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Caregiver leave inequality extends to non-tenure-track faculty

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By Savannah Kuchar     11/12/19 11:33pm

In response to a Thresher story about the discrepancies between staff and faculty, multiple female professors pointed out that despite being faculty, non-tenure-track faculty are not eligible for the same leave benefits that tenure or tenure-track faculty are.

Carissa Zimmerman, a senior lecturer and director of Social Sciences Quantitative Methods Program, said this distinction leaves non-tenure-track faculty feeling overlooked.

“I believe that full-time, benefits-eligible faculty should receive the same caregiver leave, regardless of whether they are on the tenure track or not,” Zimmerman said. 



The Family Medical Leave Act is a United States labor law that guarantees eligible employees 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave within a 12 month period. According to Rice Policy, all employees at Rice University are eligible to receive 80 percent pay during the first five to seven weeks of their leave under the Short-Term Disability Act. The remaining 5-7 weeks of leave are unpaid. The length of the employee’s paid leave depends on the circumstances of their delivery: five weeks for vaginal birth and seven weeks for cesarean section delivery.

According to Rice Policy 417, during the remaining five to seven weeks, staff have the option to use their available paid time off to cover that unpaid period. Non-tenure-track and tenure-track faculty do not have this option as they do not receive paid time off, an exception being non-tenure-track faculty in the research professor ranks, who according to Policy 327 are governed by the same vacation policy as staff.

Rice Policy 204 outlines the Primary Caregiver Leave, which gives eligible faculty the option to take a semester long leave at full pay.  According to Policy 201, tenured and tenure-track faculty and non-tenure-track faculty in the teaching professor ranks are eligible for this benefit. Other non-tenure-track faculty are not eligible for this benefit.

“Rice took a step in the right direction when they extended primary caregiver leave to those in the teaching professor ranks, but the current policy still excludes a large portion of the [non-tenure track] faculty body,” Zimmerman said. “According to the Rice directory, there are currently 20 NTTs in the teaching professor ranks … whereas there are 264 lecturers and 17 senior lecturers.” 



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