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. This 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

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.

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.

III. Definitions

Birth/Adoption Event – This is the birth, adoption, or fostering with the intention of adoption (provided that fostering is a statutorily mandated pre-requisite to adoption) of one or more children. Any birth/adoption event that take place within three months of one or more other birth/adoption events is considered one birth/adoption event.

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 NTT 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.). Examples of Instructional faculty include Instructors, Lectures, and Teaching Professors.

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.

Paid Parental Leave (PPL) – Is a form of paid leave granted to an eligible faculty member as a result of a birth/adoption event.

Research/Service Faculty – Research/service faculty are NTT 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.). Examples of Research/Service Faculty are Research Professors and Professors in the Practice that are not hired to teach.

IV. Elaboration of Policy

A. Family Leaves

Family leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for NTT 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 their job; 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.

An NTT faculty member using family leave may return to their 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 medical leave (such as paid parental leave or short-term disability) 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 care for a child or 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 (this limitation excludes Birth/Adoption Events).

B. Paid Parental Leave

The paid parental leave (“PPL”) policy covers the following categories: 1) birth parent; 2) adoptive parent of a child under the age of eighteen years old (excluding the children of spouses); 3) spouse or domestic partner of the birth parent; and 4) having a foster child placed in your home if you intend to adopt the child. This only applies when fostering the child is a requirement for adoption (any other placement of foster children does not apply). Note, however, PPL shall not be granted for the adoption of a stepchild by a stepparent.

An eligible full-time NTT faculty member in one of these categories, will be entitled to PPL at full pay. During the PPL, the faculty member will be free of teaching, research, and administrative responsibilities. The faculty member may choose when to begin PPL, as long as the leave is completed by the end of the second full fall/spring semester after the birth/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 PPL to collect summer pay). There shall be only one PPL entitlement per faculty member per birth/adoption event. Multiple births or adoptions (e.g., the birth of twins or simultaneous adoption of siblings) constitute one birth/adoption event and do not increase the total PPL granted for that birth or adoption.

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 PPL; if granted, the clock and contract will be extended by one year. Such faculty members granted extensions as a result of PPL 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).

When reasonably possible, a faculty member planning to take a PPL 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, or as soon as practical if less than that. Failure to provide timely notice may result in a denial of the PPL. Note, however, that due to the unpredictability of adoption and birth timelines, a faculty member may meet this notice requirement by giving notice of an anticipated adoption or birth even when the exact dates are unknown.

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 PPL. 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 PPL policy.

If such a faculty member is eligible for PPL under their primary appointment and also eligible for PPL under one or more supplemental appointments, all such PPLs must be applied for and taken concurrently and cannot be staggered. If the PPLs 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 NTT 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 PPL expires.

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

C. Paid Parental Leaves for Instructional Faculty

Instructional faculty members who are eligible for PPL may apply for up to one semester of PPL per birth/adoption event. Their PPL may not be divided and must be taken all at once. 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 PPL, 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.
  4. Paid Parental Leaves For Research/Service Faculty

Research/service faculty members who are eligible for PPL may apply for up to eight (8) weeks of PPL per birth/adoption event. Their PPL may be divided and taken in two week increments. 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 PPL, 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 NTT 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 their 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 faculty who undergo pregnancy and childbirth, the faculty member will also be eligible for the PPL (see above).

NTT faculty on medical leave, including pregnancy and childbirth not covered by PPL, may receive up to 50 percent of their annual salary based on the length of their leave under short-term disability, 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.

PPL - While NTT faculty seeking PPL 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 PPL 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 PPL. 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 PPL.

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 NTT faculty member who has taken a PPL may be extended by up to one year. The maximum number of extensions per contract that such a faculty member may receive for PPL is two. Also, the maximum number of extensions to the promotion clock for each rank a faculty member may receive for PPL is two. The contract of a faculty member who has taken approved medical or family leave of fewer than 120 days during a summer or semester may 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 approved medical or family leave of 120 days or more in any twelve-month-period may be extended by one year.

An NTT faculty member who is eligible to request paid parental, 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.

Extensions to the promotion clock or contract length will not be granted retroactively; it must be requested and approved at the time of the paid parental, family, or medical leave or no later than thirty (30) days after the leave ends.

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 201 - Faculty Appointments, Promotions and Tenure
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

Revised

May 30, 2024

Clerical Changes

January 31, 2023
March 4, 2024