F. Leaves of Absence

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The Bloomington campus recognizes the need for and has made provision for a number of types of leaves of absence. The various types and the impact on fringe benefits are described below. Reimbursements for travel and other research-related expenses while on leave should follow normal internal guidelines with the deans and unit heads determining if the expenditure is appropriate, “that the primary beneficiary of the expenditure is the University.” The same University policies apply to travel and research-related expenses charged to individual faculty research accounts that apply to expenses charged to any other University account.

Leaves of Absence Without Pay

When a faculty member or other academic appointee wants to take a leave of absence, a request by memo explaining the need for such a leave, accompanied by the initiation of an e-Doc for appropriate approval signatures, should be sent through usual approval channels. Leaves of absence are normally limited to one year. Exceptions may be approved under unusual circumstances. In the case of non-tenured faculty and librarians, the submission should include the form, Understanding on Tenure Status Associated with Leave of Absence.

The "Understanding" form indicates whether or not the leave is to count toward tenure, and must be agreed to by the appointee, the chairperson, the school dean, and the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs. Such leaves normally count toward tenure unless the department can demonstrate that the leave will significantly interrupt the faculty member's progress toward tenure.

A year or semester Leave of Absence without pay does not normally count as a year or semester of service to the University for the following purposes, unless the leave was in connection with a prestigious fellowship:

1. University obligations to make contributions to retirement funds.
2. Years of credit toward tenure, except as explained above. (See Tenure Policy, Policy E-2).
3. Years of credit toward sabbatical leave eligibility. (See Sabbatical Leave Policy, Policy F-2).
4. Years of service which may be relevant under any other University regulations, such as those concerned with early retirement.

See Policy F-8 for details of tenure clock adjustments for faculty leaves.

Research Leave Supplements

In cases where a leave of absence without pay is requested to allow acceptance of a prestigious fellowship or research-related award of demonstrable value to the University, the faculty member may apply to the Office of the Vice Provost for Research for a Research Leave Supplement to augment support provided by the fellowship (see Policy F-1).

Fringe Benefits While on LWOP

The University recognizes no obligation to make Retirement Plan contributions while a faculty member or other academic appointee is on leave of absence without pay (LWOP). A member of the faculty who plans to take a leave of absence without pay should make appropriate arrangements with the prospective employer or grantor agency to cover Retirement Plan contributions. Options for retirement contributions for IU appointees during leaves or for visiting IU appointees should be discussed with the Benefits Office.


If a faculty member or other academic appointee takes a leave of absence without pay, the University will continue life insurance in force for three months. If the leave extends beyond three months, the employee may suspend the insurance, or may continue it in effect by paying the full premium, at the group rate. If the insurance is suspended during the leave, it will be automatically reinstated in accordance with the plan certificate when the appointee returns.

It is also the policy of the University to continue its contributions toward health care benefits for the first six months of a leave of absence without pay if the individual continues his/her own share of the coverage. See University Human Resources policy: http://policies.iu.edu/policies/categories/human-resources/benefits/health_benefits_unpaid_leave.shtml for specific details on continuing health care benefits.

Leave of Absence from Departmental Duties

A leave of absence from departmental or school duties may be granted to a faculty members assigned to work full-time on an extra departmental assignment or on a grant project (funded usually by an outside agency). When such a leave is approved, the individual will remain on the University payroll but will be released from the usual teaching and committee assignments, etc., for a semester or academic year. Such an assignment for a non-tenured faculty member must be made with great caution in that she/he must provide evidence of satisfactory (research/creative activity; service) or effective (teaching) performance in two areas of responsibility, and excellence performance in the third, by the sixth year of the probationary period. (See Policy E-7). Leaves should be requested by memo accompanied by an e-Doc (and an "Understanding on Tenure Status" form for non-tenured faculty) l. Time spent on such leaves will normally count toward tenure.

Partial Leave of Absence

A partial leave of absence may be granted where the appointee, the chairperson and/or dean agree that a reduction in assignment will be mutually beneficial to the appointee and the University. The same cautions and procedures apply as set out above for leaves from departmental duties.

Fringe Benefits: Partial Leave and Leave from Departmental Duties

During a leave of absence from departmental duties, the funding source will normally pick up the University's contribution to fringe benefits and all coverages will remain in full force automatically. During a partial leave of absence, IU Retirement Plan contributions will be made by the University at the percent of salary paid.


Sabbatical Leave Program

Indiana University has a program of sabbatical leaves for faculty members and librarians. (See Policy F-2). The sabbatical leave program provides an opportunity for development and enrichment benefiting both the faculty member and the University.

Purpose of Sabbatical Leaves

The Sabbatical Leaves Committee is charged with evaluation of applications in light of the purposes set out by the Bloomington Faculty Council. The Sabbatical Leaves of Absence Program (Policy F-2) provides as follows:

A faculty member has two academic functions, teaching and research. Travel to use other libraries or research centers, to work with other scholars, or to conduct field research is generally necessary for scholarly endeavor. The sabbatical leave program is undertaken to provide time for such scholarly research and any travel incident thereto and to allow members of the faculty to keep abreast of developments in their fields of service to the University. . .

A statement of proposed use of time is required to indicate the manner of achieving these general objectives. Adherence to an approved plan is expected of a faculty member...Acceptable programs for the use of time may include:

1. Research on significant problems;
2. Important creative or descriptive work in any means of expression; for example, writing, painting, and so forth;
3. Postdoctoral study along a specified line at another institution; and
4. Other projects satisfactory to the Committee on Sabbatical Leaves of Absence.


Faculty members and librarians are eligible to apply for one sabbatical leave during each period of seven years' full-time service to Indiana University in faculty or librarian rank (including time on sabbatical leave), following the first six years of full-time service. If a sabbatical is not taken during a given seven-year period, that eligibility is lost, e.g., if a sabbatical leave is not taken in the period extending from the seventh year through the thirteenth year, one is eligible for only one sabbatical during the period extending from the fourteenth year through the twentieth year. Any exceptions to these requirements must be made, in writing, by the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs. Leaves of absence without pay do not count toward sabbatical leaves, except that recipients of nationally or internationally competitive fellowships for which a Research Leave Supplement was awarded may count up to one such year toward their next sabbatical leave; sabbatical leaves ordinarily are not granted within four years of a previous sabbatical leave, nor when a faculty member has not been recommended for tenure, nor during a faculty member's last year before retirement.

Award Criteria

To accomplish the purposes of the program, the Sabbatical Leaves Committee judges each proposal for its intrinsic merit and potential contribution. The following points are considered in judging every application for sabbatical leave. The application should be written so as to provide adequate information on each point:

  1. Purpose and rationale. Is the purpose of the proposed project clear? Are the outcomes specified so that the contributions of the project to scholarship, creative endeavor, and/or professional practice may be judged? Are the outcomes likely to enhance the faculty member’s effectiveness in the University? Is the project well grounded in theory, previous scholarly work, artistic development, and/or professional advances? Does it address an important problem or need?
  2. Procedure/Methods/Plan of Attack. Does the proposal show a clear and well developed plan? Are methods or procedures well designed for the problem? Are the procedures feasible considering the time and resources available? Have travel plans or choice of other institution been adequately justified in the light of the purpose and rationale for the project? If the research is to be conducted in Bloomington, are local resources adequate?
  3. Proposer’s Background and Qualifications. Does the proposal demonstrate that the faculty member’s background and qualifications are suitable for the project? Does the proposal make clear how the project will advance the faculty member’s capacity to contribute to the University’s objectives?

Normally applications are not approved which propose a leave for writing a textbook, course development or improvement, post-doctoral work on this campus, continuation of research and/or creative activities normally conducted on this campus by the faculty member, or travel or visits to other institutions that have no clear scholarly purpose. If post-doctoral work is proposed, the role of the training in enhancing the University’s academic capability should be emphasized.

In developing the application the faculty member should plan the statement of the project with care to ensure precision and conciseness. Vaguely worded proposals suggest that the goals and procedures have not yet been clearly determined and run a high risk of rejection. Extensive discussion of historical precedent for the proposed project is unnecessary.

Application Due Dates

Sabbatical leave applications are due for the following academic year (or second semester of it) in the fall of each year. The Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs administers this program and sends to each faculty member a reminder of the schedule and procedures each fall:

  • Inform departmental chairperson or dean by September 15 of your intention to apply for leave.
  • Submit your completed (paper) application to your chairperson by October 1. Your chairperson should act on the application and then forward one copy to the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs and one copy to your dean by October 15. Also submit an additional, electronic copy of your application, by CD or e-mail attachment to vpfaa, so that your application may be incorporated into the electronic database.
  • Deans should forward their recommendations to the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs no later than November 17.

In order to provide the faculty member or librarian with the maximum amount of time to make firm plans and arrangements, the Sabbatical Leaves Committee will attempt to process all applications as expeditiously as possible. To accomplish this, applications must be submitted on time.

Duration of Leaves/Divided Sabbaticals

Traditionally, sabbatical leaves have been awarded either for one semester at full pay or for the academic year at half pay. In 1981 the University Faculty Council and the Trustees of Indiana University extended that policy:

"A sabbatical leave need not be taken in a single academic year but may be divided over several academic years." Faculty members should discuss their plans carefully with their chairpersons or deans before applying for a divided sabbatical. The following general guidelines have been established:

1. The Sabbatical Leaves Committee will review applications for divided leave periods giving careful consideration to the appropriateness of the proposed time allocation to the successful completion of the project.
2. The initial application for a divided sabbatical leave must set forth the plans for the total duration of the sabbatical leave, indicating when the applicant will take the various leave periods.
3. Applications requesting divided leaves for less than half a semester should provide a well-supported rationale for the shortness of the leave period(s). Such applications will be scrutinized with particular care.
4. A divided sabbatical leave may be taken for a total of either ten months at half pay or five months at full pay, but not for any combination of half and full-pay periods.
5. Eligibility rules for a divided sabbatical leave remain the same as those for the traditional sabbatical leave; no part of a sabbatical leave may be taken before the completion of six years of full-time service.
6. The University's policy that all persons who have been on sabbatical leave are obligated to return to their regular positions at Indiana University for at least one academic year also applies to divided sabbatical leaves.

Once a sabbatical leave application has been approved, the scheduling of the sabbatical may be altered within the same academic year by approval of an e-Doc. However, if a sabbatical leave is postponed to another academic year, the application is treated as a new one and must be submitted in the usual manner.

Sabbatical Leave Application Reviews

All applications for sabbatical leave are subject to both budgetary and substantive review. Since sabbatical leaves are an expensive investment by the University, the Sabbatical Leaves Committee must be convinced that the sabbatical will indeed be of benefit to the University. This means that the sabbatical leave applicant must provide a well thought-out, clearly delineated plan of research for the sabbatical leave, in which the relevance to the University should be explained. Even though the application must be made approximately a year before the individual's planned leave period, it is important that the proposal be specific. Failure to outline a clear plan runs the risk of rejection by the committee, and is likely to result in a less satisfactory sabbatical than is the case when the plan has been clearly delineated.

External Support

Activities and funds to supplement the sabbatical leave must be consistent with the purpose of the sabbatical leave. Teaching responsibilities, if more than an occasional guest lecture is involved, are not generally considered to be consistent with the sabbatical leave program. However, under special circumstances, permission may be granted for a faculty member to augment a full-year, half-salary sabbatical stipend through part-time teaching at a host institution. The purpose of such an exception is to make it possible for a faculty member lacking outside support to pursue an opportunity for research or creative activity during a full-year rather than a half-year sabbatical leave. The faculty member must explain in writing how the prospects for a productive sabbatical leave will be enhanced, and must specify the nature and extent of the proposed teaching. The departmental chairperson and Dean must then recommend the exception to the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs, who will make the final determination as to whether or not it can be allowed. Under no circumstances may total stipends, salaries, etc., exceed the normal salary the faculty member would have received had he/she been on normal appointment at Indiana University.

Sabbatical Leave Reports

At the end of sabbatical leave, a report describing the execution of work for which leave was granted is to be sent to the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs. A sample of the Report Form appears on page F-6. The requirement of this report is set forth in the Sabbatical Leaves Program. (See Policy F-2). This report will be attached to the faculty member's next application for a sabbatical leave before it is circulated to the committee.

Retirement Plan Contributions While on Sabbatical Leave

During a semester or academic year sabbatical leave, IU Retirement Plan contributions will be made on salary paid. If on sabbatical leave at half pay, contributions will be made based on the half salary. This conforms to IRS regulations for retirement contributions.


It is the policy of the University to continue full life and medical insurance coverage in the case of an academic year sabbatical leave at half pay, or a one-semester sabbatical at full pay. Deductions for the appointee's share of the medical insurance premiums from monthly payroll checks will be continued during the leave.

Sick Leave

The Trustees of Indiana University approved a sick leave plan which is available to full-time academic appointees on appointment for at least an academic year for any major illness. (See Policy F-3). It provides for six weeks of sick leave at full pay. An extension to the end of a semester to a total maximum of six weeks at full pay and nine additional weeks at one-half pay is provided when the prognosis for early recovery is favorable and the extension is approved by the Chairperson and Dean.

Pregnancy and Sick Leave

The Sick Leave Plan applies to medical disabilities of full-time academic appointees resulting from pregnancy (including pre-delivery, delivery, and post-partum medical needs, and complications of pregnancy and/or child-birth and termination of pregnancy). (See Policy F-3) The period of a pregnancy leave is established as: six weeks at full pay and such additional time as is medically required. Within these constraints, leave of up to six weeks will be paid at the full rate and may be combined with paid family leave if the appointee is eligible. Additional leave for which is the appointee is eligible will be paid at one-half rate. Prior to the beginning of a pregnancy leave, an e-Doc should be initiated putting the appointee on sick leave at full pay for six weeks. An automatic return at the end of the six weeks will be expected unless an e-Doc is submitted for additional medically required leave at half-pay, or for a leave without pay (LWOP). Questions about the interpretation of the plan for academic appointees should be directed to the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs.

Pregnancy and Child-Rearing Leaves

Pregnancy and child-rearing shall be considered a permissible purpose for applying for a leave without pay, either partial or full, and shall be available as prescribed by the policy on LWOP . (See Policy F-3).

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) requires Indiana University to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons to employees who have worked for 1250 hours over the previous 12 months (generally interpreted as 60% time/12 month appointment, 72% time/academic year appointment). (See Policy F-6).

In 2008, the Board of Trustees approved a policy which provides eligible academic appointees with more extensive coverage than required by law (Policy F-4). The policy was revised by the Board of Trustees in 2011.

In 2009, the Board of Trustees adopted a similar policy for Indiana University School of Medicine (See Policy F-5).

Leave for Other Purposes

Leaves with pay are accorded, by the Trustees of Indiana University, for military tours of duty, jury duty, and appearance as subpoenaed witnesses. (See Policies F-7 and F-8). Leaves for the latter two purposes shall be permitted for whatever periods may be required by the courts. Leaves for military obligations shall not exceed 15 days in any one calendar year.

The Family and Medical Leave Act was amended on January 8, 2008 to extend its provisions to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition, qualifying exigency, or injury\illness related to military service (See Policy F-6). As a covered employer, Indiana University must grant eligible employees up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave to care for spouses, children, parents, or next of kin who are service members with serious illness or injuries incurred during active duty in the Armed Forces. The leave is available only during one, 12-month period and is combined with all other FMLA leaves in that period. Eligible employees may also take up to 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave in a 12-month period to deal with "any qualifying exigency" that arises from the active duty of a spouse, child, or parent, including an order or call to duty. These provisions apply to all Indiana University employees who have worked for 1250 hours over the previous 12 months (generally interpreted as 60% time/12 month appointment, 72% time/academic year appointment).

Tenure Clock Adjustments for Faculty Leaves



Policy F-1- Research Leave Supplement Guidelines

Policy F-2- Sabbatical Leaves of Absence Program

Policy F-3- Sick Leave

Policy F-4- Indiana University Family Leave Policy for Academic Appointees

Policy F-5- Indiana University School of Medicine Paid Family and Medical Leave Policy for Academic Appointees

Policy F-6- The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 See current information

Policy F-7- Court Service

Policy F-8- Military Tours of Duty