed within 12 months of the date of placement); or
  4. the serious health condition of the employee's child, parent, or spouse* requiring the employee's participation in care.

(*This policy will also include same-sex "spousal equivalent," according to the following definition: the partner is the same sex as the employee and is at least 18 years of age; the partner has shared a common residence with the employee for a period of at least four consecutive months and intends to reside indefinitely with the employee; the partner and the employee consider themselves life partners, share joint responsibility for their common welfare, and are financially interdependent.)

In consideration of such conditions, eligible faculty members are entitled to a leave without pay of up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period. More detail on the FMLA may be found in the MIT Personnel Policy Manual Section 4.5. Unpaid leave beyond 12 weeks may be granted subject to approval and required documentation. For the purpose of computing years of service for tenure decisions, personal leaves shall not be included. In counting years, the semester is the quantum by which years of service are determined (see Section 3.2 Tenure Process).

Faculty members may elect to take advantage of release arrangements offered by Schools to accommodate their personal needs. In appropriate circumstances, the release time may count as part of a faculty member's FMLA leave. Except as stated in Section 7.5.3 Faculty Teaching Relief or otherwise specifically stated, the time included in these special arrangements is included in the calculation of years of service for tenure decisions.

7.5.3 Faculty Teaching Relief

Faculty members, regardless of gender, who wish to spend the majority of their academic time on the care of and responsibility for a newborn child or a child newly placed with them for adoption or foster care will be released from teaching and administrative duties for one semester at full pay, but they will continue to be expected to fulfill their thesis-advising responsibilities and sustain their research program.

Institute rules on outside professional activities for full-time faculty will remain in force for those on such release. Also, it is expected that, normally, they will not increase their usual outside professional activities.

Faculty members can take advantage of this policy in any term they choose within one year after the arrival of a child. Those seeking such release should notify their department heads in writing that they will spend the majority of their academic time on the care of the child over the period of the release. Such notification must be made as far in advance of the leave as possible (normally one semester's notification is required) so that steps can be taken to cover the faculty member's teaching obligations.

For policies on tenure and family-care issues, see 3.2.1 Extension of Tenure Clock for Childbearing and 3.2.2 Part-Time Appointment with Tenure for Family Care. For information on unpaid leaves associated with family or medical situations, see Section 7.5.6 Parental Leaves of Absence Without Pay and the MIT Personnel Policy Manual Section 4.5 Leaves Provided under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.

7.5.4 Sick Leave Policy for Faculty, Academic Staff, Research Staff, and Administrative Staff

There is no formal method of sick leave accrual or accounting for members of the Faculty or for academic, research, or administrative staff. A reasonable number of justifiable absences are paid in full. Extreme cases of extended illness or accident will be treated on an individual basis, with due regard to length of service at the Institute and other relevant factors, and may be paid for the duration of the absence up to, but not normally exceeding, a period of six months. Medical evidence may be required when, in the opinion of the department head or supervisor, the need is indicated by the pattern of sick leave usage or the period of absence. Departments are responsible for reporting a continuous absence greater than one month to the office of their School dean or senior officer or to their human resources officer for review. For information on sick leave for support staff, see the MIT Personnel Policy Manual Section 4.3 Sick Leave/Personal Leave.

7.5.5 Leaves of Absence for Staff Members

Leaves of absence without pay may be granted to academic, research, and administrative staff for a specified period of time, normally for educational or public service reasons and because the Institute wishes to maintain an association with the individual. A supervisor may authorize an individual to take, in any calendar year, unpaid leave of a duration not to exceed the individual's normal pay period. Requests for leaves of more than the normal pay period but less than six months must be approved by the supervisor, the department head, and the appropriate human resources officer for the department.

Unpaid leaves of absence of six months to one year in duration must be approved by the supervisor, the department head, the appropriate human resources officer for the department, and the senior officer for the area. When a position is not being held for the employee who has requested leave, approval must be obtained from the Vice President for Human Resources. Unpaid leaves of absence may not exceed one year, but may be renewed in special circumstances with the approval of the Vice President for Human Resources. (See Section 7.4 Benefits for Faculty and Staff Members.)

Eligible staff members are entitled to a leave of absence without pay of up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period to care for their newborn child or a child newly placed with them for adoption or foster care; because of the serious health condition of their child, parent, or spouse requiring their participation in care; or because of their own serious health condition, including conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth. For leave to be counted towards the 12-week FMLA period, the staff member must receive written notice that the leave is being considered FMLA leave. (For more information, see Section 7.5.6 Parental Leaves of Absence Without Pay or the MIT Personnel Policy Manual Section 4.5 Leaves Provided Under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.)

The granting of unpaid leaves of absence requires an assurance of reemployment by the department upon the termination of the leave, unless specifically authorized otherwise by the Vice President for Human Resources, or unless the position has been eliminated by reduction in the work force or operational change under circumstances applying equally to other similar jobs in the department.

7.5.6 Parental Leaves of Absence without Pay

Regular full-time and part-time persons, regardless of gender, who work at least 50 percent of a normal work week and who have completed their probationary periods are eligible for parental leave of absence without pay at the time of the birth or adoption of a child or placement with the employee of a child for foster care, subject to the conditions of this policy. (Faculty members should also see Sections 7.5.2 Other Leaves for the Faculty and 7.5.3 Faculty Teaching Relief.)

A parental leave of absence without pay up to 12 weeks will be granted, provided the person gives reasonable notice (at least two weeks) and indicates intention to return to work following the leave period by completing a leave of absence form with the proper authorizations. Extension of the parental leave period will require further approval and will be reviewed in accordance with the specific circumstances of the request and general Institute policy on leave without pay.

Most Institute benefits may be continued, at the option of the individual, provided arrangements are made in advance for payment of the normal benefit deductions. Health insurance benefits must be kept in force during the period or specifically waived in writing. Contributions to the MIT Retirement Plan and tax-deferred annuity plans are not allowed during periods of leave without pay.

An individual may elect to use earned vacation or personal leave balances in lieu of leave without pay within the total approved leave period.

An individual's job or a job of equivalent classification and pay will be restored by the department or laboratory at the completion of the leave unless the position has been eliminated by reduction in the work force or operational change under circumstances applying equally to other similar jobs in the department.

Return from leave should be at the same work-week schedule at which the individual was working when he or she left. A supervisor may agree, however, to have a full-time employee return on a part-time schedule if it is mutually convenient; if so, the new schedule must be at least 50 percent of a normal work week.

Under regular MIT sick leave and disability leave policies, disabilities associated with pregnancy, birth, miscarriage, or abortion will be treated like any health or temporary disability. (See the MIT Personnel Policy Manual Section 4.5 Leaves Provided Under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.)

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