Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Noodling to myself about my upcoming leave application

At the University of Manitoba (and I assume elsewhere) we don’t get ‘sabbaticals’. We get ‘research/study leaves’.  I’m not sure what the difference is supposed to be because as a student I never really paid attention to the preparation beyond ‘Peter’s going to spend the year in India’.  I was certainly unaware of an ‘application’ to take the leave, which had to be approved by the Department and the Dean.  But what do I know?

Here (and I assume elsewhere) (and I'll stop saying that now), you trade in ‘credits’ toward your RSL.  One credit is basically one full year of regular service (or rather, one-half credits is one term plus some of the summer*).  So in 2009, when I took my first leave, I had nine credits.  I used six of them to ‘pay’ for my full year RLS.  You don’t accrue credits while you’re on leave, and there’s a clause in the leave that you a) can’t use it to seek employment elsewhere, and b) you have to come back and work (for credit) for an equivalent time.  So if you take a year leave, you have to come back and do at least a year of service before you quit and move somewhere else

So anyway, I’ve spent the last couple years planning to take my leave next year. At the end 2014-15 school year, I will have 8 credits.  I had planned to take a full year.  That would mean being released from teaching so I could go research/study stuff, for 6 credits, during which I would receive 80% of my regular salary.  

My alternatives, as pointed out by my department head, would be to take a six-month leave (which would make scheduling classes and committees and such easier) at 80% salary for 3 credits (and save 5 credits going into the next cycle.  Less appealing from the taking leave standpoint, but much more appealing from the buying and moving into a house in the next couple years, is taking six months at 100% salary, which would cost me 6 credits. 

Now, in the abstract, and having a vague understanding of economic principles, I wouldn’t want to waste 3 perfectly good credits on just 20% of my salary, actually 10% since it would be just six months.  On the other hand, I would still have two credits and could take another 6-monther in a couple of years.

It’s also harder to deny more frequent half-leaves since many of the scheduling and programming issues just don’t come up if you’re only gone for half a year.

So actually, the idea of semi-often one-term leaves is actually more appealing than the relatively infrequent full year.  But I really like the flexibility of a full year.  Then again I learned last time I’m probably not the time manager to really make a full year work for all it is intended to

So what to do what to do?

*This is relevant only because the accrual of credits during regular work is defined in terms of half-credits and half years.  But if you’re denied a leave for some reason, your work is calculated as one credit for a full year of service.  As if it wouldn’t be, if you just weren’t on leave, as opposed to having intended to take a leave and having it denied for some reason. Or, having had your leave denied, you don't get credit for you service because you asked? They're not that weaselly.