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Leaves for Professors and Academic Staff

Cornell University may allow professors and academic staff to take leave from appointed responsibilities under certain circumstances, including arrangements that support a balance between family life and university responsibilities.

The university strongly encourages academic managers and academics to work together to support family-friendly arrangements that anticipate programmatic imperatives and to be flexible in unanticipated family situations.

The terms and conditions governing a leave differ with the individual's academic role, the circumstances of the leave, and the source of funds.

Policy details


The administrative office of the appropriate unit, center, library, or program

Revision History:

October 11, 2022: Updated for details regarding disabilities.

November 8, 2021: Changed the date when leave balances that exceed the maximum accumulation are automatically adjusted to the appropriate maximum from October 15 to December 31. Removed the concept of an "accrual year" and the associated dates.

December 17, 2020: Updated to maintain compliance with the New York Paid Sick Leave law.

July 1, 2020: Updates to indicate that medical documentation is required for absences longer than one month; determination of leave eligibility has transitioned to a 12-month rolling lookback period to align with current federal regulations; and the management of medical leaves for all academic positions has transitioned to Medical Leaves Administration.

July 3, 2019: Added clarifying language to "Vacation" section regarding accruals.

April 16, 2019: Added "National Museum of Mathematics" to section entitled "Prestigious Fellowships Leave."

March 14, 2019: Added a parenthetical phrase, "(or final six months, for professors with appointments of 12-months per year)," to note under section "Family and Medical Leave (FML), Including Cornell Academic Parental Workload Relief"/"Cornell Academic Parental Workload Relief"/"Tenure Clock." Corrected typographical errors.

March 4, 2019: The university approved a carveout for librarians and archivists regarding vacation, and changes were made to Appendix A, "Vacation."

January 25, 2019: Changed "Cornell Academic Parental Leave" to "Cornell Academic Parental Workload Relief" throughout. Added notes to clarify "co-equal caregiving parent," the workweek, and which individuals are responsible to decide whether tenure clock extensions are appropriate. Added Workload Relief Request Form, its requirements, and links to it.

June 19, 2018: Updated the Holidays and Recesses section on page 18 to reflect the revisions to the university's academic calendar.

May 3, 2018: Added Schomburg Center Fellowships to the "Prestigious Fellowship Leave (Professorial)" section on page 31. Also updated hyperlinks throughout.