Policy Number: 205

Policy Suffix:

I. General Policy

The university provides for faculty leave for faculty to address family and personal medical situations in keeping with federal and state laws. The policy is intended to cover temporary leaves where the faculty member intends to return as a fully engaged member of the Rice community.

This policy governs leaves for non-tenure track faculty members (NTTs). This policy generally outlines the length of time, frequency and compensation associated with both paid and unpaid leaves of absence for NTTs. This policy is separate and distinct from the policies that govern leave for tenured faculty, tenure-track faculty and staff.

II. Roles and Responsibilities

Human Resources – The Office is responsible for establishing the process for requesting leave. They also make initial determinations of faculty eligibility for particular types of leave covered under this policy.

Vice Provost of Academic Affairs (VPAA) Office – The VPAA office is primarily responsible for approving faculty leaves. If a faculty member wishes to appeal any decision made by Human Resources with respect to a requested leave; such decisions are appealable to the VPAA office where a final decision can be rendered.

Deans and Department Chairs – Deans and Department Chairs are responsible for managing instruction workload during leaves of absence of Instructional Faculty. Deans and Department Chairs are also responsible for ensuring that paid leaves of absence under this policy are appropriately funded. Typically, these leaves of absence are paid from whatever funding source pays the NTT faculty member’s salary. However, if an NTT faculty member’s salary is paid, in part or in full, by an external grant or sponsored research fund that does not pay for leaves of absence, the Dean and Department Chair is responsible for finding an appropriate funding source to pay leaves of absence under this policy.

III. Definitions

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – This is a federal regulation that requires certain employers to provide access to unpaid leaves for employees.

Instructional Faculty – Instructional faculty are non-tenure track faculty members with the primary job function of teaching and/or academic advising. Such faculty are generally on nine-month annual appointment. This designation does not include support staff or graduate students (e.g. teaching assistants, graduate assistants, postdocs, etc.).

Non-Tenure Track Faculty (NTTs) – These faculty members are all faculty who hold positions without tenure and without the possibility of attaining tenure. The NTT faculty ranks are all faculty who are not either Assistant Professors, Associate Professor, or Full Professors.

Primary Caregiver – The person in a household who has primary responsibility in terms of time and commitment for the active care, custody, and welfare of a child.

Research/Service Faculty – Research/service faculty are non-tenure track faculty members whose primary job function does not include teaching or academic advising, and is typically research. Such faculty are generally on twelve-month contracts. This designation does not include support staff or graduate students who work in research settings (e.g. research scientists, lab techs, postdocs, etc.)

IV. Elaboration of Policy

A. Family Leaves

Family leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for non-tenure track faculty may be granted for a period of up to 12 weeks during a 12-month period. Depending on the type of faculty appointment, the University may either use the individual’s current anniversary date of hire in a benefits-eligible status or the fiscal year of July 1 through June 30 to calculate the 12-month period. Such faculty are eligible for family leave if they have been employed by the University for at least one year as of the date of the family leave and meet the federal requirements for FMLA eligibility.

Family leave is unpaid leave and is granted upon request with appropriate documentation for any of the following situations: the birth of a child of the faculty member; the placement of a child with the faculty member for adoption or foster care; a serious health condition that makes the faculty member unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job; or in order to care for a spouse, child, domestic partner or parent with a serious health condition; and the extension of a medical leave in which case the 12-week limit may be applied to the entire period of absence.

A non-tenure track faculty member using family leave may return to his or her position held before the leave was taken or be placed in a position with the same benefits eligibility, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment as in place before the leave. Any benefits accrued under Rice policies and approved prior to the leave are not forfeited. Any paid leave (such as primary caregiver leave or short-term disability) under this policy that also qualifies as family leave shall count toward the 12-week annual leave allotment. If the husband and wife or both domestic partners are employed by the University and both are eligible for family leave due to birth of a child, the placement of a child with the individuals for adoption or foster care, or in order to care for a parent with a serious health condition, the two individuals are limited to a combined total of 12 weeks of family leave during each annual period for any single occurrence/illness.

B. Primary Caregiver Leave

The primary caregiver leave policy covers the following categories: 1) birth parent; 2) adoptive parent of a child under the age of one year old; or 3) spouse or domestic partner of the birth parent. An eligible full-time non-tenure track faculty member in one of these categories and who is also the child’s primary caregiver, will be entitled to primary caregiver leave at full pay. During the primary caregiver leave, the faculty member will be free of teaching, research, and administrative responsibilities. The time covered by this leave will be chosen at the discretion of the faculty member, as long as the leave is completed by the end of the second full fall/spring semester after the birth or adoption event and the leave is only applied to a semester or time that the faculty member was contracted to work for Rice University (e.g. faculty on nine (9) month contracts cannot use primary caregiver leave to collect summer pay). There shall be only one primary caregiver leave entitlement per child and it may not be divided between parents or in time taken.

The primary caregiver is the person in the household who has primary responsibility in terms of time and commitment for the active care, custody, and welfare of the child. A non-tenure track faculty member applying for primary caregiver leave must complete a signed and notarized affidavit with Human Resources certifying that they are the primary caregiver and supply supporting documentation if requested.

For positions that require promotion to maintain employment at Rice University (e.g. assistant teaching professors and assistant research professors), the faculty member may request an extension on the promotion clock and contract terms. Such requests should be made to the Vice Provost of Academic Affairs no later than thirty days after returning from primary caregiver leave; if granted, the clock and contract will be extended by one year. Such faculty members granted extensions as a result of primary caregiver leave may receive a maximum of two promotion clock extensions for each rank and a maximum of two contract extensions for each contract (e.g. original contract, promotion contract and contract renewal).

A non-tenure track faculty member planning to take a primary caregiver leave under this plan should inform their Department Chair (or Director when applicable) and Dean in writing (with a copy to the Vice Provost of Academic Affairs), ordinarily at least three months before the expected start of the leave and in all cases no later than 30 days before the start of the leave. Failure to provide timely notice may result in a denial of the primary caregiver leave. Faculty members working on and paid by externally-funded grants or contracts, will normally arrange no-cost extensions of grants where possible during the period of the primary caregiver leave. If a faculty member does not wish to be released from the obligations of a grant or contract, the faculty member may nonetheless be relieved from other administrative or teaching duties in conformity with the primary caregiver leave policy.

If such a faculty member is eligible for primary caregiver leave under their primary appointment and also eligible for primary caregiver leave under one or more supplemental appointments, all such primary caregiver leaves must be applied for and taken concurrently. If the primary caregiver leaves are different lengths of time for each appointment, the faculty member may be required to return to certain job functions for the shorter leave time prior to the longer leave time expiring. If the non-tenure track faculty member does not want to return to job functions for the shorter leave time, the faculty member may take an unpaid leave from the position with a shorter leave time until the longer primary caregiver leave expires. When taking primary caregiver leave for multiple appointments, the leaves must be scheduled concurrently and cannot be staggered.

If the non-tenure track faculty member is eligible for primary caregiver leave under one appointment (typically their primary appointment) and has one or more other/supplemental appointments that do not qualify for primary caregiver leave, the faculty member may still utilize their primary caregiver leave. Once approved for primary caregiver leave, the faculty member will receive full pay for the appointment(s) that are eligible for primary caregiver leave, and may, at the faculty member’s sole discretion, elect to work at their other non-eligible appointments during the primary caregiver leave or take an unpaid leave from their appointments that are not eligible for primary caregiver leave.

C. Primary Caregiver Leaves for Instructional Faculty

Instructional faculty members who are eligible for primary caregiver leave may apply for up to one semester of primary caregiver leave per child. When requesting leave, the instructional faculty members engaged in research are responsible for notifying relevant granting agencies/organizations, any research supervisors, Sponsored Research & Research Compliance (SPARC) and Research and Cost Accounting (RCA).

In order for an instructional faculty member to be considered eligible for primary caregiver leave, an instructional faculty member must be a full-time faculty member, on an annual contract (i.e. teaching fall and spring semesters of each year) who at the start time of the requested leave:

  1. Has had at least four (4) consecutive fall/spring semesters (e.g. two (2) academic years) of prior employment as a faculty member with the University; or
  2. Be currently employed under a contract that has a term of at least four (4) years; or
  3. Be employed fulltime in one of Rice University’s teaching professor ranks at the assistant, associate, or full level.

D. Primary Caregiver Leaves For Research/Service Faculty

Research/service faculty members who are eligible for primary caregiver leave may apply for up to eight (8) weeks of primary caregiver leave per child. When requesting leave, the research/service faculty member is responsible for notifying relevant granting agencies/organizations and any research supervisors and SPARC and RCA
In order for a research/service faculty member to be considered eligible for primary caregiver leave, a research/service faculty member must be a full-time faculty member who at the start time of the requested leave:

  1. Has had at least twenty-four (24) months of continuous, prior employment with the University; or
  2. Be currently employed under a contract that has a term of at least four (4) years; or
  3. Be employed fulltime in one of Rice University’s research professor ranks at the assistant, associate, or full level.

E. Medical Leaves

Benefits-eligible non-tenure track faculty members may request personal medical leaves for any medical reason, including pregnancy, for any period of time that the faculty member is unable to work as determined by his or her physician. The faculty member or Department Chair may request such a leave. The leave request with appropriate documentation, including a physician's statement, should be processed through the Department Chair, the Dean and the Provost for approval, and to the Associate Vice President of Human Resources for processing.

In the case of pregnancy and childbirth, if the birth parent is also the child's primary caregiver, the faculty member will also be eligible for the primary caregiver leave (see above).

Non-tenure track faculty on medical leave, including pregnancy and childbirth not covered by primary caregiver leave, may receive up to 50 percent of their annual salary based on the length of their leave, after which continuing disability payment at partial salary may be requested and approved under the University's long-term disability program. Faculty are expected to apply through their departments to Human Resources for short-term disability leave benefits, where appropriate, to pay for salary continuation.

F. Teaching Assignments Affected by Family, Primary Caregiver, and Medical Leaves

When reasonable and possible, faculty members that anticipate taking a leave from teaching assignments should inform their Dean and Department Chair with enough advanced notice to find suitable coverage for their classes and/or remove their classes from the course offering during their leave.

Primary Caregiver Leave - While non-tenure track faculty seeking primary caregiver leave are expected to provide adequate notice to the Department Chair and the Dean prior to the expected start of the leave, such faculty approved for primary caregiver leave will not be responsible for finding replacements for courses they normally teach, nor will they be required subsequently to compensate for teaching release granted as part of the primary caregiver leave. Faculty will be expected to cooperate fully with the Department Chair and Dean to identify ways to meet curricular and departmental needs and issues that may arise due to the primary caregiver leave.

Family Leave & Medical Leave - Faculty on family leave or medical leave during the academic semester will make a reasonable effort to work out suitable ways for coverage of their teaching assignments with Department Chairs and the appropriate Dean. If it is anticipated that the length of family or medical leaves will be such that students will be unable to complete the courses offered by the faculty member on leave, a Department Chair may relieve the faculty member from teaching for an entire semester and find acceptable substitutes. If a faculty member on extended family or medical leave who has been relieved from teaching is able to return to work full time during a semester, the Department Chair may assign other duties to compensate for the lack of teaching duties; if the faculty member prefers not to assume such duties, the Department Chair may recommend an adjustment of the faculty member’s salary to the Dean who may adjust the faculty member’s salary based on the reduced effort.

G. Extension of Contract Affected by Family, Primary Caregiver, and Medical Leaves

Upon written request to the Vice Provost of Academic Affairs, the contract terms and promotion clock (for positions that require promotion to maintain employment) of a full-time non-tenure track faculty member who has taken a primary caregiver leave will be extended by one year. The maximum number of extensions per contract that such a faculty member may receive for primary caregiver leave is two. Also, the maximum number of extensions to the promotion clock for each rank a faculty member may receive for primary caregiver leave is two. The contract of a faculty member who has taken a medical or family leave of fewer than 120 days during a summer or semester will be extended for one semester for each such leave, for a maximum extension of one year per contract. Upon written request to the Provost, the contract and promotion clock of a faculty member who has taken a significant medical or family leave of 120 days or more in any twelve-month-period will be extended by one year.

A non-tenure track faculty member who is eligible to request primary caregiver, family, or medical leave but elects not to do so, may, at the time they are eligible for the leave, request a contract extension equivalent to that which the leave would have provided. The extension will not be granted retroactively; it must be requested and approved at the time of the primary caregiver, family, or medical leave.

A combination of contract extensions and renewals will have the effect of extending the 6-year limitation on service at the rank of assistant teaching professor and assistant research professor.

V. Cross Reference to Related Policies

Policy 417 - Family/Medical Leaves
Policy 420, Personal Leaves
Policy 423, Short-Term Disability Pay Continuation
Policy 407, Workers' Compensation

VI. Responsible Official and Key Offices to Contact Regarding the Policy and its Implementation

Responsible Official: Vice Provost of Academic Affairs

Other Key Offices: Human Resources; Vice President for Finance and Administration

VII. Procedures and Forms

Procedures for Family/Medical Leave

Signatures

Reginald DesRoches, President

Policy History

Issued

November 29, 2022