C.20. Leaves of Absence (nonacademic)

Leaves for the purpose of research are described in a separate section.

Leaves of Absence and Leave Pay Options (nonacademic)

During the course of their careers faculty members may need extended time off for reasons such as a new baby, to care for an ailing family member, for one’s own medical condition, or for personal reasons. Middlebury provides a number of generous paid leave options - as well as unpaid options -to support benefits-eligible faculty during such life events. As described below, special income benefits are available for new parents (paid parental time) and for faculty members prevented from working by illness or injury (short-term disability and long-term disability). In addition, faculty accrue Faculty Leave Reserve (FLR)  which can be used for a variety of purposes such as to provide pay when a leave is needed to care for a family member or to supplement partial pay received under one of the special paid leave benefits.

Notes:

Any faculty member on ongoing appointment is eligible to apply for leave in order to meet familial responsibilities. Normally, only one year of familial leave will be allowed outside the regular scheduling of reviews for reappointment, promotion, and tenure.  The College will do its best to honor leave requests, but it is incumbent upon the individual wishing such a leave to apply early enough so that the department affected may have time to plan for a replacement or make other arrangements to cover classes.

When reviewing this section of the handbook it is important to keep in mind the distinction between a leave of absence and pay.  A leave of absence is simply approval to be relieved of work duties for a period of time and is, by default, unpaid time.  However Middlebury offers a number of benefits that can be used to provide a faculty member with pay during an approved leave of absence. Therefore there is a two-part determination when a faculty member requests paid time off. First, a decision by the Dean of Faculty/VPAA as to whether (and to what extent) the individual is entitled to be released from work, and second a decision – which, depending on the benefit under consideration can fall under the purview of the Dean of Faculty/VPAA, Human Resources, or one of Middlebury’s insurance carriers - as to whether the faculty member is entitled to pay and/or continuation of benefits while relieved of duties.

Family and Medical Leave Act

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and similar state leave laws entitle eligible faculty members to unpaid leaves of absence for: the foster placement, birth or adoption of a child; care of self or certain family member(s) with a serious health condition; certain exigencies arising from a family member’s call to active military duty; or to care for a family member injured while on active military duty. (See the Employee Benefits chapter in the Employee Handbook or contact Human Resources for more information.)  While the federal law provides for a period of unpaid, job-protected leave, as explained below Middlebury has a several benefit programs and policies that provide for pay during certain FMLA-qualifying leaves.

Faculty Leave Reserve (FLR) Pay

Effective July 1, 2017 each benefits-eligible faculty member has a Faculty Leave Reserve (FLR) account; accrued FLR hours can be accessed to provide paid time off for a variety of needs.  Faculty accrue 1.54 hours of FLR time each pay period, which results in the addition of one week (40 hours) of FLR time per year of full-time work (accruals are pro-rated for part-time work, except that during FMLA leaves and sabbaticals accruals are not reduced.)  Faculty members hired prior to July 1, 2017 were credited with a beginning balance of one week of FLR for each week of full-time service up to that date.  

Accrued FLR can be utilized for the following reasons:

  • Pre- and post-parental-leave portion of semesters for new parents, should they wish to remain fully on leave instead of resuming non-teaching responsibilities.
  • To augment the 60% pay received from either the short-term or long-term disability benefit plans and thus remain at full salary.
  • Pre- or post-disability portions of semesters when a faculty member has no active disability, arrangements are in place for someone else to cover teaching, and full-time nonteaching duties are not available.
  • Any sort of family leave that would qualify as FMLA time.
  • Any reason that would qualify under the Vermont Earned Sick Time1 law.

Faculty members wishing to utilize FLR pay will coordinate the request for time off with the Dean of Faculty/VPAA and then work with Disability/Leave Specialist in Human Resources who will adjust the FLR balances to reflect time used.  Faculty members with five or fewer years of service may be allowed, at the discretion of the Dean of Faculty/VPAA, to go into a negative FLR balance should needs arise that otherwise qualify for FLR but for which a sufficient balance has not accrued.  In no event will the new faculty member be able to have a negative balance of more than 200 hours.

Faculty members out on leave who have exhausted their FLR balances (except for certain new faculty, as described above) will be unpaid unless they qualify for short-term or long-term disability, in which case they will be partially paid, typically at 60% of their base salary.

At retirement any accrued, unused FLR time will convert to College-paid medical and dental coverage, as described in the Middlebury College Health and Welfare Summary Plan Description.  There is no option to cash-out FLR under any circumstances or to use it for any purpose not specifically covered by the policy. 

1The Faculty Leave Reserve Policy complies with the Vermont Earned Sick Leave Law, 21 V.S.A.&& 481-486 which requires limited paid time away from work for: physical or mental illness, preventative care, or to arrange services related to domestic violence or sexual assault.  Time can be for the employee’s own need or the needs of: a parent, spouse, child, sibling, parent-in-law, grandchild or foster child. 

Parental Leaves/Parental Pay

Introduction

Middlebury recognizes the critical importance of bonding time during the period following the birth or adoption of a child. While the federal Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees up to 12 weeks of leave, FMLA is unpaid.  In order to provide financial support for faculty members who are welcoming new children to their families Middlebury has several options for paid time, which can be used in conjunction with FMLA time.  Available options include: Paid Parental Time, Faculty Leave Reserve, course releases, and – for birth mothers - Short-Term Disability Pay.

Paid Parental Time Eligibility

Paid Parental Time is available to benefits-eligible faculty members while serving as the primary caregiver for a period of time during the first 12 months following the birth or adoption of a child. The definition of ‘primary care-giver’ will vary across family situations, but typically means that throughout the period of Paid Parental Time the parent has principal responsibility for the child for a significant portion of each work day during the work week.  In the case of adoptions the benefit applies only when the child being adopted is less than 18 years of age.

Paid Parental Time Benefit

The amount and timing of Faculty Paid Parental Time will vary depending on whether or not the individual applying for the benefit is scheduled to teach during the leave/pay period and whether or not both parents are employees of Middlebury College. The most common scenarios are described below.  When situations arise which do not fall into one of these categories, and when unexpected complexities arise, the Dean of Faculty/VPAA, in his or her sole discretion, will decide to what extent to adapt the Paid Parental Time benefit.

Primary Caregiver Scheduled to Teach

When a child is expected to be born or adopted during a semester in which the parent is scheduled to teach, the faculty member will be relieved of teaching duties for the entire semester.  Specifically:

When the parent/faculty member is not also the birth mother:

  • During the first 6 weeks post-birth/adoption a faculty member who is not also a birth mother will not be expected to perform any duties, and will receive full salary.
  • For the remainder of the semester the faculty member can elect to:
  1. Continue or resume non-teaching duties such as committee work, administrative work, academic advising, and supervision of senior work, in which case he or she will continue to receive full pay, OR
  2. If the faculty member is eligible under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) he or she can elect to continue leave with no duties generally for up to an additional 6 weeks (contact Human Resources for details), in which case he or she can:

a)    Use accrued Faculty Leave Reserve to maintain pay, OR

b)    Be placed on unpaid leave with benefits.

When the parent/faculty member is the birth mother:

  • During the post-birth period the birth mother is eligible for 6 weeks Paid Parental Time (paid at 100% pay) PLUS a period (typically 4 to 6 weeks) of Short-term Disability Pay (at 60% pay) during which time she will not be expected to perform any duties.  A faculty member can opt to “supplement” the 60% STD pay with accrued FLR pay to receive up to full salary during the disability portion of the leave.
  • For the remainder of the semester the faculty member can elect to:
  1. Continue or resume non-teaching duties such as committee work, administrative work, academic advising, and supervision of senior work, in which case he or she will continue to receive full pay, OR
  2. If the faculty member is eligible under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) he or she can elect to continue leave with no duties generally for up to an additional 6 weeks (contact Human Resources for details), in which case he or she can:

a)    Use accrued Faculty Leave Reserve to maintain pay, OR

b)    Be placed on unpaid leave with benefits.

The following guidelines should be used to determine which semester(s) faculty may be released from teaching duties in the event of a birth or adoption under the policy for faculty scheduled to teach:

For birth or adoption that is expected to occur:

Semester(s) released from teaching:

October 1 - November 30

Fall & Winter Term

December 1 – January 31

Winter Term & Spring

February 1 – May 15

Spring

May 16 – September 30

Fall

Primary Caregiver NOT Scheduled to Teach

If the faculty member is not scheduled to teach by reason of academic leave, administrative appointment, or other reason, he or she will be eligible for up to 6 weeks of Paid Parental Time after the birth or adoption, assuming he or she will be the primary caregiver during this period.  If the faculty member is eligible under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) he or she can elect to continue leave with no duties generally for up to an additional 6 weeks (contact Human Resources for details), in which case he or she would be placed on unpaid leave with benefits, OR can opt to use Faculty Leave Reserve to maintain paid status.  Birth mothers will also be eligible for an additional period of Short-Term Disability pay.

Both Parents Employed by Middlebury College

Two-Faculty Couples: In situations in which both parents are Middlebury faculty, and both are eligible under the College’s Paid Parental Time policy, the faculty members will allocate between themselves, in consultation with the Dean of Faculty/VPAA, a maximum of 12 weeks of Paid Parental Time. This means, in situations in which one parent receives a full-semester of paid leave, the other parent will not be eligible for Paid Parental Time. However, in this case the parent receiving the full semester leave will not be expected to resume non-teaching duties after 6 weeks or use Faculty Leave Reserve; instead he or she will receive a full 12 weeks of Paid Parental Time with full work release. 

In cases where neither parent is receiving the full semester leave (because of academic leaves and/or administrative appointments, for example), each may take up to 6 weeks of full Paid Parental Time, with no duties required. The timing of the leave for the first parent to take a leave will obviously be tied to the date of the birth or adoption of the child.  However, the timing of the Paid Parental Time (if any) for the second parent/employee is at the discretion of the Dean of Faculty/VPAA, and would generally be timed so as not to disrupt a full academic semester. (Many secondary Paid Parental Time leaves will be granted during J-Term, for example.) As an alternative, the second Faculty parent could request a course release to be used within 12 months of the birth/adoption.  Approval of a course release would be at the discretion of the Dean of Faculty/VPAA.

In either case the birth mother will also be eligible for an additional period of paid Short-Term Disability pay.

Faculty/Staff Couples:  In situations where one parent is a member of the faculty and the other of the staff there are several possible scenarios for the Faculty parent:

  • Faculty Parent who is scheduled to teach takes the initial leave:  A faculty member who is scheduled to teach during the semester is which the new child arrives/is scheduled to arrive will be eligible for a teaching release and pay as described in the “Primary Caregiver Scheduled to Teach” section, above.
  • Faculty Parent who is NOT scheduled to teach takes the initial leave:  A faculty member who is not scheduled to teach by reason of academic leave, administrative appointment, or other reason, and who will be the initial primary caregiver will be eligible for up to 6 weeks of Paid Parental Time immediately after the birth or adoption.  If the parent is also the birth mother she will be eligible for an additional period of Short-Term Disability pay.
  • Faculty Parent who takes a leave after the staff parent has used Staff Paid Parental Leave:  When the staff parent takes parental leave first, a faculty spouse/partner (who subsequently qualifies as the primary caregiver) may take up to 6 weeks of fully paid parental leave, with no duties requiredHowever, the timing of this Paid Parental Time leave is at the discretion of the Dean of Faculty/VPAA, and would generally be timed so as not to disrupt a full academic semester—during J-term, for example. As an alternative, the Faculty parent could request a course release to be used within 12 months of the birth/adoption. Approval of a course release would be at the discretion of the Dean of Faculty/VPAA.

In all cases a faculty member qualifying under the FMLA or similar state law is entitled to up to 12 weeks of leave within a year of the birth/adoption.  Such leave can be a combination of Paid Parental Time, Short-Term Disability pay, FLR, course release time, or unpaid time.

Adoptive families

Recognizing that it can be very difficult to predict precisely when a child being adopted will be placed in the home, the Dean of Faculty/VPAA will work closely with faculty who are adoptive parents to apply the provisions of this policy to their particular circumstances.  Generally speaking, faculty who receive their child within a teaching semester during which they have not made previous arrangements for work release under this policy, can elect to be relieved of all non-teaching duties immediately upon the arrival of the child, provided they qualify as primary caregiver.  In these cases, the faculty member would be granted Paid Parental Time in the subsequent semester, under the terms described previously.  In all cases a faculty member qualifying for FMLA leave is immediately entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave, and may use accrued FLR, in addition to the Paid Parental Time described above.

Effect of Leave on Tenure Review Schedule

If a faculty member in a regular appointment is released from teaching for a parental leave under this policy, that faculty member's review schedule will be postponed by one semester, unless the faculty member requests that the schedule not be so postponed.

Other Unpaid Leaves

Faculty members on ongoing appointments are eligible to apply for leave for personal reasons. Such leaves are without pay and benefits and will usually last for a minimum of one semester and a maximum of one year. Normally, only one year of personal leave will be outside the regular scheduling of reviews for reappointment, promotion, and tenure.

The College will do its best to honor such requests, but it is incumbent upon the individual wishing such a leave to apply early enough so that the department affected may have time to plan for a replacement or make alternative arrangements for covering classes.

Vermont Earned Sick Time (VEST) for Non-regular Faculty

Faculty members who are otherwise classified as non-benefits-eligible are provided with a paid time off benefit under the Vermont Earned Sick Leave Law, 21 V.S.A.&& 481-486.  VEST allows for certain paid time away from work for: physical or mental illness, preventative care, or to arrange services related to domestic violence or sexual assault.  Time can be for the employee’s own need or the needs of: a parent, spouse, child, sibling, parent-in-law, grandchild or foster child.  See the VEST Policy in the Employee Handbook for details.