Temporary Alternative Duty Assignments for Graduate Assistants/Associates


While changing duties for family-related needs is not required and may not be feasible in all circumstances, deans, directors, department heads, advisors and faculty shall make every reasonable effort to meet the family-related needs of graduate assistants/associates (GA's), to the greatest possible extent, and in a manner consistent with the effective and efficient operation of the University. Similarly, GA's are expected to be flexible and plan ahead to the extent possible.

Recognizing that some family circumstances may require special flexibility, GA's may request a temporary alternative duty assignment (no more than 6 weeks during one’s entire graduate education). The alternative duties should make it feasible to remain active as a GA under the following circumstances: the responsibility to care for the GA's newborn child or newly-placed adopted or foster child or the need to provide temporary care to the GA’s spouse/domestic partner, child or parent who has a serious health condition.

During the period of temporary assignment to alternative duties, the full-time equivalency (FTE) will remain unchanged and the GA will be compensated at the same rate of pay for all hours worked. GA's are classified as exempt employees, so their pay is not based on number of hours worked but for the whole job, regardless of the amount of time or effort required to complete the work.


The GA may apply for a temporary alternative duty assignment to the faculty member who is the supervisor for the GA duties, or to the PI, director of graduate studies, or program/department head, as appropriate. The application must include a statement signed by the GA attesting that:

  • the GA will be responsible for the care of the newborn, adopted, or foster child, or;
  • the GA will provide temporary care to the GA’s spouse/domestic partner, child or parent who has a serious health condition.

The application for temporary alternative duties shall include the dates of the proposed period of alternative duty assignment, the proposed alternative duties, and any other arrangements needed in order to consider and implement the request. The GA shall apply for this period of reassigned duties as far in advance as possible, so that the unit will be able to sufficiently manage the ensuing shift in responsibilities.

It is expected that the temporary alternative duties will be ones normally included in the GA’s job description; however, the supervisor may alter the range or scheduling of actual duties.  Examples of temporary alternative duties might include: alternative work schedule, substitution of duties, project-specific work, and/or transportable work such as grading, data analyses, report writing, or internet research.

The faculty member who is the supervisor for the GA duties has the discretion whether to approve the temporary alternative duty assignment application, in consultation with the unit administrator (typically the director of graduate studies or head of the department/program). The supervisor shall consider the feasibility of the request within the circumstances of the affected work unit and whether it is in the best interests of the University. Such factors as availability of alternate assignments and demands, potential for flexible scheduling in the particular position, and effect of the request on the unit's budget may be considered in evaluating the application.

The department shall maintain a copy of the employee's application and the supervisor's response. Departments must consult with the Graduate College before denying a request.

For further information, contact Associate Dean Margaret Pitts in the Graduate College.