Leaves of Absence for Officers of Research

Full-time officers of research may take leaves of absence while part-time officers of research are only entitled to leaves for military service and leaves provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, and the New York State Paid Family Leave Law (PFL) of 2018.

Full-time senior research scientists/scholars, research scientists/scholars, and associate research scientists/scholars may take leaves of absence from their regular responsibilities to participate in research at another academic or research institution. Full-time staff officers of research may take leaves for this purpose only with the prior special permission of the Provost. Postdoctoral officers of research are not entitled to these leaves. They may, however, resign their appointments and be reappointed, at the University’s discretion, once they are ready to resume their responsibilities. Leaves for research purposes are granted for a maximum of one year and are ordinarily not renewable.

If it is necessary to suspend the payment of salary during the course of a stated term of service because of a sudden and unexpected loss of funding, a full-time officer of research is placed on a leave of absence “for lapse of funding” until the end of the stated term or until funding is resumed, whichever occurs first. The leave may be extended, along with the officer’s appointment, for up to 12 months beyond the end of the stated term if the chair, director, dean, or executive vice president expects the officer to obtain new funding within that period and the Provost concurs. Postdoctoral research fellows (with the exception of those who are paid salary), postdoctoral clinical fellows, and postdoctoral residency fellows are not granted this type of leave because they do not receive salary through the University.

An officer of research on a leave “for lapse of funding” continues to participate in the University’s health plans and receives basic life and basic long-term disability insurance for the duration of the leave. Both the University’s and the individual’s share of the cost of these benefits is paid by the school, department, institute, or center in which the officer is serving. Elective insurance benefits – additional life insurance and optional long-term disability insurance – may be continued at the officer’s expense. Eligibility for the salary continuation plan ends with an interruption in salary, and the University ceases to contribute to the officer’s retirement account. Officers and their family members retain the right to tuition exemption during the term in which a leave for lapse of funding begins but are not granted the benefit for the remaining duration of the leave.

Full-time officers of research suffering from a disabling illness or injury are given a leave of absence for medical reasons upon submission of the appropriate documentation completed by a physician. Officers should send the information to the Leave Management Office in Human Resources which will advise the chair, director, dean or executive vice president, and the Provost on how long they will be unable to perform their normal responsibilities. In cases where a claim of disability appears questionable, the University reserves the right to have the officer seen by a physician of its own choosing before granting the leave.

During a medical leave, officers of research, with the exception of postdoctoral research and clinical fellows, receive full salary and benefits for up to six months under the University’s salary continuation plan. Starting in the seventh month, an officer who continues to be disabled is given a leave of absence without salary and is eligible for payments from the University’s insurance carrier according to the terms of the long-term disability program. Officers who are able to perform a portion of their normal responsibilities will be given a leave of absence with partial salary, which will be supplemented with prorated disability payments from the insurance carrier. Information on the long-term disability program may be obtained from the Leave Management Office in Human Resources.

Full-time postdoctoral research and clinical fellows receiving stipends are not covered by either the University’s salary continuation plan or its long-term disability insurance. While the University grants medical leaves to these officers when they experience a disabling illness or injury, the continuation of the fellowship stipend depends on the rules of the granting agency. The University will continue the stipend for as long as the granting agency permits. If the granting agency prohibits the officer from receiving the stipend while on a medical leave, the department, school, institute, or center is responsible for providing salary for the period of the medical leave, and the officer’s appointment is changed to a full-time postdoctoral research scientist/scholar.

Leaves of absence for medical reasons are granted for a maximum of one year at a time, in the manner of other leaves. The Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs will renew a medical leave on receiving confirmation that the officer continues to be disabled.

A full-time officer of research who is pregnant is entitled to a medical leave of absence, according to the policies described above, for the period surrounding the birth of her child during which her doctor certifies that she is unable to work. Once the disability ends, the officer may take a further leave to take care of the newborn child. If the officer does not perform any responsibilities during the leave, it is without salary. With the approval of the principal investigator, department chair or director, dean or executive vice president, and the Provost, the officer may alternatively continue to perform a portion of her normal responsibilities on a leave with partial salary. The total period of medical and child care leave normally may not exceed 12 months.

Male officers of research holding full-time appointments may also take full or partial leaves for up to 12 months to care for a newborn child if they are the primary care giver. Similar privileges are given to all full-time research officers who adopt a child of less than school age, or if the child is disabled or meets New York State’s legal definition of “hard-to-place,” is less than 18 at the time the leave begins.

Full-time postdoctoral and clinical fellows may take a child care leave without stipend or with partial stipend according to the policies described above if permitted by the rules of the funding agency.

Full-time officers of research, with the exception of those who are appointed in a visiting rank, may be granted leaves for public service. They are also eligible for leaves for military service to the extent required by law and may take leaves for compelling personal reasons. Part-time officers of research may also be entitled to military leaves if they meet the eligibility requirements defined by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994. For information on those requirements, officers should contact the Office of Human Resources.

Full- and part-time officers of research are entitled to leaves of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 if they have been employed and paid by the University for at least 12 months immediately preceding the leave and have worked for at least 1,250 hours during that period. Any compensated employment – regardless of title and including periods on the casual payroll – counts in determining if an officer meets these requirements. Postdoctoral research and clinical fellows who receive stipends as well as postdoctoral residency fellows are not eligible for this type of leave.

Officers of research who meet those requirements may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in each year to care for a newborn, newly adopted, or new foster child; to care for a seriously ill family member; or as a result of a medical disability. They may take up to 26 weeks if the leave is needed to deal with a qualifying exigency, as defined by the federal Department of Labor, arising out of the military service of a spouse, child, or parent. The University’s policies governing the leaves of absence that full-time officers of research may take for these purposes are, with the exception of certain benefits provisions, more generous than the requirements of the FMLA. Consequently, the University considers the first 12 weeks of any such leave as fulfilling the requirements of the Family and Medical Leave Act, except for leaves arising from a family member’s military service, in which case it counts the first 26 weeks.