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Smith College is committed to supporting faculty members by providing them with clear and reasonable options for managing their professional and parental responsibilities. The college's parental leave policy is built on two main tenets: first, that eligible members of the faculty are granted up to an 8-week paid leave in the period surrounding the birth or adoption of a child, and that no academic or administrative work be expected of them during this period; second, that faculty members be able to take a standard parental leave and return to work without experiencing a loss of income during a year of birth or adoption.

In formulating its parental leave policy, the college affirms for its faculty, and indirectly for its students, a commitment to parents who seek to lead full professional, intellectual, and personal lives. A primary goal of the policy is to allow both the faculty member and the college the opportunity to maintain the integrity of the classroom and avoid placing undue burden on the individual or the department. The college recognizes that no policy can anticipate all eventualities; therefore, the policy leaves room for faculty members, departments, and the Provost/Dean of the Faculty to tailor certain aspects of parental leaves to accommodate individual situations.

All provisions and applications of this policy are meant to be consistent with state and federal law, including the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Faculty Application for Parental Leave (PDF)

Attending Physician's Statement (PDF)

Physician's Approval to Return to Work (PDF)

Faculty Affidavit of Parental Leave (PDF)


Faculty members who have taught at the college for at least one year in a continuing faculty position of half-time or more are eligible for paid parental leave. In accordance with the college's medical and disability leave policies, additional medical leave will be granted if a birth mother is certified by her physician to be medically disabled either before or after a parental leave.

Faculty members who have taught at the college for less than one year, teach less than half-time, or hold a visiting or adjunct position, are not eligible for paid parental leave. Such members may, however, qualify for unpaid parental or adoption leave, as required by law (see “Compliance with Federal and State Laws” below).

Terms and Conditions for Paid Parental Leave

A faculty member who is the primary caretaker parent of a birth child, or an adoptive child under the age of 5, is eligible for 8 consecutive weeks of paid leave beginning on or near the day the child is born or adopted. When the birth or adoption occurs such that the 8-week leave interrupts a faculty member's teaching, she or he will normally be excused from teaching during that entire semester.

During the portion of the semester not covered by the 8-week leave, the faculty member shall return to non-teaching responsibilities. The precise nature of these responsibilities and any other necessary arrangements associated with the leave must be arranged between the individual, the department chair or program director, and the Provost/Dean of the Faculty. The Provost/Dean of the Faculty will compensate departments as necessary for courses not taught by faculty members taking parental leaves.

If a faculty member’s 8-week leave does not intersect the fall or spring semester – that is, when a birth or adoption occurs between mid-May and early July – she or he is eligible for a paid one-course release and is excused from administrative responsibilities during the subsequent fall semester. This will be considered the member's paid parental leave.

The teaching and administrative responsibilities for a year in which an eligible part-time faculty member takes a parental leave will be arranged among the individual, the department chair or program director, and the Provost/Dean of the Faculty.

Spouses or registered domestic partners of a primary caretaker parent are eligible for one week of paid leave. Normally, if both parents are employees of Smith College, only one parent may take advantage of the benefit for primary caretakers.

Benefits: During the period of paid parental leave, the college will continue to make its normal contribution to a faculty member’s benefits, which shall remain continuously in effect.

Sabbatical Credit: The semester in which a faculty member takes a paid parental leave will count in the accrual of sabbatical credit.

Terms and Conditions for Part-time Teaching and Unpaid Parental Leave

Part-time teaching: A faculty member who is the primary caretaker parent may be released from teaching one course each semester for up to two years following a standard parental leave, at prorated salary and benefits, except that full benefits will be provided if the part-time teaching occurs in the semester immediately following a paid parental leave. All semesters of part-time teaching will accrue sabbatical credit at a part-time rate.

Unpaid leave:In addition to the paid leave described above, spouses or registered domestic partners of a primary caretaker parent may request of the Provost/Dean of the Faculty a leave without pay or reduced teaching load at a prorated salary during the year of a birth or adoption. The Provost/Dean of the Faculty will evaluate such a request in consultation with the relevant department chair or program director. Faculty members will continue to be eligible for benefits during a period of leave without pay or reduced teaching, but the college's contribution to benefits will be prorated. The accrual of sabbatical credit will be prorated as well to reflect the faculty member's actual teaching during this period.

Extension of probationary period

Tenure track faculty members who become parents during the probationary period will automatically receive a one-year extension of the probationary period. Tenure track faculty members who wish to decline the extension will notify the Provost by March 1 in order to be considered for tenure in the fall of that calendar year.

Other Work

Consistent with college policy, paid parental leave may not be used for purposes of salaried services elsewhere.

Application and Approval Process

A member of the faculty who anticipates a pregnancy or adoption occurring in his or her family will so inform her or his department chair or program director, and the chair/director will be responsible for explaining parental leave options to the eligible member. The faculty member will then submit a Faculty Application for Parental Leave and an affidavit attesting to the faculty member's primary caretaker status to the department chair or program director, generally at least four months before the intended leave, and the chair/director will send a copy of the documents to the Provost/Dean of Faculty. If at any time it is determined that any information in a parental leave affidavit is not true, or if leave circumstances change and the faculty member is no longer qualified for paid parental leave, all benefits will cease, and the faculty member will be responsible to repay the value of any wages or benefits derived.

Birth mothers must also submit an Attending Physician's Statement directly to the Provost/Dean of Faculty. The Provost/Dean of Faculty is responsible for reviewing and approving the terms of all parental leaves.

Prior to returning to teaching, birth mothers must submit the Physician's Approval to Return to Work.


The Provost/Dean of the Faculty will inform chairs of departments, directors of programs, and new members of the faculty, on an annual basis, of the provisions of this policy.

Compliance with Federal and State Laws

In accordance with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), the college provides eligible faculty and staff with up to 12 weeks of family and medical leave during any 12-month period. FMLA leave may be paid, unpaid, or a combination of paid and unpaid, depending on the circumstances and as specified in the policy. FMLA leave runs concurrently with other college-sponsored leave plans. For a complete description of the college's FMLA policy, please call the Office of Human Resources.

Male and female faculty who are not eligible for a Family and Medical Leave of twelve weeks to care for their child within one year of birth or adoption, but have worked at the College for at least three consecutive months may be entitled to the benefits of the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (MMLA) .MMLA grants employees up to 8 weeks of unpaid leave incident to the birth or adoption of a child under three years of age, provided that s/he provides required notice of the departure date and intention to return to work. To be eligible for the 8 weeks of unpaid MMLA leave, a faculty member must be employed at least half-time and must have been employed for three months prior to the time of adoption or delivery. The college will continue to pay its share of the individual's benefit costs during such leave as long as the individual pays her share.

Federal law requires that pay for maternity be treated in the same manner as the college's disability or medical leave provisions. Therefore, a physician's certification is required to establish the beginning and the end of the period of leave due to maternity. A faculty member returning from approved maternity leave will be returned to the position she held prior to the leave or to a comparable position.

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