CAS Policies on Faculty Academic Leaves

This page refers to faculty leaves. Staff leave policies are described at

Leaves of absence are an important resource for faculty.  Faculty Development Leaves (FDLs), available to tenure-line and Practice faculty members, offer regular opportunities for professional development and scholarship.  A Leave of Absence (LoA) that is not an FDL may provide a means of taking advantage of professional opportunities, to accept awards and other external recognition, and to deal with personal situations.  An LOA involving Family Medical Leave (FML) or Maternity, Medical and Adoption Leave may be required to deal with health issues or a new child.  The following section describes considerations and principles governing the handling of requests for leaves. Subsequent sections offer information and links relevant to particular types of leaves.

Policies applying to all leaves

  • All leaves are subject to the provisions of section of the Bylaws of the Board of Regents.  Most critically, any leave of absence from university duties must be approved in advance. See also "Leaves" on
    • Applications require endorsement by the director(s) of all appointing unit(s).  Faculty members who intend to apply for any type of leave should discuss their plans with their chair(s) or director(s) in advance of submitting a formal request. 
    • Requests for FDL must be submitted by a posted CAS deadline (typically the first Monday of December of the preceding academic year). Any request for planned leave must be made far enough in advance to allow unit directors to arrange for coverage of assignments and duties in ways that maintain the program.
    • “All granting of leaves of absence shall be contingent on satisfactory replacement or other arrangements having been made to the end that instruction and research in the department involved will not be disrupted.” (BOR Bylaws
  • Faculty members who have received approval for a leave are responsible for communicating as far in advance as possible any major changes associated with the activities, timing, or salary/reimbursement associated with the leave.
  • Any leave associated with full or partial pay requires the faculty member to return to duties at the university for a minimum of one year following the leave.
  • All benefits are preserved during leaves with full pay. University contributions to benefits are unchanged during full-year faculty development leaves at half pay (see below); retirement contributions are reduced. Other leaves with partial pay will typically result in reduced retirement and benefits contributions. During leaves without pay, there are no university contributions to benefits or retirement. Faculty members are urged to contact HR staff or UNL Benefits for more information about the impact of a leave on benefits, retirement, and the timing of paychecks.

Leaves with Full or Partial Pay

Faculty Development Leaves (FDL)

Tenure-line and Practice Faculty who have been in a full-time appointment for six years and who have gone at least six years since a previous FDL are eligible for Faculty Development Leave, which is designed to provide concentrated time for professional development, instructional development, and/or scholarship.  FDLs, which can be configured for one semester at full pay or an academic year at half pay, are awarded on a competitive basis. An appropriately configured and endorsed application must be submitted to the college the first Monday in December of the year preceding the leave. 

During a full-year FDL at half-pay, an external award or fellowship may provide up to half of academic-year salary.  Although there is no requirement to use an FDL to obtain a leave with partial pay, faculty members are encouraged to pursue opportunities for special awards and fellowships to coincide with a year in which they are eligible for FDL.

With the exception of Family Medical Leaves (next section), time spent on a formal leave does not count towards the six years required to be eligible for an FDL.

See Leaves of Absence from the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor for more information.

Family Medical Leave (FML)

Faculty members with at least 0.5 FTE appointment are eligible for paid leave to deal with serious health concern (not only the faculty member but also a spouse, child, or parent) or a death in the immediate family; for more information. See BoR Bylaws section, BoR Policies RP-3.3.11, and for more details.

If you believe you may require FML-related leave, please contact your chair or director as soon as possible. The process will require filing three forms: FML Request; Certification of Health Care Provider; and a Leave of Absence Form.  Note that you do not need to disclose or discuss any specifics about your condition. If you are not comfortable having this discussion with a supervisor, you may reach out to Faculty/Staff Disability Services at, or by calling Institutional Equity and Compliance at (402) 472-3417.

Unit directors are expected to work cooperatively with an individual seeking FML and, in particular, to seek to cover instructional needs in ways that do not create an undue burden on the employee.  Please consult with the Associate Dean for Faculty if there are any concerns.

Maternity, Medical, and Adoption Leave

Faculty members have the right to take leave for certain qualifying events, including the birth of a child (as the mother) or the placement of a child through adoption and care (as the primary caregiver).  Parental leave as the primary caregiver, a definition which includes maternity leave, is accompanied by eight weeks of paid leave.  Chairs or directors are expected to work cooperatively with faculty members who are taking parental leave as primary caregivers to provide flexibility in terms of return to departmental assignments; in particular, it is the expectation of the college that no formal classroom teaching will be expected in the remainder of a semester following paid parental leave as a primary caregiver.  (Note that faculty member taking maternity/parental leave as discussed above may request up to four weeks of additional unpaid leave).  A new parent not in a primary caregiver role is eligible for up to five days of paid leave.  Contact the Associate Dean for Faculty for more information.

Application for Maternity/Paternal leave, although distinct from FML, employs the same forms:  FML Request; Certification of Health Care Provider; and a Leave of Absence Form.  Faculty members are directed to Board of Regents (BoR) Bylaws – and BoR Policies RP 3.3.13, which discuss leaves related to disability, maternity, paternity, adoption, and the interrelationship of these leaves with FML policies.  Faculty members and chairs or directors are encouraged to contact the Associate Dean for Faculty with any questions.

For more information, see:

Special requirements for leaves with full or partial pay

With the exception of Family Medical Leaves, authorization of leaves with full or partial pay requires a signed agreement that the faculty member will return to the University after the completion of the leave.  The faculty member must agree to reimburse the university for all pay received during the leave of absence if they leave the university prior to the completion of one additional year on the faculty. 

As a general guide, departments are discouraged from approving a leave with partial pay or without pay in a year immediately adjacent to an FDL.

Leaves associated with prestigious awards or fellowships

Leaves with full or partial pay may be considered for faculty who have received prestigious awards.  Most of these awards include some level of financial support.  The University of Nebraska encourages faculty engagement in high prestige awards (e.g., Fulbright Fellowships). Consistent with this policy, the College of Arts and Sciences will, when feasible, ‘top up’ salaries for faculty who receive particularly prestigious awards associated with a leave. Contact your chair or director for more information.  For approved leaves, faculty will receive full pay and continuation of their standard benefits.  

The department chair should notify the college well in advance of the proposed leave date.  This will provide the time required to consider if and how additional support could be provided should the application be successful.

Faculty Salary during Leaves with Full or Partial Pay

Total income during academic year leaves involving University pay may not exceed the base UNL salary. Faculty members may accept grants to augment their income for the purpose of covering necessary travel expenses and increased cost-of-living while working away from home during the leave. Any such funding must be disclosed and authorized during the approval process for the leave.

Leaves Without Pay

Leaves without pay may be requested by faculty desiring to be involved in a specific program of teaching, research or creative activity, professional training, high-profile professional service, or temporary appointments at another university, a national lab, or with private companies. Unpaid leave may also be requested for personal reasons.

Any leave, paid or unpaid, requires prior approval of the department and the college.  Approval is not automatic and should not be assumed.  Request for leaves without pay may not always meet the criteria established by the Board of Regents, particularly with respect to the potential impact on UNL programs.  While there is no specific timeline for such requests, they must come sufficiently early to allow unit directors to arrange for coverage of duties in ways that maintain the program.

Typically, the duration of a leave without pay is up to one year, but a second year may be approved in special circumstances.  The process should begin with a meeting involving your chair or director and will require you to eventually submit an Application for Leave of Absence. As is the case for leaves with partial pay, the period of time on a leave without pay does not count towards eligibility for an FDL. 

No limitation is placed on total stipend in cases where leave is granted without financial support from the university.

Department Compensation and Incentives Associated with Leaves

Faculty Development Leaves

Tenure-line faculty: In the case of a faculty member taking a one-semester FDL at full pay, there is no expectation of CAS support for temporary instruction. In the case of full-year FDLs, the college will return 50 percent of the salary savings to the department in support of instruction. 

Professors of Practice: The college will provide units with temporary instructional support to offset lost teaching capacity associated with one-semester FDLs involving Professors of Practice (any rank). Contact the Associate Dean for Faculty if you anticipate a member of the Practice Faculty taking a full-year FDL.

Leaves without pay or with partial pay

The college policy is to return a significant fraction of saved funds to units when they have faculty taking a leave without pay or with partial pay.  The fraction of returned salary varies depending upon the nature of the leave, with the highest rates of return associated with prestigious awards and fellowships (e.g., Fulbright Professorships, Guggenheim).  For more information, please talk to your chair or director.