Key Policies on Faculty Leaves and Time Away from Duke

Purpose: This summary provides brief information about several high impact policies affecting faculty. The sources of information for the majority of what follows include the Duke Faculty Handbook, the PDC Intranet Website, and Duke Benefits. 

Please refer to these sites for any updates or changes in policy. If a discrepancy exists, these sites are the authoritative sources. 

Duke Faculty Handbook and Office of the Provost

PDC Benefits


Duke Benefits 



Leaves of Absence - Academic Reasons

  • Unpaid (University salary is discontinued during these leaves)
  • Benefits discontinued during leave unless special arrangements made
  • For academic reasons/scholarly growth
  • Limited to 2 years of every 7
  • Approvals required: Chair, Dean, and Provost
  • May be paid
  • If paid
    • Benefits continue
    • Salary includes University component only
    • PDC salary not covered during sabbatical unless doing clinical work
  • Duration may be 1 year with half salary (and full benefits), or half year with full salary
  • If sabbaticals are earned but not used, up to two sabbatical leaves may be taken inconsecutive semesters. In this case, the faculty member is eligible for full pay for one year.Total time off from consecutive sabbatical leaves may not exceed one year.
  • Requests due by December 1 of the year prior to the leave
  • Eligibility for Sabbatical: tenured faculty, full or half year. Eligible after each six years of active service.
  • Proposal must be endorsed by Chair and SoM Dean, and approved by the Provost
  • Expectation is that faculty will return to Duke and provide service for at least one year
  • Primary purpose is to increase the value of the professor’s further service to bothhis/her profession and the university

Leaves of Absence – Non Academic Reasons

  • Unpaid time away from work
  • Benefits continue
  • May be taken concurrently with other leaves (Temporary Medical, Parental)
  • Up to a total of 12 weeks in a rolling 12-month period
  • Military Family Leave (below), in combination with all Family Medical Leave, should not exceed 26 weeks within a 12-month period
  • Eligibility: employment for at least 12 months, with at least 1250 hours of service in preceding 12 months
  • Reasons may include child’s birth, adoption, foster care, care of family member with serious health condition, personal health concerns
  • Leave may be intermittent, except for Parental Leave, which must be taken all at once
  • Doctor’s note required
  • In accordance with Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
  • Military Family Leave, in combination with all Family Medical leave, should not exceed 26weeks within a 12-month period
  • Must be requested in advance
  • Unique and extraordinary reasons
  • Must be shown to be of mutual benefit to both Duke and faculty member
  • Up to one year; could be extended for special circumstances
  • Benefits discontinued if leave without pay
  • May also consider using Flexible Work Arrangements Policy instead of Leave
  • Paid leave
  • University pay provided for illness, injury or other temporary medical restriction lasting more than 4 weeks
  • Leave may be granted for 4 weeks to 1 year
  • May be “part time”
  • Employer contribution to benefits continues
  • Faculty member should contact Benefits Office if leave >3 months to determine if longterm disability leave is more appropriate
  • Counts as leave time under FMLA
  • Doctor’s release required for return to work
  • Paid leave
  • 3 month leave with University pay for birth of child, adoption of child <6 years old, birth of domestic partner’s child
  • If both parents are regular rank faculty members, each parent is eligible to receive the parental leave benefit. If an infant spent time in the intensive care nursery, the School of Medicine would allow for a delayed start.
  • Requests for leave should be made within 3 months of confirmation of adoption or pregnancy
  • Chair must affirm (in writing to Dean) their understanding that the requestor is the primary caregiver
  • Automatic 1-year tenure clock extension
  • Employer contribution to benefits continues
  • Counts as leave under FMLA
  • For leaves > 4 months
  • Contact Duke University Benefits Office 919-684-5600
  • Faculty member to notify appropriate dean and chair

Other Policies Related to Faculty Work at Duke

  • Applies to regular rank faculty
  • Requires Chair approval with written memorandum of understanding (MOU) between faculty member and chair that includes agreed upon modification in duties, salary and proposed total time.
  • Policy may not be available to all faculty, depending on unit needs
  • Faculty maintain full time status - no “part time” label
  • University and PDC benefits maintained
  • Provides a mechanism for a time-limited modification of duties
    • 3-year max, with option to renew
  • Automatic tenure clock extension
    • 3 months for each year of leave on approved Flexible Work Arrangement
    • Maximum accumulated tenure clock relief-for any reason-is 36 months (3 year) total
    • Calculation of maximum accumulated tenure clock relief excludes relief associated with parental leave. Parental leaves are unlimited
    • Faculty can decline tenure clock relief
  • Faculty encouraged to use this policy proactively (rather than after the fact)
  • 22 business days or 1 month for faculty in the School of Medicine on 12 month appointments
  • Gradual reduction in responsibilities possible: Flexible Work Arrangements Policy may be useful
  • Discussions should begin at least one year prior to retirement
  • Refer faculty member to Duke University Benefits Office: 919-684-5600
  • For PDC retirement policy, contact PDC Benefits Office: 919-684-4358
  • Eligibility: Age 65 or older OR 10 or more years of University service
  • Requires nomination by Chair, and approval by Dean, Provost, President and Board of Trustees
  • Benefits: inclusion on faculty mailing lists, access to Athletic Facilities, Computer Service, support from OIT Service Desk, Directory Listing, Identification Cards, Library Privileges, Mail, and Parking (with the exception of premium lots and the parking policy will be reviewed every two years).
  • Principal Investigator Eligibility: participation as a PI is conditional on the approval by the Dean and provost, and upon the availability of departmental and other necessary resources. In the SoM, Emeritus professors generally are not allowed PI status.
  • Space: laboratory and office space may be requested (but are not guaranteed)
  • Requests should be made in writing to chair, then forwarded to the Dean, then Provost
  • Requests due within 3 months of onset of life event
    • Proactive requests encouraged (retroactive requests discouraged)
  • Granted for life events that can be expected to markedly delay the research process
  • 3-year overall limit on tenure clock relief
  • Calculation of maximum accumulated tenure clock relief excludes relief associated with parental leave. Parental leaves are unlimited
TABLE: Tenure Clock Relief for Specific Situations
Parental Leave (each parent is eligible if both parents are untenured faculty and are significantly engaged in caring for the new child) Automatic 1 year relief No limit on tenure clock extensions for parental leaves
Primary caregiver for parent, child, spouse or domestic partner for serious health conditions (as defined by FMLA) 1 semester relief
per event
Max two extensions
Serious health condition (defined by FMLA) of faculty member Max two semesters
relief per event
Max two extensions
Death of parent, child, spouse or domestic partner One semester relief event Max two extensions
Catastrophic residential property loss One semester relief per event Max two extensions
Other personal or family priority approved via Flexible Work Arrangements (FWA) policy 3-months relief for
each year of FWA
Max two extensions
Specialized experience or training, or significantly increased administrative duties   These extensions do not count toward the maximum number of extensions allowed (2-6 above), but overall limit to tenure clock relief for all reasons is 3 years
Flexible Work Arrangements (FWA) 3 months per year of FWA (note that page 4-15 of FHB states that relief is prorated to percent effort during part time status) 3 year limit on tenure clock relief



  • Non-tenured faculty must receive letter of non-renewal no later than Jan 15 of the year of their non-renewal
  • If unable to provide notice by Jan 15, Dean’s approval for non-renewal is required. If approved by Dean, the University will “pay the incumbent the appropriate fraction of his or her academic year’s salary in lieu of notice.”


  • Vacation
    • 22 days per year subject to leave requests being made at least 3 months in advance
    • Vacation time is not an accrued benefit and may not be carried over from year to year
    • Unused vacation is not paid out at termination or any other time
    • If terms of an individual member agreement conflict with PDC vacation policy, the terms of the agreement control
  • • Short Term Disability Policy (STDP)
    • All PDC faculty enrolled in the Long Term Disability (LTD) policy through the PDC are automatically enrolled in STDP
    • Members may “opt out” of STDP benefit by waiving their right to participate
    • If STDP is declined, faculty member is not eligible for PDC paid Maternity/Adoption/Paternity benefit
    • Up to 12 weeks of coverage at 60% PDC salary following a 7-day waiting period
  • • Maternity Leave:
    • Short Term Disability Policy provides 8 weeks paid leave.
    • Pay under the Short Term Disability Policy is currently 60% of PDC salary, paid by the disability insurance company. This payment is TAX-FREE. If member is not enrolled in the PDC Short Term Disability Plan (STDP), there is no paid maternity leave
    • For mother’s recovery from childbirth and care of the newborn child, as determined by the STDP
    • In addition to paid leave under the STDP, the PDC adopts the Duke University FMLA policy, so additional unpaid leave may be available to members if FMLA leave has not already been exhausted.
  • • Paternity Leave:
    • 5 consecutive business days at 100% pay, paid by PDC and taxable to Member
    • Must be enrolled in PDC Short Term Disability Plan (STDP)
    • For any parent* of a newborn child, who did not give birth
    • In addition to paid leave under the Paternity policy, the PDC adopts the Duke University FMLA policy, so additional unpaid leave may be available to members if eligible and FMLA leave has not already been exhausted.
  • • Adoption Leave:
    • 8 weeks paid leave at 100% pay, paid by PDC and taxable to Member
    • Must be enrolled in PDC Short Term Disability Plan (STDP)
    • For the purpose of adoption proceedings (including necessary pre-adoption travel) and initial parent-child bonding, provided that the Member is the primary caregiver of the adopted child
    • In addition to paid leave under the Adoption policy, the PDC adopts the Duke University FMLA policy, so additional unpaid leave may be available to members if eligible and FMLA leave has not already been exhausted.

*For purposes of this policy, “parent” includes a biological parent, a step-parent, or anyone who will live in the same household as the newborn child and take on the duties normally associated with parenthood.