Maternity Leave Procedures for Faculty Members and Librarians

PDAD&C #27, 2001-2002


TO:   Principals, Deans, Academic Directors and Chairs
FROM:   Vivek Goel, Vice-Provost, Faculty
DATE:   November 12, 2001
RE:   Maternity Leave Procedures for Faculty Members & Librarians

Earlier this year, the federal and provincial governments introduced new parental leave provisions. Parental leave taken in addition to maternity leave has been extended from 18 weeks to 35 weeks. For parents not taking maternity leave, including adoptive parents, parental leave has been extended to 37 weeks. Employment Insurance benefits are available for 15 weeks of maternity leave and 35 weeks of parental leave. Some restrictions apply. These legislative changes have implications for University practices for faculty, which are governed by policy negotiated with the University of Toronto Faculty Association. I am taking this opportunity to discuss some issues around maternity leaves for faculty members and librarians. This applies to faculty, including those with tenure stream appointments, contractually limited term appointments, lecturers and senior lecturers, and librarians.

In order to implement our Maternity Leave Policy, it is important to understand what we want to achieve from it. We want to ensure that those faculty who choose to have children do not suffer professional disadvantage. Maternity/parental leave is a legal entitlement and is therefore a right and not a privilege. Ensuring no professional disadvantage means that the policy has to be implemented with flexibility, taking into account individual circumstances. While the overall elements will be very similar across leaves, the specific details are likely to vary substantially. A pregnant faculty member is entitled to 17 weeks of maternity leave and 35 weeks of parental leave. However, the exact length and particularly the timing of the leave may vary at the discretion of the faculty member. It is possible to adjust the timing of the leave so that it is most consistent with the principle of incurring no professional disadvantage.

Maternity leaves are centrally funded. The business officer in your department or division will look after the details. Rather than being a monetary burden on departments and divisions, maternity leaves typically result in some "savings." You are encouraged to use this money to cover teaching relief (which can happen pre- and/or post-leave if the leave falls in the summer), research assistance for the faculty member or other uses that will help the faculty member and the department or division in the context of the leave.

If the faculty member is pre-tenure, she may request for a maternity leave a one-year delay on her "tenure clock". The delay is one year regardless of the length of the leave. This delay may be requested at any time prior to the formation of the tenure committee.

This provision is governed by paragraph 10 of the Policy and Procedures on Academic Appointments. The approval of the Vice-President and Provost is required in such cases.

A maternity leave does not stop the "sabbatical leave clock", and if a maternity leave falls within a scheduled sabbatical, adjustments should be made. There should be no expectation of scholarly productivity during the leave.

With respect to PTR, the principle of no professional disadvantage should prevail. PTR should be calculated in terms of the faculty member's work prior to and after the leave, with allowances for a longer term review to ensure that no anomalies occurred. The faculty member's performance prior to the leave may be a good indication of the level of PTR for the leave period, although in cases where the faculty member was ill or unable to function at full capacity prior to the leave, it may be necessary to extrapolate over a longer period of time.

If you have questions or want help in determining what to do for members of your department or division, feel free to contact me. Your decentralized personnel office and the Family Care Advisor, Jan Nolan, are valuable resources and I encourage you to make use of their resources.