Communication #15: Effect of Leave Without Pay on the Probationary Period (AY2023-24)

Last revised August 2019


In general, a leave without pay is granted only when leave is in the best interest of the University.  (See Leaves of Absence Without Pay, Communication No. 20.)  Both the department head/chair and the dean/director (serving at the level of Dean) must certify that this criterion is met.  For leaves requested under the Family and Medical Leave provisions, different rules apply.  (See Family and Medical Leave Policy, Section IX/A-10 of the Campus Administrative Manual.)

The University’s Statutes, Article IX, Section 7.g., provide that “Time spent on a leave of absence without pay does not ordinarily count toward the probationary period of a faculty member on definite tenure….”  This policy elaborates the circumstances encompassed by this language.


The primary consideration for whether time spent on leave without pay will count toward the probationary period is whether the activities to be undertaken are conducive to the scholarly development of the faculty member.

Time spent on a leave of absence without pay is not counted toward the probationary period when the leave is the result of personal or professional events that detrimentally affect the individual’s ability to fulfill his or her responsibilities as a member of the faculty.  However, a leave that permits the faculty member to continue his or her scholarship or creative activity will count toward the probationary period when these activities can be pursued at a level comparable to or better than what would be possible without the leave.  Activities falling into this category include visiting appointments at other institutions that require teaching and/or research services, or fellowships such as those awarded by the National Science Foundation.

Calendar of Events

A request to have the tenure clock stopped while on leave without pay must be initiated at the time the leave is requested.  (Please note that the appointee’s request, if approved, cannot be reversed thereafter, nor will a tenure rollback normally be granted at a later time in recognition of the circumstances leading to the leave.)

A request for a leave of absence without pay should be submitted well in advance of the date—at least a semester, where possible—when the requested leave is to begin.  The timing of the request should take into consideration the need for the unit to make adjustments for covering the faculty member’s responsibilities.


The form entitled Service Toward the Completion of the Probationary Period, included here as Attachment 1, should be completed appropriately, attached to the form entitled Faculty and Academic Professional Leave of Absence Without Pay, Attachment 2, and sent through the appropriate administrative channels. If an interruption of the probationary period is requested, the appointee should prepare the application for a tenure rollback. (See Policy on Interruptions of the Probationary Period (Tenure Code Rollbacks), Communication No. 16.)

Paperwork must be submitted through the appropriate administrative channels.  If appropriate, the department head/chair and the dean/director should address a request to stop the tenure clock as integral to the request for a leave without pay.  If those in the reporting chain do not approve the request for stopping the tenure clock, the leave may or may not be approved.


Questions concerning this policy should be directed to Illinois Human Resources (333-3101).