Policy on Faculty Family Leave

Northwestern University has revised its faculty family leave policy to offer paid childbearing, adoption and childrearing leaves for eligible faculty; this revised policy took effect September 1, 2006.

The childbearing, adoption, and childrearing leaves described below are independent of personal leaves taken according to the provisions of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Unpaid FMLA leave may be taken in addition to the leaves described below.

Faculty members who do not meet the eligibility requirements described below remain eligible for the “Leave for Childbearing” described in the Northwestern University Faculty Handbook.

Eligibility

Faculty eligible for childbearing, adoption, and childrearing leaves described below are:

  1. full-time, benefits-eligible tenured or tenure track faculty
  2. other full-time, benefits-eligible instructional faculty who, at the time of the birth or adoption, have completed three years of continuous full time service on the Northwestern faculty or who are serving on an academic appointment of three years or longer at the time of the leave. Persons who hold research faculty appointments and persons who hold faculty appointments but whose activities are primarily non-instructional (administrative) are ineligible for the childbearing, adoption, and childrearing leaves described in this policy.

TYPES OF LEAVES

A. Leave for Childbearing
Paid leave is provided to eligible faculty members for childbirth or adoption of a child. This leave for childbearing is not taken in addition to (but is coordinated with) the six week “Leave for Childbearing” described in the Northwestern University Faculty Handbook. If a medically certified disability arises as a result of pregnancy or childbearing, which renders the faculty member unable to work before or after the academic term in which the faculty member takes this childbearing leave, the faculty member is eligible for additional leave described in the “Medical Leave” section of the Faculty Handbook.

Faculty members who give birth to a child are eligible for a subsequent paid childrearing leave.

B. Leave for Adoption
Paid leave is provided to eligible faculty members for adoption of a child. Faculty members who adopt a child are eligible for a subsequent paid childrearing leave.

C. Leave for Childrearing
Paid leave is provided to eligible faculty members who are at least an equal partner in caring for a child.

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Length And Timing Of Leaves

A. Faculty Members Whose Primary Appointments are in WCAS, SESP, SoC, Medill, McCormick, Bienen and KSM:

  • Childbearing and Adoption Leave: One academic term, with corresponding reduction in teaching load. This leave must be taken during the academic term during which the birth or adoption takes place, or during the academic term immediately following birth or adoption. The faculty member is expected to notify the school dean at least sixty days prior to the beginning of the academic term during which the leave will take place; in cases of reception of a child by adoption, a shorter notification period may be necessary.
  • Childrearing Leave: One academic term, with corresponding reduction in teaching load. Childrearing leave must commence within twelve months of the birth or adoption of the child. Requests for childrearing leave are generally granted, upon recommendation of the school dean and approval of the Provost. The faculty member is expected to submit a request for leave to the school dean at least sixty days prior to the beginning of the academic term requested as the leave period.

B. Faculty Members Whose Primary Appointment is in the Law School:

  • Childbearing and Adoption Leave: Ten weeks, with reduction in annual teaching load, equivalent to one course. Faculty members with term-based teaching responsibilities must take this leave during the academic term during which the birth or adoption takes place, or during the academic term immediately following birth or adoption. Other faculty members must take the leave at a time coincident with the birth or adoption. The faculty member is expected to notify the school dean at least sixty days prior to the beginning of the leave; in cases of reception of a child by adoption, a shorter notification may be necessary.
  • Childrearing Leave: Ten weeks, with reduction in annual teaching load, equivalent to one course. Childrearing leave must commence within twelve months of the birth or adoption of the child. Requests for childrearing leave are generally granted, upon recommendation of the school dean and approval of the Provost. The faculty member is expected to submit a request for leave to the school dean at least sixty days prior to the beginning of the intended leave period.

C. Faculty Members Whose Primary Appointment is in the Feinberg School of Medicine:

  • Childbearing and Adoption Leave: Ten weeks, with corresponding reduction in teaching load. Faculty members must take the leave at a time coincident with the birth or adoption. The faculty member is expected to notify the school dean at least sixty days prior to the beginning of the leave; in cases of reception of a child by adoption, a shorter notification period may be necessary.
  • Childrearing Leave: Ten weeks, with corresponding reduction in teaching load. Childrearing leave must commence within twelve months of the birth or adoption of the child. Requests for childrearing leave are generally granted, upon recommendation of the school dean and approval of the Provost. The faculty member is expected to submit a request for leave to the school dean at least sixty days prior to the beginning of the intended leave period.

Expectations During Childbearing, Adoption And Childrearing Leaves

Faculty members on childbearing, adoption, and childrearing leave will not be required to fulfill such University service responsibilities as membership on committees; however, they are expected to retain responsibility for any necessary supervision to students pursuing such work as undergraduate senior honors, masters, or doctoral research.

During the academic year in which the leave is taken, a reduction in the annual teaching load corresponding to the length of the leave will be made. If the course reduction and leave from service are not taken in the academic year in which the birth or adoption occurs, the faculty member may take the remaining course reduction(s) and leave from service in the following academic year. Notwithstanding the provisions regarding course reductions, it is assumed that no faculty member's teaching load will be reduced to less than one course a year because of childbearing/adoption and/or childrearing.

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Tenure Clock Extension

Independent of a faculty member's taking a leave of absence, Northwestern University provides extensions to the pretenure probationary period for circumstances related to the birth, adoption, and/or rearing of a dependent child. A one-year extension will be granted to mothers following childbirth, and to parents following adoption. An additional one-year extension for childrearing may be granted to a parent who is at least an equal partner in caring for a child. Extensions for childbirth and/or adoption and/or childrearing are limited to a total of two years within a faculty member's pretenure probationary period at Northwestern, regardless of the number of children.

In cases of birth or adoption, approval of requests for leave and for extension of the tenure clock for one year is automatic. However, both circumstances require that the faculty member provide to the school dean notification of the birth or adoption and/or the customary request for extension of the tenure clock.

For extension of the pretenure probationary period related to the birth or adoption of a child, the faculty member must initiate the process to obtain an extension before the beginning of the final year of the probationary appointment and should follow the procedure set forth in the Policy on Extending the Probationary Period for Tenure-Track Faculty, which may be found on the Office of the Provost Policy web page. The dean will in turn provide to the faculty member written confirmation that the probationary period has been extended.

Requests for extensions of the pretenure probationary period related to childrearing must also be made prior to the final year of the probationary period and should follow the procedure set forth in the Policy on Extending the Probationary Period for Tenure-Track Faculty.

While the decision on each request will depend on the specific circumstances, requests to extend the pretenure probationary period for circumstances relating to childrearing will generally receive favorable consideration if they do not exceed the two year limit set forth above.

Responsible Office: Office of the Provost

Who Needs to Know This Policy: All Northwestern faculty members

Contacts: If you have any questions on this Policy, contact facultyrecords@northwestern.edu.

Dated: September 1, 2006