Full-time faculty members (renewable contract, probationary, or tenured) may apply for leaves of absence, which, except for extended military leave, shall be for a period of one year or less. Faculty members normally must be employed at the University for one year to request these leaves. Unless otherwise noted here, faculty are entitled to all leaves afforded for their classification as defined in the Employee Handbook. Temporary faculty members with appointments for less than one calendar year typically are not granted leaves and are not eligible for leaves with compensation.

See these pertinent sections of the Employee Handbook, among others:

Military Leave

Jury Duty Witness Summons

Suspension of Normal Campus Operations

Bereavement Leave


Leave of Absence for Personal Reasons

On-the-Job Injuries and Illnesses

Some leaves are unique to faculty members or operate differently for faculty who do not accrue annual or sick leave. These policies are as follows:

A. Annual Leave and Sick Leave for 12-Month Faculty Members

Faculty members on 12-month appointments are eligible to accrue annual leave and sick leave. Policies that apply to University employees who accrue annual and sick leave generally apply to faculty members on 12-month appointments. Faculty in this category normally will abide by all policies related to the Leave Administration and Pay Policies and Practices as outlined in the Employee Handbook. Faculty on nine-month appointments do not accrue annual or sick leave and do not regularly report leave.

B. Extended Sick Leave for Faculty

In the event of a personal illness, a faculty member may request sick leave for periods that may be as long as six months. To be eligible for extended sick leave for a personal illness, faculty members must have a qualifying serious health condition under the Family Medical Leave (FML) policy and work with the Benefits Office to request and be approved for FML, which can last for up to 12 weeks over a one-year period. Refer to Family and Medical Leave Policy for full details.

Faculty members who accrue both annual and sick leave must use their accrued time during this leave. If they exhaust their accrued leave, they can request leave with pay through their dean’s office from the Office for Academic Affairs. While the leave provided under FML is guaranteed by law, leave with pay beyond what is accrued is not guaranteed and must be granted by the Office for Academic Affairs. All accrued leave must be exhausted before the Provost will consider such a request.

Faculty who do not accrue leave are guaranteed leave as provided by FML. For any portion of this leave to be granted with pay, however, a request must be submitted by the faculty member, through the dean’s office, to the Provost for approval.

Faculty members whose personal illnesses prohibit them from returning to work and who have exhausted their approved FML may request additional leave from the Office for Academic Affairs or consult the Employee Handbook for more information on requesting leave as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. For this request to be considered, faculty members normally will have been approved to receive FML and normally would have the support of their dean. These requests must be made in writing to the Office for Academic Affairs and should document the extenuating circumstances necessitating this extended sick leave. This additional leave will only be granted in extreme circumstances. Leave with pay is unlikely after the initial 12 weeks.

When a faculty member is approved for extended sick leave, the department chairperson or dean must arrange for colleagues to carry out the faculty member’s obligations or must make other arrangements for fulfilling those obligations. In order to facilitate programmatic planning, a faculty member should notify the department chairperson or dean of the need for sick leave as far in advance of the anticipated leave period as possible.

C. Maternity Leave

Maternity leave for faculty members is provided to allow for the recovery from pregnancy, miscarriage, abortion, childbirth, and from any resulting disabilities. Those eligible for paid maternity leave are faculty members who are tenured or probationary or those faculty who have been in a renewable contract status for at least one year at the time the leave begins. This section does not apply to temporary faculty, faculty on renewable appointments for less than one year, graduate assistants or post-doctoral positions. Colleges must work with eligible faculty members to provide eight weeks of paid leave provided the baby is born during the academic year or close to the beginning of the academic year.

Maternity leave must be requested through the FML process, and all approved paid leave runs concurrently with FML. Faculty members who accrue sick and annual leave are expected to use accrued time as paid time off, but they may be eligible for additional paid time off under the provisions above if they do not have a full eight weeks of leave at the time the leave begins. Leave is granted to cover the time necessary for the medical recovery period as defined by the individual’s health provider and to provide time for initial bonding with the child. Under usual circumstances, this time is eight weeks. Faculty members can request additional time allowable under FML per the process above.

Leave is granted during the actual time period necessary. It is not stored or added if birth occurs during the summer term, or winter or spring breaks. For example, if a baby is born June 1, a faculty member on a regular academic year appointment would not be eligible for paid leave. If the baby is born on August 1, the faculty member would be eligible for approximately six weeks of paid leave, because regular academic year appointments start on August 16.

Department chairs and deans will work with faculty members to determine reasonable administrative, research, and service expectations during the portion of the semester in which the faculty member is not on leave. Except in extraordinary circumstances, and as approved by the Provost, no faculty member will be relieved of all teaching responsibilities for both the fall and spring semesters. Unless otherwise requested by a faculty member, no faculty member will have teaching, administrative, research, or service expectations increased in subsequent terms as a result of choosing to take maternity leave.

To request maternity leave, a faculty member should use the following steps:

  • As soon as possible, the faculty member should notify the department chair/dean of the due date and request assistance in planning a workload that accommodates the maternity leave.
  • The department chair, in consultation with the faculty member, should propose a workload that accommodates the leave. The plan should make clear the expectations for the portion of the semester that the faculty member will not be on leave. Depending on when the baby is due, the faculty member may be able to teach courses typically taught during the semester. The assistance needed by the faculty member may be with grading at the end of the semester. The faculty member may benefit more from being relieved of research responsibilities or service responsibilities. To ensure that a faculty member has eight weeks of paid maternity leave, a faculty member may be asked to pick up different responsibilities during the portion of the semester that the faculty member is available to work full time. For example, the faculty member may be asked to assist with responsibilities relating to program assessment plans or an upcoming accreditation visit.
  • This plan will be sent to the dean for review and commentary and then forwarded to the Provost for final approval. All faculty leaves must be approved by the Provost under the provisions in the Faculty Handbook.
  • Simultaneously, the faculty member should be following the FML approval process discussed above.
  • Faculty members and their supervisors must document leave time, and schools and colleges should initiate a conversion to unpaid status if the faculty member does not return to work at the end of the approved paid leave period.

D. Other FML-Covered Leave

Faculty members are eligible to apply through the Benefits Office for other qualifying FML events beyond personal illness and maternity leave. Qualifying events include, but are not limited to, a serious health condition of an employee’s spouse, dependent child, or parent, and parental leave associated with adoption, foster care, or childbirth (See the Family and Medical Leave Policy).   Request for this leave to be granted with pay should follow the same process as described in Section II, B above.

E. Leave Associated with Distinguished Fellowships, Awards, and Grants

When University faculty members receive a Fulbright or another fellowship, award, or grant of similar distinction that results in time away from the normal responsibilities at The University of Alabama, they should request leave through the department chair (if applicable) and dean, who shall forward the request to the Provost, who will make the final decision on leave. Faculty members working with international awards should work with the Capstone International Center. It is the intent of The University of Alabama that faculty members receiving such awards not be penalized financially for accepting these awards. Therefore, the following apply:

  • Faculty members may apply to continue receiving their base University salary and benefits for the duration of the leave associated with the award. This request should be tied to the request for leave submitted to the Provost.
  • Any additional monies/resources by the awarding agency to pay for travel, housing, board, books, etc. while away from The University of Alabama shall be retained by the faculty member to offset costs of living temporarily in another location (if applicable).
  • Additional pay by the awarding agency (for example, a monthly “teaching stipend” as defined in the Fulbright Award letter) normally will be kept by the faculty member.
  • Details of the additional compensation should be spelled out in the request for leave sent to the Provost. Department chairs and deans should outline in their memo to the Provost how they plan to cover the duties of the faculty member and costs associated with that coverage.

F. Voluntary Leave Without Pay

Tenured and probationary faculty members may request a voluntary leave of absence without pay. Typically, such leaves are granted for the purpose of further study, broader experience in the person’s field, or in recognition of the faculty member’s stature in the field. Normally, the faculty member should request leave of absence at least three months in advance of the beginning of the proposed leave period. The Provost decides whether to approve such leaves after considering recommendations from the chairperson and dean. Because granting a voluntary leave may interrupt the continuity of an educational program, the availability of appropriate personnel and the importance of the individual’s contribution to the smooth and orderly operation of the program will be among the factors considered in deciding whether to grant such leave. Time spent on a voluntary leave without pay is not counted when considering eligibility for a sabbatical leave unless prior agreement to count this time is recommended by the departmental chairperson and the dean and approved by the Provost. Approval will depend on the extent to which planned activities can be expected to enhance the applicant’s professional stature, including the likelihood that research or scholarly publications will result. Time spent on a leave without pay does not accrue credit in the Teachers’ Retirement System of Alabama.

G. Effect of Leaves on Insurance Programs

When a faculty member has a leave of absence without pay, or temporarily goes off the payroll for other reasons, the faculty member must work with the Benefits Office for guidance about continuation of benefits during unpaid leave. Personnel of that office will provide information about the cost of continuation and will explain options available to the faculty member.