Personal Time Off

Within the Faculty of Medicine, it is recognized that many graduate students conduct their research almost exclusively within a laboratory setting, where they may or may not have control over their hours and the flow of the research program.

Students are not employees and therefore have no rights to employee benefits, including paid vacation entitlement. However, it is recognized that in order for a graduate student to reach their full potential and achieve academic excellence and maintain a healthy work-life balance, they benefit from some personal time off or ‘vacation’.

In lieu of University and SGS policies regarding graduate student personal time off, the following guidelines for faculty and graduate students provide a framework for reasonable expectations (adapted from the Institute of Medical Science guidelines on time off for students).

As a general rule, students might reasonably expect up to three weeks (15 working days) per year in personal time off, plus statutory holidays, under the following conditions:

• time-off provisions should be negotiated, in a clear and transparent manner, between the supervisor and the graduate student

• time off should not compromise the research program and/or the student’s graduate studies; students must ensure that laboratory work, experimentation and other time-sensitive activities are either completed, or arrangements made for others to continue ongoing work

• consideration should be given to when the building or lab is closed (i.e. winter holidays) when taking time off

• time-sensitive deadlines (i.e. award applications, abstract submissions) must be taken into consideration

• time off cannot be carried forward from year to year

• time off should be requested as far in advance as possible

• the student and supervisor should be able to maintain contact as appropriate if the student is away for an extended period

• given that students receive remuneration as a stipend, not salary, the stipend continues, unaffected by this personal time off

• attendance at social activities within the academic community (e.g. departmental picnic) or scientific meetings do not fall under the category of personal time off

• sick leaves or absences for health reasons must be documented and do not fall under category of personal time off (see below).

Parental Leave

Students may apply for parental leave by completing the Parental Leave Request Form. The terminal date of the degree program will be extended by the duration of the leave taken. Normally, the start and finish of the leave would coincide with the beginning and end of a session.

Either parent may request up to three sessions of leave, which must be completed within twelve months of the date of birth or custody. Where both parents are graduate students seeking parental leave, the total number of sessions may not exceed four.

While on parental leave, the student does not register or pay fees to the University. Should the student wish to make use of library facilities, while on parental leave he/she is advised to consult the library regarding Research Reader privileges. The student should consult fully with his/her supervisor to make any special arrangements that may be required to accommodate his/her leave.

The student will not be eligible to receive University of Toronto Fellowship support during his/her leave, but may defer his/her Fellowship until the return from leave. The student can apply for funding from the SGS Parental Grant. In the case of other fellowships, the regulations of the particular granting agency will apply. The student should also check with the granting agency that provides the operating grant to his/her supervisor that supports his/her research regarding the agency’s rules for payment of stipends during a parental leave.

Below are the current guidelines for trainees paid from CIHR and NSERC operating grants:

CIHR – Research trainees (graduate students) are entitled to fully paid maternity and paternity leave for up to six months. CIHR will extend the eligibility of the trainee by the period of leave, and will augment the grant by the amount of the appropriate CIHR stipend rate during the leave. The grantee should request the augmentation by letter, accompanied by supporting documentation from institutional officials confirming that the period of leave and the trainee had been paid from the grant.

NSERC – On request, eligible graduate students and postdoctoral fellows paid out of NSERC grants may be eligible for paid parental leave. Within six months of a child’s birth or adoption in order to be the primary caregiver for the child, the student may request a paid parental leave supplement at the current level of compensation from NSERC funds for up to four months. The student must obtain approval from the University prior to the start of his/her leave. The maximum period of paid leave is four months.

Leave for Serious Health Problems or Personal Circumstances

The student may apply for a one-session to three-session leave on the grounds of serious health or personal problems which temporarily make it impossible for him/her to continue in the program.

The student applies for such leave by submitting a Leave Request Form to the Graduate Coordinator for approval.

Once on leave, the student will neither register nor pay fees. The student should not make demands upon the resources of the University, such as the use of library facilities, attend courses or expect advice from his/her supervisor. The student will not be eligible to receive or defer University of Toronto Fellowship support during the leave. The student can apply for a Leave of Absence Stipendiary Fund.

In the case of other graduate student awards, the regulations of the particular granting agency apply. If the student requests a leave on the basis of serious financial reasons he/she will be required to apply to the University for a bursary.