Communication #20: Leaves (AY2023-24)

Last revised July 2020


This Communication describes the policies and procedures around Leaves of Absence Without Pay (LWOP) and Involuntary Administrative Leave.

Leaves of Absence without Pay (LWOP) (Faculty and Academic Professionals)

There are many situations in which a one-semester or one-year leave of absence without pay may be justified, and a reasonably flexible attitude on this matter should be adopted, so long as the best interests of the University are served by granting such a leave. Leaves for longer periods, or frequently recurring leaves, even if not in consecutive years, normally are not in the best interests of the University. Deans and department heads are urged to give careful consideration to requests for leaves without pay.

Please note that requests for leave that meet the guidelines under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) must be approved for up to 12 weeks of paid or unpaid leave (or up to 26 weeks for the care of a covered service member) during each consecutive 12-month period. FMLA leaves are a separate process and not covered by this policy. Consult the Campus Administrative Manual, Section IX/A-10 for that policy and the FMLA leave form.


Leaves of absence without pay should be infrequent and approved only with appropriate justification, establishing that the leave is in the best interests of the University. Multiple approvals are necessary to process a leave request. The attached form (Attachment 1) should be used when requesting a leave.

The following points summarize the basic philosophy concerning leaves without pay:

  1. If the leave is requested for personal or family medical reasons or for “qualifying exigency leave” related to a covered family member’s call to active military duty, and the applicant is eligible under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993, the unit must approve such a leave for up to 12 weeks (or up to 26 weeks for the care of a covered service member). See Campus Administrative Manual policy on Family and Medical Leave, Section IX/A – 10, for more details.
  2. Requests for all other leaves that do not fall under FMLA should be approved only if they are in the best interests of the University. The request of an individual for leave should not be approved without good reason—whatever its proposed duration.
  3. It is the obligation of the head of the department/unit to justify approval of the leave by indicating: (a) what provision will be made to have the applicant’s work done during the leave; (b) why the department’s program, considered overall, will not be adversely affected; and (c) why granting this leave is in the best interest of the University.
  4. Faculty who have accepted a position at another institution will, in most instances, not be granted a leave. If such a leave is requested, the dean should investigate not only the particular request but the general staff situation of the department, making sure that the request is justifiable, that the request is in the best interests of the University, and that there is a reasonable chance that the faculty will return to the University. Note that approval of the Provost is still required. A leave of absence for two consecutive years primarily to teach at another institution, or any leave to accept an administrative position at another institution, should not ordinarily be approved and under no circumstances should it be approved unless the University’s best interests clearly dictate such an exception. If the dean or other recommending administrator believes, after careful inquiry, that an exception to this rule should be allowed, the reasons for such an exception should be stated in a letter to the Provost.
  5. Recurring requests for leaves of absence—even when not for consecutive years—should not be approved without very strong justification. Faculty members cannot meet their obligations to the University, and especially those to graduate students, while teaching at other institutions or without maintaining continuity of presence at the University.


  1. The employee determines the period for his/her leave request and completes the Leave of Absence Without Pay Request form. 
  2. Pre-tenure tenure-stream faculty must attach to the leave request the form that indicates whether service will be counted toward the completion of the probationary period. (See attachments.) The leave request will not be processed without this form. 
  3. The employee discusses the leave with the unit executive officer. If the leave is approved, the unit executive officer should sign the form and attach a letter of support to the form.  
  4. The form is submitted to the College Dean for review and signature.  
  5. The leave request form is submitted to the HR Policy and Administration area of Illinois Human Resources for review of information. That office secures approval from the Provost, as designated by the Chancellor, for faculty leaves.  
  6. Illinois Human Resources prepares a leave approval letter with copies to the Board of Trustees, University Payroll and Benefits, the department, college, and school if appropriate, as well as to the individual’s personnel file, maintained by Illinois Human Resources.

Involuntary Administrative Leave (Tenure Stream Faculty)

In order to safeguard the interests of the campus community, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (“University”), on occasion, may need to place a member of its faculty on a temporary, paid administrative leave while it reviews whether the faculty member poses a risk to themselves or to others or while it investigates allegations of misconduct that have been brought against that faculty member. This policy applies to the University’s tenure system faculty as defined within Article II, Section 3(a)(1) of the University of Illinois Statutes and defines the circumstances and the manner under which such a non-punitive leave may be imposed.


Both the University’s Chancellor and Provost have been delegated by the President of the University of Illinois System with the authority to temporarily place a faculty member on paid administrative leave whenever they, individually or collectively, have reason to believe that such leave is necessary because: (a) the faculty member’s presence in the workplace presents a significant risk of physical harm being incurred to the faculty member, to others within the workplace or to University property or facilities, or (b) an investigation that has been or is being initiated into whether the faculty member has violated University policy and could result in the imposition of a sanction or other remedial action and the leave is necessary to maintain the integrity of the investigation process, protect University resources, prevent the destruction of evidence, or avoid a potential continuing violation of the policy while the investigation is being conducted.  

Alleged conduct that could give rise to administrative leave includes, without limitation: 

  1. Threats of death or physical harm against a faculty member, 
  2. Observed dissociative or paranoid behavior, expressed suicidal or homicidal ideation or thoughts, or other behavior that calls into question the mental health of the faculty member, 
  3. Research misconduct by a faculty member, 
  4. The misappropriation of institutional or grant funds or monies by a faculty member, 
  5. Behavior by a faculty member towards a student, colleague or others that can be construed as threatening or menacing, 
  6. Inappropriate sexual behavior, including sexual harassment, unwelcomed sexual touching or sexual assault, by a faculty member against a student, colleague or others, 
  7. Conduct that could lead to the filing of felony criminal charges against a faculty member; or   
  8. Conduct by a faculty member that obstructs the ability of the administration of the faculty member’s academic unit to function.


In determining whether to impose administrative leave on a faculty member, consideration shall be given to interim actions lesser than leave from of all University duties such as a temporary reassignment of duties or other appropriate modification. When imposing an administrative leave, the Chancellor or Provost, or their designees, will confer in advance, if practicable, with the Chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee regarding the factual basis and the need for the faculty member’s removal. When consultation beforehand is not practicable, the Chancellor or Provost, or their designees, may act unilaterally in imposing the administrative leave with the understanding that consultation with the Chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee will occur as soon as practicable thereafter. At the direction of the Chancellor or Provost, or their designees, the dean of the college or the head of the department to which the affected faculty member is assigned will notify the faculty member in writing of the leave and will include in that written notification, (1) the starting date of the leave, (2) a summary of the alleged conduct or events giving rise to the leave, (3) any restrictions, modifications or limitations as to access or duties during the leave, (4) a summary of the process for responding to or addressing the allegations giving rise to the leave, and (5) the circumstances under which the leave is anticipated to end. 

The Chancellor or Provost, or their designees, shall limit the duration of the administrative leave to the shortest time period necessary to fulfill the purpose of the leave. Accordingly, a faculty member who has been placed on administrative leave for safety or mental health reasons must be returned to duty as soon as the safety or mental health concerns have been alleviated. Similarly, a faculty member who has been placed on administrative leave for investigative purposes should be returned to duty upon the conclusion of a timely completed investigation unless the investigation results in the initiation of disciplinary proceedings against the faculty member. In this situation, the ability and authority for the faculty member’s continued removal from duty will be governed by the policies addressing those disciplinary proceedings.


Questions about the leave of absence without pay policy should be directed to Illinois Human Resources (333-7466).  

Questions regarding involuntary administrative leave policy should be directed to the Office of the Provost (333-6677).