Faculty Rights Tip: Sabbatical Leaves and ‘the 12% Rule’
Article 27 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) affords all full-time faculty – both lecturers and tenured faculty – the opportunity to apply for sabbatical leaves, which both CFA and the CSU recognize are beneficial to the CSU and to the development of teacher-scholars in their research, scholarship, and creative activities as well as in their instructional activities.
Article 27.2 states that, “A full-time faculty unit employee shall be eligible for a sabbatical leave if (they have) served full-time for six (6) years at that campus in the preceding seven (7) year period prior to the leave and at least six (6) years after any previous sabbatical leave or difference in pay leave. Credit granted towards the completion of the probationary period for service elsewhere shall also apply towards fulfilling the eligibility requirements for a sabbatical. A leave of absence without pay or service in an academic administrative appointment excluded from the bargaining unit shall not constitute a break in service for eligibility requirements.”
Under Article 27.5 of the CBA, faculty are guaranteed to be reviewed by a “Professional Leave Committee” (PLC) of their tenured faculty peers, who make recommendations for sabbatical awards to the appropriate administrator. Campus PLCs are under the purview of the Academic Senates, which control how the committee is formed, populated, and run.
Faculty who take sabbatical leave continue to receive health, dental, and other benefits provided by the CSU and are considered to be in “work status,” just as if they were not on sabbatical (see Article 27.16). Moreover, faculty on sabbatical leave continue, according to Article 27.17, “to accrue sick leave, vacation, and service credit toward service salary increase eligibility, eligibility toward promotion, if applicable, and seniority.”
Article 27.10 states that, “If there are a sufficient number of faculty unit employees eligible for sabbatical leave who meet the conditions of this Article, then a campus shall grant no fewer sabbatical leaves than twelve percent (12%) of the total number of campus faculty unit employees eligible to apply for such leaves in that year in addition to those faculty approved for a sabbatical at one-half (1/2) of full salary. Sabbaticals deferred according to 27.8 shall be counted in the year they are taken.”
Finally, Article 27.18 – new language in the 2022-24 CBA – states that, “A faculty unit employee on sabbatical leave shall not be directed to engage in teaching or service to the department, college, or University while on leave.” This language does not prohibit a faculty member from participating voluntarily on a committee or on Academic Senate, for example. However, it does prohibit administration from requiring such labor from faculty.
Currently, sabbatical leave policies, procedures, and criteria are determined at the campus level. If you feel your campus is not granting the minimum required sabbaticals (12 percent) or is incorrectly calculating eligibility, get in touch with your local Faculty Rights team and explore a possible information request on sabbatical eligibility calculations and/or award rates.
In the past, campuses found to have violated “the 12% rule” as a result of an information request were required to retroactively award sabbaticals to faculty who had been denied the award.
If you are denied a sabbatical, consider talking and sharing stories (and your Professional Leave Committee evaluations) with your colleagues who applied (both successfully and unsuccessfully) for a sabbatical award.
Get in touch with your local CFA chapter Faculty Rights team, and see if there’s a path for you through the grievance process. Find your representative here.
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