Sabbatical Leave Exempt Staff

Department: Human Resources

Subject: Leave Policy for Exempt Staff

Date Issued: June 1, 2009

I. Policy/Procedure

This policy outlines the guidelines for exempt staff sabbatical or study leaves. Leaves are not guaranteed. The needs of the College, the availability of temporary replacements, the identification of resources to support the leave, and the impact on College operations will be considered in the decision-making process.

II. Purpose

The purpose of a leave is to provide an opportunity for study, research, and creative activities that foster professional growth and revitalization, thereby enhancing Luther College. Sabbaticals or study leaves need to be directly related to the staff member’s job responsibilities.

III. Scope

This policy applies to all exempt employees.

IV. Terms and Definitions

Leaves: In order to provide flexibility for the staff members as well as for replacement planning, a leave can be proposed for:

  • One semester (with or without January Term)
  • Full year
  • 2-3 months during a summer
  • January term only

V. Procedures and Guidelines

A. Eligibility

  • Exempt staff are eligible for leave after six years of service and every six years thereafter.
  • Leave may be with or without compensation for up to 12 months, not necessarily 12 consecutive months.
  • Leave time does not accrue if not taken.

B. Leave Application—see Guidelines for Writing Exempt Sabbatical Leave Proposal

  • A narrative proposal.
  • A letter of recommendation from the applicant’s supervisor.
  • A leave plan developed by the applicant and supervisor that details anticipated costs of the leave, including replacement/coverage costs.

C. Approval Process


  • Normally a leave application should be submitted to one’s supervisor one year prior to the proposed start date of the leave.
  • The supervisor should prepare a letter of recommendation.
  • The supervisor should then submit the application, the letter of recommendation, and the leave plan to the appropriate vice president.
  • If the vice president approves the application, they will forward the documents to the Cabinet who has final approval.


  • The granting of a leave is discretionary. Approval will depend on the availability of resources and the viability of options for a cost-effective replacement plan. 
  • Criteria to review and prioritize proposals will include:
    • Advantages that the leave’s outcomes will have for the individual’s assigned responsibilities and for Luther College;
    • Professional development opportunities for the applicant;
    • The opportunity to seek an advanced degree;
    • Years of service since an applicant’s previous leave at the College;
    • Development of skills for an expanded or changed position;
    • Ability and expertise of the applicant to achieve the outcomes anticipated by the proposal;
    • Capacity of the College to cover the applicant’s responsibilities during thier leave.

         Prior to Leave

  • It is understood that a College-supported leave is an investment in the future and implies continuous service to Luther. The recipient will be required to sign an agreement stipulating that the recipient will return to active employment for two years at Luther College following their leave. If the recipient does not return, they must repay the College the amount of salary, health care, and retirement benefits received during the leave period. If they returns for only one year, they must repay one-half of the salary, but will not be required to repay the cost of benefits. If the recipient requests a leave less than a semester, the return to active employment may be less than the two-year stipulation subject to Vice President approval.      

D.     Assessment of Leave

  • Leave recipients must provide the Cabinet with a report that includes the activities and outcomes achieved during the leave within 60 days after their return. The report must indicate how the leave benefited Luther College and advanced the individual’s professional development.

VI. Confidentiality and Record

All applications and documents related to sabbatical leaves will be held in strict confidence in the Office of Human Resources.