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Massachusetts Society of Professors

The Union of Faculty and Librarians at UMass Amherst

Work-Life Policies

An MSP member with her newborn on parental leave

For over a decade the MSP has made work-life policies a top priority.  We have negotiated with the administration to create excellent policies around parental leave, sick leave, family medical leave, partner hiring, and other benefits that make it possible for faculty and librarians to have full lives as well as careers.  With changing gender roles and family forms, MSP has argued that faculty recruitment and retention requires university support for work-life balance.  

Because of the MSP’s efforts over many years – and thanks to the hundreds of faculty who came out in support of parental leave, childcare, and other crucial benefits – UMass Amherst has been recognized as a leader among research universities in supporting work-life balance.

Over the course of our careers, nearly all faculty and librarians will need flexibility to adjust the balance between our academic and personal lives – whether for the birth of a child, personal illness or disability, or the illness or death of a spouse, partner, or parent.  Through MSP, faculty and librarians have won rights and benefits that offer support in these situations.

MSP strongly encourages faculty and librarians to take advantage of the contractual rights listed below.  When we exercise our rights, we make it more acceptable for others to do the same.  Work-life policies also make it easier for excellent and diverse faculty and librarians, especially women and people of color, to stay in academia and at UMass, benefiting colleagues and students for years to come.

Work-Life Policies for Faculty and Librarians at UMass Amherst

Faculty and librarians have the right to four days of paid bereavement leave for the death of a family member, or one day for the death of a partner’s family member.

Full-time bargaining unit members and part-time bargaining unit members with appointments of 50% time or more can take a leave of absence with pay for a maximum of four (4) days upon evidence of the death of a spouse, child, stepchild, parent, step-parent, brother, sister, grandparent, grandchild, spouse's parent, a person for whom the employee is the legal guardian, a person for whom the employee is primarily responsible for making funeral arrangements or a person living in the employee's household. This leave may be used, at the option of the employee, within thirty (30) calendar days from said death. In extraordinary circumstances, at the discretion of the University, bereavement leave may be used after thirty (30) calendar days from the date of death. An MSP member shall be granted one (1) day of leave without loss of pay to attend the funeral of the brother, sister, grandparent or grandchild of the employee's spouse.

Contract language:

Article 27.3.6, Bereavement Leave

Tenure-track faculty are eligible for a one-year delay of the Tenure Decision Year (TDY) related to the care of a family or household member who is seriously ill.

The tenure decision year of a non-tenured faculty member who is facing significant care responsibilities may be delayed upon written agreement between the individual and the appointing authority.  Ultimately the Provost's Office has final approval.

To apply for a care postponement of the tenure decision year: submit a request to your department chair or head. Email is fine.

Contract language:

Article 27.13, TDY Changes Related to Family Needs

MSP negotiated a fund to subsidize childcare costs for newly hired tenure-track faculty.

There is a total of $50,000 available for childcare assistance to newly appointed tenure system bargaining unit members in their first three years of employment. In determining allocations of these funds, the Provost will consider such factors as financial need, cost and time period of care needed, equity, other resources available, distance from campus, and other relevant considerations.

To apply for the child care assistance: Complete the electronic application and email it to: academic.personnel@umass.edu.

Contract language:

Article 26.6.1.e, Funds to Support Bargaining Unit Members

MSP members can enroll in pre-tax dependent care accounts to pay for childcare or elder care expenses, reducing federal and state tax liabilities.

Faculty and librarians are eligible for a Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP). Through this benefit, faculty pay for certain dependent care expenses on a pre-tax basis, reducing federal and state income tax liability. Eligible expenses may only be incurred for dependents under 13 years of age for care while you are working -- including day care, day camp, after-school programs, nursery school, and babysitting expenses during work hours. You may either use the DCAP program or claim the child care tax credit when you file your taxes, not both. Additionally, if you have an older IRS dependent who lives with you at least 8 hours per day and requires someone to come into the house to assist with day-to-day living, you can claim these expenses through your DCAP.

Contract language:

Article 27.11, Dependent Care Assistance Program

MSP members are eligible for paid leave for 15 days, or unpaid leave for up to six months, to attend to issues resulting from domestic violence.

Full-time bargaining unit members and part-time bargaining unit members with appointments of 50% time or more shall be granted fifteen days of paid leave (and up to six months of unpaid leave) to attend to issues resulting from domestic violence.

Contract language:

Article 27.4, Domestic Violence Policy

Guarantees 12 weeks leave for illness, or for illness of spouse, child, or parent.  FMLA guarantees unpaid leave but MSP has won the right to paid leave through the sick leave bank.

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 provides up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave during any 12-month period. To be eligible, employees must have been employed by the University for at least 12 months and must have worked at least 1250 hours during the 12 month period immediately preceding the leave.

An employee must provide certification from a health care provider for a serious health condition of the employee or the employee’s immediate family member, using the FMLA Medical Certification Form.  When the leave is foreseeable and the employee has provided at least 30 days notice, the employee should provide the medical certification before the leave begins.  When this is not possible, the University allows fifteen calendar days following the request for leave for the employee to obtain the medical certification.

To Apply for FMLA leave:

  1. Notify your chair or dean in writing of your need to take leave. Sending an email is fine and should include the information in the HR Medical Leave Request Checklist.
  2. Have your health care provider or the health care provider treating the individual you are caring for fill out a  Certification of Health Care Provider for Employee or a Certification of Health Care Provider for Family Member.
  3. Include the completed Certification of Health Care Provider form with your written request for leave to your chair or dean.
  4. If you do not have enough accrued sick time to cover your leave (your paycheck will show your hours of sick leave), include with request for leave a statement that you wish to apply for time from the MSP Sick Leave Bank.

See also:

See the US Department of Labor site for a complete description of the Family and Medical Leave Act

Paid leave is available through the MSP Sick Leave Bank (SLB) for up to one semester, for care of a household member who is seriously ill.

A bargaining unit member may use five days of his/her sick leave or the MSP Sick Leave Bank (concurrent with any FMLA entitlement) for the purpose of caring for the spouse, child, foster child, stepchild, parent, stepparent, brother, sibling, grandparent, grandchild of either the bargaining unit member or his/her spouse, a person for whom the bargaining unit member is legal guardian, or for a person living in the bargaining unit member’s immediate household who is seriously ill. A request to use 6-90 days from the SLB shall be granted unless a majority of the Sick Leave Committee votes to deny the request or to authorize a lesser amount than that requested. A request to use a total of more than 90 days shall be granted if a majority of the Sick Leave Committee votes to approve the request. If a bargaining unit member’s request for the use of sick leave or Sick Leave Bank for these purposes for more than five days is denied, the bargaining unit member must return to work for at least one full semester (six months in the case of a librarian) before applying again for the same illness for the same individual.

To apply to the for family sick leave:

  1. Notify your chair or dean of your need to take leave. Sending an email is fine.
  2. If requested, submit a physician’s statement to your chair or dean.  
  3. If you need to take family sick leave for more than five days then you will need to apply for FMLA to be used concurrently.
  4. If you do not have enough accrued sick time to cover your leave, apply to the Sick Leave Bank.

Contract language:

Article 27.3.3.f, Use of Sick Leave for Care of Family

MSP members can enroll in pre-tax health care spending accounts to pay for certain health expenses, reducing federal and state tax liabilities.

Faculty and librarians are eligible for a Health Care Spending Account (HCSA). Through this benefit, faculty pay for health care expenses not covered by insurance, on a pre-tax basis, reducing federal and state income tax liability. Eligible expenses include most medical co-pays, eyeglasses and contact lenses not covered by your health insurance or vision discount program, orthodontia and dental expenses not covered by your dental insurance, prescription costs, and more.

Leaves without pay (LWOP) may be granted for research or advanced study, for health reasons, or for family caregiving or other issues.

Leaves without pay may be granted by the University for reasons of health, for advanced study and research, in connection with temporary employment or service which will be of value to the faculty member and the University, or for reasons related to family issues, at the discretion of the administration. During a LWOP, an employee does not receive UMass benefits and is responsible for the full cost of their GIC health insurance premiums. They are not eligible for GIC health insurance until the next open enrollment period (April/May, for insurance beginning July 1).

To apply for a leave without pay:

  • Complete the application.
  • The application will be reviewed by your department Chair/Head, Dean/Director of Libraries, and the Provost, who shall indicate their recommendations/decision on the leave approval form.

Contract language:

Article 27.3.7, Leaves Without Pay

Benefited faculty and librarians with GIC health insurance receive $5,000 of life insurance, with 75 or 80% of the premiums paid by the University. Additional optional term life insurance is available.

Basic life insurance is available through the Group Insurance Commission. Employees with GIC health insurance may enroll for life insurance coverage upon hire into a benefited position, effective the first day of the month following 60 days of employment. The University currently pays 80% of the premium for benefited employees who were hired before 2003, and 75% for those hired after 2003.  Additional optional term life insurance allows faculty to increase their coverage, with the individual bearing all costs.

Benefited faculty and librarians with GIC health insurance have access to long-term disability (LTD) insurance provided by the Group Insurance Commission.  In addition, the MTA offers additional Long-Term Disability.

Optional long-term disability insurance from the Group Insurance Commission, and administered by UNUM, provides benefited faculty 50% income replacement if deemed disabled after 90 days absence from work. The cost of this coverage is paid entirely by the faculty member or librarian, but employees can enroll upon employment with coverage effective the first day of the month following 90 days of benefitted employment (assuming the GIC determines the faculty member insurable). You may apply to enroll in LTD from GIC at any time during the year.

The MTA offers additional long-term disability coverage, also administered by UNUM, which begins after 180 days of continuous disability and provides 60% of your basic monthly earnings, up to $5,000 per month. The cost of UNUM coverage is paid by the faculty member or librarian.

See also:

The GIC website on Long Term Disability

The UMass Human Resources website on LTD

UNUM MTA Benefits for more on the UNUM LTD plan

Librarians and tenure-system faculty are eligible for one semester of paid leave following the birth or adoption of a young child. Non-tenure-track faculty are eligible for paid parental leave after three years working at UMass.

Full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty members are eligible for one semester of paid parental leave.  Librarians with at least four months of service are eligible for one semester, or 24 weeks, of paid parental leave. All non-tenure-track faculty members who are not funded by grants, contracts, or gifts, who have three years of full-time service, and who have appointments that make it possible to fulfill a return obligation are eligible for one semester of paid parental leave.

Leave must be taken the semester in which the child’s birth or adoption occurs or an adjacent semester.  Faculty members and librarians are required to use accrued sick leave but anyone with insufficient accrued sick leave may draw from the Sick Leave Bank.

To apply for parental leave:

  1. Submit the electronic Parental Leave Application to your department Chair/Head.
  2. Attach to the electronic application or email, a scan of the child’s birth certificate, adoption certificate, or letter from your doctor indicating the expected or actual date of birth.
  3. If you have exhausted your own sick leave time and will need to use the Sick Leave Bank, you do not need to fill out an additional application other than the Parental Leave Application.

Contract language:

Article 27.3.5, Parental Leave

Partners of faculty and librarians can be considered for tenure-track or non-tenure-track positions, in order to recruit or retain tenure-system faculty.

Partners of candidates for faculty and librarian positions may be hired as faculty, librarians or administrative staff as part of this program. Waivers of search may be granted when partner employment is part of a hiring offer resulting from a national search, or is part of an attempt to retain a current academic employee. All participants hired under the Partner Employment Program must be fully qualified for their hiring status and must be approved by the host units. Partner positions shall be funded for the initial contract period or for three years.

Faculty and librarians on 12-month calendar-year appointments are eligible for up to three personal days each year.

After a year of service, librarians and full-time faculty members on 12-month calendar-year appointments shall receive three paid personal leave days each January for use during that calendar year. This amount shall be pro-rated for faculty members whose appointments begin after January 1. Personal leave must be used by the end of the calendar year, or it will be forfeited. For part-time faculty members and librarians with appointments of 50% time or more, this leave shall be pro-rated based on percentage of appointment. Faculty members on academic-year contracts and librarians with appointments of less than 50% time are not eligible for personal leave.

Contract language:

Article 27.3.2, Personal Days

Any MSP member who takes a paid Parental Leave is automatically granted a one-year delay of the Tenure Decision Year (TDY). If the faculty member wants to reinstate the original TDY, they may always do so.

The tenure decision year of an untenured faculty member who becomes the biological or adoptive parent of a child under five years of age will be delayed for one year. Delay of the TDY is automatic when you apply for Parental Leave, unless you opt out.  When applying for Parental Leave, include the requested documentation as proof of birth or adoption: a scan of the child’s birth certificate, adoption certificate, or letter from your doctor indicating the expected or actual date of birth. If you later decide to reinstate your original tenure decision year, simply notify your chair/head that you are exercising your right to return to your original TDY.

Contract language:

Article 27.3.5.g, Postponement and Restoration of TDY for Parental Status

MSP members have access to short term disability insurance provided by the MTA and administered by UNUM.

Short-term disability insurance from UNUM begins after 30 days of continuous disability and provides 60% of your basic weekly earnings, up to $1,150 per month. The cost of UNUM coverage is paid by the faculty members. Short term disability coverage can transition smoothly to long term disability coverage, if needed, without a lapse in benefits.

Faculty and librarians accrue sick leave each year, and can use paid sick days when ill.

Full-time librarians accrue 4.53 hours of sick leave in each two-week payroll period, up to fifteen days per year. Full-time faculty members on calendar-year appointments accrue 4.61 hours of sick leave in each two-week payroll period, up to fifteen days per year. Full-time faculty members on academic-year appointments shall accrue 3.07 hours of sick leave in each two-week payroll period, up to ten days per year. For part-time bargaining unit members with appointments of 50% FTE or more, accrual is pro-rated based on percentage and length of appointment. Bargaining unit members with appointments of less than 50% FTE are not eligible for sick leave.

Notification of absence due to illness must be given as early as possible on the first day of absence. For any period of absence of more than three days due to illness, the University may require a physician’s certificate.

Faculty who exhaust personal sick leave can use the Sick Leave Bank in case of their own illness or the illness of an immediate family member.

Upon return to work following sick leave in excess of five consecutive working days, the University may require a physical examination to determine the bargaining unit member’s fitness to perform his/her duties.

To Apply for Sick Leave:

  1. Notify your chair or dean of your need to take leave. Sending an email is fine.
  2. If you need to take sick leave for more than 5 five days then you will need to apply for FMLA to be used concurrently.
  3. If you do not have enough accrued sick time to cover your leave, apply to the Sick Leave Bank.

Contract language:

Article 27.3.3, Sick Leave

Faculty and librarians are automatically enrolled in the MSP Sick Leave Bank, and can draw on the bank for paid leave in case of their own illness or illness of an immediate family member.

Faculty and librarians with UMass benefits are eligible for the Sick Leave Bank (SLB), effective one month after date of hire. After the exhaustion of personal sick leave, the Sick Leave Bank can be used for any bona fide illness or disability.  

A member is entitled to ninety days of sick leave from the bank unless a majority of the Sick Leave Bank Committee votes to deny the request or to authorize a lesser amount. The number of days authorized by the Committee may be extended if a majority of the Sick Leave Bank Committee, acting on a request from the member, votes to extend.

A department chairperson/head or the Sick Leave Bank Committee may request at any time that any member who is drawing sick leave from a Sick Leave Bank submit a physician's statement certifying the medical ground for sick leave.

To apply to the SLB, submit the following items to your department head/chair (email is fine):

1. Written request to draw from the SLB identifying:

  • the dates for which you are requesting leave and the date you intend to return to work,
  • if requesting an intermittent leave, the work schedule you propose. (Your supervisor may require a different schedule.  For example, rather than release from teaching responsibilities, the supervisor may release you from non-teaching duties.)

2. Copy of the Certification of Health Care Provider for an Employee's Serious Health Condition form submitted to your department with your request for leave. If you are requesting time to care for a family member, theCertification of Health Care Provider for a Family Member's Serious Health Condition must be completed by the treating provider and submitted with the SLB request in lieu of the Certification of Health Care Provider for an Employee's Serious Health Condition.

Contract language:

Article 27.3.3.g, Sick Leave Bank

A bargaining unit member may use up to a maximum of ten days of accrued sick leave in a calendar year for adoption and foster care preparations.

A bargaining unit member may use up to a maximum of ten days of accrued sick leave in a calendar year for the purpose of attending to necessary preparations and/or legal proceedings related to the employee's adoption of a child or related to the foster care of DSS children, such as foster care reviews, court hearings, and MAPS training for pre-adoptive parents.

Contract language:

Article 27.3.3.g

Faculty and librarians may take up to a total of 24 hours of leave within a 12-month period to attend a child’s school activity, or to accompany a child or elderly relative to a doctor’s appointment.

The Small Necessities Leave Act is a federal law permitting employees who have worked at least 1,250 hours for that employer in the last 12 months to take up to 24 hours of unpaid leave every 12 months for a child's school activities, a child's doctor or dentist appointment, or an elder relative's doctor or dentist appointment or other appointment related to the elder's care.

See also:

The Mass Gov site information on the Small Necessities Leave Act.

A fund negotiated by the MSP provides assistance to new faculty and librarians whose transition costs to UMass otherwise have not been fully reimbursed.

MSP previously had negotiated “gap” health insurance during the 60-day waiting period for GIC health insurance, which was deemed to be in conflict with the Affordable Care Act; this transition fund takes its place. An invitation to apply to the fund is sent to eligible new employees by the Provost's office. Funds awarded are determined by the number of applications received.

Partial tuition amounting to approximately 50% of total cost is waived for MSP members, our partners and children at UMass and other Massachusetts public higher education institutions.

Tuition Benefit at UMass Campuses: Full-time benefited employees receive a tuition credit per semester for regularly scheduled courses. Spouses, domestic partners and dependent children of benefited employees with 2+ full-time years of University service are eligible for a 50% tuition credit for regularly scheduled courses. Spouses, domestic partners and dependent children of benefited employees with less than 2 full-time years of University service are eligible for a partial tuition credit.

Regularly scheduled courses exclude Continuing and Professional Education courses.

Tuition waivers do not apply to physician training at UMass Worcester Medical School. Tuition waivers for graduate level courses are subject to applicable taxes.

Tuition Remission at non-UMass campuses: Benefited UMass Amherst employees are eligible for tuition remission for courses offered at other Massachusetts public institutions of higher education.

See also:

The HR website on tuition benefits

The HR website on the tuition waiver and remission policy for the Board of Trustees Policy

Contract language:

Article 27.10, Tuition Remission and Fee Waiver Policies

Librarians and faculty on 12-month calendar-year appointments are eligible for up to 22 vacation days each year.

Faculty members on academic-year appointments and faculty members and librarians with appointments of less than 50% time are not eligible for vacation leave. Full-time faculty members on calendar year appointments will accrue 6.76 hours of vacation time each two-week pay period. Librarians will accrue 6.34 hours of vacation time each two-week period. In both cases accrual is not to exceed twenty-two days per year. For part-time faculty members and librarians with appointments of 50% time or more, this accrual shall be pro-rated based on percentage and length of appointment. One additional day a year shall be added to the vacation leave accrual upon the completion of five, ten, and twenty years of service, respectively.

Unused vacation leave can be carried over for use during the following year, but accrued vacation leave exceeding sixty-four days will be forfeited. Faculty should request the use of vacation leave in advance; unused vacation leave will be forfeited if a faculty leaves the University or is converted to an academic-year appointment, with some exceptions.

Contract language:

Article 27.3.1, Vacation Leave

Work-Life Information and Resources

For Information on Health Insurance, Dental Insurance and Optical Discounts, visit our Member Benefits page.

The Institute for Teaching Excellence and Faculty Development
http://www.umass.edu/tefd/

Human Resources
http://www.umass.edu/humres/

Office of the Provost
http://www.umass.edu/provost/

The Faculty and Staff Assistance Program
http://www.umass.edu/humres/faculty-and-staff-assistance-program

The Academic Career Network
https://www.fivecolleges.edu/acn/

The UMass Center for Early Education and Care
www.Umass.edu/ceec

The Massachusetts Child Care Resources Online
http://machildcareresourcesonline.org/

UMass Family Resource Center
https://www.umass.edu/ofr/education.php

Amherst Area Sittercity Program, to find care nationwide
https://www.sittercity.com/babysitters/ma/amherst

The STEM Travel Family Initiative
http://stemfamilytravel.org/

AAUP Statement of Principles on Family Responsibilities and Academic Work
http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubsres/policydocs/contents/workfam-stmt.htm