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Taking a sabbatical

One of the rewards of academic life is the option to take a sabbatical — to be engaged in an intensive program of research or study, and so become a more effective teacher and scholar. During your sabbatical, you may receive all or a portion of your usual pay. Here’s how to request a sabbatical and what happens to your benefits during and afterward.

Find out about the sabbatical provisions that apply to you.

If you’re an academic appointee in good standing holding a sabbatical-eligible title, you may apply for a sabbatical once you’ve accrued enough service credit. You’ll find a list of eligible titles in the Academic Personnel Manual, APM – 740PDF.

You accumulate credit toward sabbatical eligibility for each full quarter or semester in which you work at least half time. Your service needs to be continuous; if you leave UC and later return, you’ll forfeit any sabbatical leave credit accrued before you left.

If you’re an academic year appointee, your sabbatical begins and ends on the same dates as your quarter or semester. The length of sabbatical for which you’re eligible depends on your length of service.

Different salary levels apply depending on your length of service and the type of sabbatical you take. Look for details in charts I-IV in APM – 740.

For more specifics, check APM – 740; if you have questions, contact your Academic Personnel Office.

Develop a sabbatical plan.

You’ll need to write a detailed proposal of the project you want to pursue while on sabbatical. APM – 740 covers the details.

Submit the application.

You’ll need to submit an application and project proposal to your department chair. If your department chair supports the application, it will proceed to the Chancellor or designee for approval.

Make sure your benefits are in order.

During a sabbatical, most of your benefits continue as usual, unless you cancel them.

If you plan to continue your benefits, check with your benefits representative to see if you need to submit an insurance continuation form. The process for enrolling or disenrolling family members in medical benefits is unchanged during a sabbatical.

If you decide to cancel benefits, contact your benefits representative and keep in mind that you’ll have to re-enroll when you return. Remember that for certain benefits you’ll have to re-establish eligibility after your sabbatical and that for others you may have to wait until the next Open Enrollment to re-enroll. If you do cancel benefits, your coverage ends the last day of the last month for which premiums or contributions have been made.

If you’re taking any leave before or after your sabbatical, take a look at the Leave Without Pay fact sheet and the Taking Paid Leave roadmap for information about benefits during those portions of your break.

If you’re a fiscal-year appointee, you’ll continue to accrue vacation leave. You’ll need to use the vacation accrued during your sabbatical while you’re on sabbatical; leave earned before then can be carried over.

Here’s more on how specific benefits may change during a sabbatical:

  • Medical Coverage: If your sabbatical salary isn’t enough to cover medical or other insurance premiums, contact your benefits office to arrange direct payment of premiums. If your medical or dental plan is an HMO and you plan to be away from your plan’s service area for more than two months, contact your benefits representative about transferring to a different plan.
  • Voluntary Disability: If you’re receiving less than fulltime pay, your coverage will be based on your sabbatical salary. Check with your benefits representative about getting an extension so your coverage is tailored to your sabbatical salary.
  • Business Travel Accident insurance: If you’re required to travel on your sabbatical, this coverage continues. If not, it ends on your last active day at work. Check with the Risk Management office to determine the status of your coverage.
  • DepCare and Health Flexible Spending Account contributions continue as long as you’re on pay status.
  • UCRP: If you’re earning less than fulltime pay, your contributions continue based on your sabbatical salary, and your UCRP service credit will be pro-rated. You can purchase service credit after you return. Your contributions and Capital Accumulation Payment (CAP) balance, if any, must remain on deposit.
  • 403(b), 457(b), DC Plans: Your contributions continue unless you cancel them. You can’t contribute pay from another institution to UC’s plans, but you may be able to contribute to a plan at another institution. For the 457(b) and 403(b) plans, the yearly maximum contribution includes your contributions to UC’s plans and another institution’s plan.
  • 403(b) loans: You can suspend repayments for the duration of your sabbatical. If you don’t, your deductions continue. If you’re receiving less than fulltime pay and it’s not enough to cover your loan payments, you’ll need to make additional monthly payments or repay the loan in full. Your Fidelity representative can help with the details.
  • Social Security: Contributions continue based on your sabbatical salary.

When you return to UC, contact your benefits representative to review your benefits and (if necessary) restart them.

If you continued coverage, at some locations it continues automatically. At others, you’ll need to re-enroll.

  • If you didn’t continue coverage, for most benefits you’ll need to re-enroll during the next Open Enrollment.
  • If you didn’t continue voluntary disability because your paid time dropped below 17.5 hours per week, you can re-enroll within a new 31-day PIE. Depending on the length of your leave, you may be able to choose a higher level of coverage.
  • If you canceled your auto/homeowner/renter’s insurance, you may restart it any time.

Arrange to purchase UCRP service credit for the time you were away, if you choose.

The sooner you start, the less it will cost you.

If you had a UCRP service credit purchase in place previously, it should start automatically if you’ve been on leave less than six months. If your sabbatical was longer, contact your Payroll representative.

Review your direct deposit statement carefully.

It’s your responsibility to let your benefits or payroll representative know about any mistakes.

Provide the chancellor with a report.

The report should summarize the results of your sabbatical and be submitted within 90 days after your return. The APM – 740 provides all the details of what’s expected. The report will be submitted with any proposal for future promotions or merit increases.

Returning to UC after sabbatical leave.

Sabbatical leave requests are approved with the understanding that you will return to active University service. You will need to refund some or all of the salary received during your sabbatical if for some reason you do not return. APM – 740 explains this provision and other conditions that may affect your decision. Also, sabbatical leave is not granted to those who plan to retire immediately following the sabbatical. Repayment provisions apply to those who unexpectedly retire immediately after sabbatical leave. Contact your Academic Personnel office if you have questions.

If you decide to retire, contact the Retirement Administration Service Center.

You should do so before you elect to retire, since a sabbatical may affect your retirement benefits. It’s also a good idea to review the Retirement Handbook.