What is a sabbatical?

A sabbatical is a paid leave of absence from teaching and service responsibilities for six or 12 months. The Collective Agreement states: "Sabbatical leave is intended to promote high levels of scholarly and professional activity by employees through sustained periods of concentrated study, contemplation, and creative work, and through the extension of the range of contacts of employees to other people, places, experiences, and ideas." (This lyrical text dates from YUFA’s very first collective agreement in 1976.)

Who is eligible for a sabbatical?

Tenure-track or tenured employees are eligible to receive sabbatical credits and are entitled to take sabbatical when they've accumulated six sabbatical credits. YUFA members with Special Renewable Contracts (SRCs) are eligible for only one sabbatical. Members with Contractually Limited Appointments (CLAs) are ineligible.

At the discretion of the Dean, pre-tenure employee with enough sabbatical credits may also take sabbatical leave. This has been most commonly the case with conversion appointees with a long history of teaching service.

How do I get sabbatical credits?

YUFA members receive one "sabbatical credit" for each year of service at York. Years spent on leaves of absence without pay normally carry no credit unless agreed to in writing when the leave is approved.

Your letter of appointment should include credits for earlier academic positions, as follows: 

  • If you are coming from a "full-time" position at another university, you get one credit for every two years of service since either your last sabbatical or your appointment there, whichever is more recent. The maximum is three credits.
  • If you have had a CLA at York, you get one credit for each year of service, to a maximum of four credits.
  • If you have held Type 1 appointments in CUPE 3903, you get one credit for each block of three such appointments, with no more than one credit per year in CUPE. The maximum is six credits.

On what date will my sabbatical begin?

For faculty, sabbaticals usually begin on either July 1 or January 1. For librarians and archivists, they begin on the 1st of the anniversary month of your appointment.

What paperwork do I need to do in connection with my sabbatical?

1. You must write to your Dean/Principal/University Librarian indicating your intent to take the leave and provide, to the extent described in the Collective Agreement, a "general statement" of your planned activities. For faculty, the deadline is 15 months before the normal start of your sabbatical; for librarians and archivists, it is 12 months. If you receive no response within three months, your sabbatical is deemed approved.

  • Articles 20.05 and 20.11 say that should you fail to express your plans to take/advance/delay your sabbatical, you are waiving your entitlement.

If management intends to delay your leave in the interests of scheduling course offerings or library services, you must receive notice in writing 14 months in advance for faculty and nine months in advance for librarians and archivists. If your sabbatical is denied, you must be notified within three months of your request. Don’t worry, such delays and denials are rare.

2. You are supposed to file a report on your leave. For faculty, the deadline is the 1st of November following your return; for librarians and archivists, it is three months following your return.

Can I delay my sabbatical or take it early?

Yes. To do so, you must get the permission of your Dean/Principal/University Librarian.

  • Articles 20.05 and 20.11 say that should you fail to express your plans to take/advance/delay your sabbatical, you are waiving your entitlement.

If an early sabbatical is approved, note that you'll still need a total of six credits before starting to accumulate credits toward your next sabbatical.

Can I take a sabbatical before I receive tenure?

Yes, but the Dean/Principal/University Librarian has the discretion to delay it.

What if I have unused sabbatical credits when I'm nearing my 'normal retirement date'?

Two articles increase your options in the years before your "normal retirement date". The first pertains to pension top-ups and the second to flexibility in how unused sabbatical credits are used.

1. Article 14.05 (a) (i) is available in the five years before your normal retirement date. If you choose this option, the Employer will make pension contributions based on full academic base salary if you do the same, but it also means that you are taking your last sabbatical ever.

  • Does using this article mean that you've given formal notice of your planned retirement? No, but if you use it, you've taken your very last sabbatical - whether you retire the following year or 30 years later! (Of course, if you don't use this clause, the option to top-up pension contributions yourself is still available under clause 20.18 (a).)

2. Article 14.05 (a) (iii) is available in the year immediately preceding your normal retirement date. It says that if you have: 

  • three to five unused credits, you're entitled to take a six-month sabbatical at 80% salary or a 1.0 full course reduction in your teaching load.
  • six or more unused credits, you're entitled to choose between a one-year sabbatical at 80% pay and a six-month sabbatical at 100% pay.
  • one or two unused credits, this article doesn't do anything for you.

Note: effective May 1, 2013, reference above to 80% should be amended to 82.5%.

If you choose this option, you can keep working and accruing sabbatical credits after your normal retirement date, but at that point, your sabbatical credits are reset at zero. If you don't use this clause, that reset doesn't occur.

For more information on Article 14.05, see Appendix R in the 2012-2015 Collective Agreement.

What will my salary and benefits be while I'm on sabbatical?

If it's your first sabbatical leave, whether from York or elsewhere, your pay will generally continue at its normal level. Members with salaries above the YUFA average ($120,140, in 2009-10) should consult clause 20.17 (b)(i), as their sabbatical pay may be less.

Subsequent sabbaticals can be either six-month leaves at 100% pay or regular one-year leaves at 80% pay (note, this amount increases to 82.5% effective May 1, 2013) ... unless, per Article 25.12, the Employer agrees to give you a higher pay rate. For example, some members have bargained for 100% salary during the sabbatical they take after completing a heavy service load.

New in the 2012-15 Collective Agreement, members taking a one-year sabbatical can choose to reduce their salary to 90% in the year preceding and the year of sabbatical (note, this amount increases to 91.25, effective May 1, 2013).

If you have other forms of income during your leave (e.g., external grants or teaching elsewhere), the Employer’s support may be reduced. Consult clause 20.17.

While you’re on sabbatical, all benefits continue as before. Note, however, that your and the Employer's pension contributions are based on your actual earnings. If your sabbatical earnings from York are less than 100% of your regular earnings, you have the option of making up the difference in pension contributions.

What support do YUFA and the Employer provide for sabbaticants' research or salaries?

The Leave Fellowship Fund provides peer-adjudicated grants of up to $12,500.00 or 10% of your salary (although, in practice, awards are often much less) if you're on your 2nd or subsequent sabbatical. You're eligible only if your sabbatical will be for a full year, not if it's for six months. The total amount of the Fund is $275,000.00. The Fund covers research costs associated with sabbatical projects, including travel, supplies, equipment, and research assistance. A committee judges the applications on the need for the funds, the applicant's research record and the proposal.

For more information, please click here.

What if I fall ill or become a parent while on sabbatical?

You should request that your sabbatical arrangements be modified (e.g., suspended) or postponed. If you need assistance in this process, please email [email protected].