Chapter 13. Leaves of Absence

A faculty on a leave of absence continues to hold his or her faculty appointment and to be an employee of the University. The employment relationship between the faculty member and the University is not severed during a leave of absence: a faculty member on leave is eligible for certain benefits and services, and is expected to comply with all University policies and relevant expectations. Depending on the designation and the duration of the leave, the faculty member may continue health and dental coverage by paying the active employee premiums; contributions to the University’s retirement plans are based on actual salary received from Brown.

Leaves, whether paid (sabbatical, leaves on special assignment, scholarly leave, or leave with "top-up") or unpaid (leaves of absence), may be taken for a semester or a year. Only in exceptional cases may a leave be extended beyond a single year; under no circumstances may it extend beyond two years. If a faculty member on leave with support from Brown (whether salary or top-up) requests a second year of leave, it will be granted only with the understanding that no support from Brown will be given.

Faculty members are expected to teach for at least four semesters between any two leaves, and no more than four semesters of leave of any kind is ordinarily possibly during a seven year period.

Applications for sabbatical leaves and for leaves of absence without pay for the following academic year, or any part thereof, should be sent to the Chair of the faculty member's department by the first week of January; they should be forwarded to the appropriate divisional Dean by mid-January. All leave requests should be discussed with the department Chair, who will review applications in the context of departmental needs. Each application for sabbatical leave should specify whether the leave is intended to be for one semester or a full year. Per rules of the Corporation, it should also state briefly how the leave will be spent. Under no circumstances will faculty members be granted leaves of absence from Brown University for more than two consecutive years. Follow this link for leave application form. The BioMed Faculty Leave Application Form can be found at

Opportunity for taking sabbatical or scholarly leave at regular intervals is not absolutely guaranteed by the University. Such leaves may be denied or postponed if the faculty member's performance has been substandard or if the timing of the leave jeopardizes the integrity of the department's curriculum. Department Chairs are expected to arrange timing of leaves in such a way as to ensure the integrity of the curriculum of the department. It is nevertheless the case that it is generally not possible to appoint replacements for faculty on full salary sabbatical or scholarly leave. Temporary teaching funds are provided for faculty on unpaid leave or partial-salary sabbatical.

13.1 Sabbatical Leave

Sabbatical leave is granted only to regular faculty of professorial rank, and such officers of the University as the President may nominate. It is granted in recognition of notable service through teaching and scholarly contributions and as aid and inspiration to further achievement. Tenured faculty are eligible for sabbatical leave under the terms of the policy which became effective in July 2008. Tenure-track faculty may be awarded junior faculty sabbaticals (see below).

As established by the Corporation, sabbatical leave is “intended to provide teachers with opportunities for scholarly development and contacts which shall contribute to their professional effectiveness and to the value of their later services to Brown University. It is not intended that such leave shall be used primarily for purposes of rest and recuperation." Sabbaticals are viewed as an investment in the faculty member's future professional contributions to the University. Accordingly, a sabbatical may not be taken during the year prior to a faculty member's retirement or resignation. Faculty members who do leave the employment of the University immediately after a sabbatical may be required to reimburse the University for compensation (salary and benefits) received during the leave.

Under the 2008 sabbatical policy applying to tenured faculty, a faculty member is eligible to request a sabbatical leave of absence for one semester at seventy five percent of the usual semester salary following six semesters in residence. If that leave is not taken, the faculty member may instead continue teaching for an additional six semesters (twelve semesters total), after which time the sabbatical leave may be for either an entire academic year (two semesters) at three-quarters of the academic year salary, or for only one semester at full salary.

To help avail themselves of fellowships that only provide partial salary, faculty may request to advance or delay a sabbatical by up to one year (two semesters) without affecting the timing of the next one. This flexibility with the sabbatical schedule should be used whenever possible to combine such awards with sabbatical leaves. If external funds are used to cover part of the sabbatical salary that would otherwise have been paid by Brown, the faculty member will receive a research fund equal to 70% of the salary savings.

Any postponement of a sabbatical leave for more than two semesters will ordinarily affect the timing of the next sabbatical. Only when postponement is requested for reasons which are mutually beneficial to the department or University and to the faculty member will the required period of service between sabbaticals be adjusted. In those cases where exceptions have been granted, the appropriate divisional Dean will specifically note his/her approval in the letter granting the leave.

It is presumed that a member of the Faculty or an officer on sabbatical leave is not receiving compensation for services in another institution or organization. Faculty on unpaid or partial-salary leave who are considering whether to accept compensation while on leave should consult with the Dean and secure approval for any non-Brown compensation. Faculty are expected to return to Brown (for at least a year) following sabbatical leave.

13.1.1 Junior Faculty Sabbatical

A special program of sabbatical leaves exists for non-tenured faculty (i.e., "junior sabbaticals.") Recommendations for such leaves should be made by chairs to the appropriate divisional Dean and be accompanied by a sabbatical plan as described above. Junior faculty may request one semester of paid leave, or they may request a year’s leave at half salary, or combine this year’s leave with internal support (e.g. Wriston fellowship) or external support (grant or fellowship, possibly with top-up), to have the full year for research. Junior sabbaticals are normally taken in the third or fourth year.

Untenured faculty are expected to teach for a minimum of three semesters between any two leaves. Because leaves decrease teaching time, department chairs should advise untenured colleagues about the importance of establishing a good teaching record as well as an active research program.

13.1.2 Post-Tenure Sabbatical

Faculty promoted to Associate Professor with tenure are eligible to apply for a post-tenure sabbatical. The post- tenure sabbatical will normally be requested in the year after tenure has been granted and taken in the following year. The sabbatical may be taken as a semester at full salary or a year at 75 percent of salary. While the post-tenure sabbatical may be delayed for up to two semesters without affecting the timing of future leaves, it may not normally be taken early. The clock for regular sabbaticals starts in the second year after tenure, excluding any semesters that a faculty member is on leave.

13.2 Salary Supplement during Leave (“Top-up”)

Faculty who have a paid leave from Brown for a semester and would like to extend it are encouraged to find outside support for a second semester. If a year-long prestigious fellowship combined with a one-semester sabbatical doesn’t cover full salary, funds to “top up” the award are available, up to a maximum of 50% of one semester’s salary. There is one exception to this policy; faculty receiving Guggenheim Fellowships will be eligible for up to 50% of a year’s salary as a top-up.

Faculty members may also request top-up funds if an outside fellowship has been received at a time when a regular sabbatical is not due. In such cases, the Dean may make arrangements to adjust the timing of the next sabbatical, or may provide a supplement, in order to permit the faculty member to make use of the fellowship opportunity.

Top-ups will not be provided during a sabbatical semester (even if the sabbatical covers only partial salary).

13.3 Scholarly Leave

Scholarly leave may be granted to Lecturers and Senior Lecturers. Again, according to the Corporation, the purpose is "to enhance scholarship and/or teaching through a plan of study, research, or other appropriate activity as approved by the Dean of the Faculty.”

Lecturers and Senior Lecturers who are regular faculty members are eligible for scholarly leave (one semester at full salary) following twelve semesters of full-time teaching. Those with contingent appointments are not eligible for scholarly leave.

13.4 Leave on Special Assignment

"Leaves on Special Assignment" are defined as leaves with salary from the University. Such leaves in which the source of funds is the instructional budget are rare and must be arranged directly with the appropriate divisional Dean.

A Leave on Special Assignment is viewed as an investment in the faculty member's future professional contributions to the University. Accordingly, a Leave on Special Assignment may not ordinarily be taken during the semester prior to a faculty member's retirement or contract expiration date. Faculty members who do leave the employment of the University immediately after a Leave on Special Assignment may be required to reimburse the University for compensation (salary and benefits) received during the leave.

In other cases, faculty may be receiving salary support from grants and contracts which are administered by the University. Depending on circumstances, such leaves may be designated as Leave on Special Assignment or as Leave of Absence.

13.5 Leave of Absence

A leave of absence is without regular salary from Brown.

13.6 Illness and Medically Defined Disability

All University employees are covered by the Family Medical Leave Act and by relevant Rhode Island laws. Details regarding terms and eligibility may be obtained from the Human Resources Office.

Regular faculty who must be absent for illness or other disability retain their salaries from the University for up to six months, or until the time that they may be eligible for long-term disability payments under the University's insurance 
plan, if that is sooner. The period of such medical leaves will, where possible, coincide with the dates of the fall (July 1–December 31) or spring (January 1–June 30) semester.

In order for a medical leave to be granted, the faculty member’s physician should provide documentation attesting to the need for the leave; returning from a medical leave also normally requires supporting documentation. No more than one six-month medical leave will ordinarily be granted within a two-year period.

No extension of a paid medical leave beyond this maximum six-month period should be anticipated, and any faculty member whose medical condition is likely to persist beyond that period is advised to consult with the Benefits Office regarding initiating an application for long-term disability insurance.

During any University-paid disability leave, the department is expected to arrange for coverage of the faculty member's responsibilities without recourse to making new appointments to the faculty.

Note: in the case of an untenured faculty member, personal leaves (including medical) are not counted as part of the probationary period.

In cases in which the faculty member is supported by grants or contracts, the duration of the medical leave will vary according to medical need as determined by the physician, but should not exceed six months. Salary while on medical leave continues to be paid from these sources, in proportion to effort and subject to the availability of funding.

13.6.1 Parental Leave

Non-regular Faculty on a multi-year contract, who have been at Brown continuously for at least a year, who become natural or adoptive parents and are the primary caregiver of a newborn or newly adopted child are eligible for six weeks’ leave with salary.  In cases in which the faculty member is supported by grants or contracts, the salary while on maternity leave continues to be paid from these sources, in proportion to effort and subject to the availability of funding.

Regular faculty members are eligible for Parental Teaching Relief in lieu of parental leave. See below, 13.7.

13.6.2 Unpaid Personal Leave

Faculty may be eligible for unpaid family and medical leaves under federal and state law due to personal illness or disability; childbirth and/or care of the employee’s newborn; placement and/or care of a newly adopted or foster child; or care of a spouse, same-sex domestic partner, child, or parent with a serious health condition.

Federal and state law provide for up to 12 weeks of leave during a 12-month period (FMLA) or 13 weeks of leave during a 24-month period (RIPFML). If an employee is entitled to a leave benefit under both federal (FMLA) and state laws, the leave periods will be served concurrently. To be eligible, the employee must have been employed for 12 months and worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 month period immediately preceding the leave.

Please contact the Benefits Office for further information.

13.7 Parental Teaching Relief

Brown University provides one semester of classroom teaching relief for faculty members who are primary caregivers for newborn children or newly adopted children. This is not considered to be a leave, and the faculty member's responsibilities to conduct research, advise students, and participate in University and departmental affairs remain unchanged. This policy is intended to provide sufficient time to faculty members coping with the demands of being primary caregiver to an infant or newly adopted child. See Chapter 7.8.3.

13.8 Benefits During Leave

During sabbatical leave, benefits and salary, though not charged to the department, do continue as for other active faculty. During other leaves, the University’s usual contributions to medical and dental premiums continue, with the faculty member responsible for making arrangements to pay his or her premiums. If the insurance is to be canceled during leave, the Benefits Office should be notified of both cancellation and reinstatement. For paid disability and parental leaves the University continues to pay those portions of health, dental, life insurance, and disability insurance for which the faculty member is ordinarily eligible. Contributions to retirement accounts are based on actual salary received from Brown.

For questions concerning benefits while on leave, faculty should contact the Benefits Office or the Office of the appropriate divisional Dean.