Benefits-eligible postdoctoral research fellows are eligible for parental and medical leave as detailed below. All leaves must be coordinated with the postdoc’s faculty supervisor and department and require that the postdoc complete the appropriate leave form(s). Because paid leaves may be extended or supplemented by a postdoc’s accrued vacation and personal time, as specified below, postdocs and departments are urged to maintain accurate records of paid time off accruals. Leave benefits terminate on the last day of an appointment.
Birth mothers are eligible for up to thirteen weeks of paid maternity leave following the birth of a child. The first eight weeks of maternity leave are financed by the university’s Disability Claims Unit; the next four weeks are parental leave and are financed by the department; the final or thirteenth week is covered by the postdoc’s accrued vacation or personal time, if available.
For postdocs with seven or more years of service, the rate of leave pay is 100% of the regular base pay. For postdocs with fewer than seven years of service, the rate of leave pay is 75% of the regular base pay. During the four weeks of parental leave, these postdocs may choose to supplement their leave pay with accrued vacation or personal time.
All postdoc maternity leaves are processed through Human Resources. Please contact Antonia Gonzalez, Leave of Absence Specialist at Leave_ofAbsence@hms.harvard.edu.
Non-birth parents are eligible for up to four weeks of paid parental leave following the birth or adoption of a child. Parental leave is financed by the school (100%). If the appointee chooses, a fifth week of leave may be taken, if the appointee has accrued sufficient vacation or personal time to cover the additional week. An appointee also has the opportunity to take up to an additional eight weeks (or seven weeks, if the firth week of paid leave has been taken) of unpaid FLMA leave in conjunction with their parental leave. Please see the FMLA policy below for more information and for a link to the form that must be completed.
For those appointees with seven or more years of service, the rate of leave pay is 100% of the regular base pay. For those appointees with fewer than seven years of service, the rate of leave pay is 75% of the regular base pay; these appointees may choose to supplement their leave pay with accrued vacation or personal time. *Departmental funds must be used for this supplement. PLEASE SEE THE NOTE BELOW REGARDING DEPARTMENTAL FUNDS.
A Parental Leave Form (PDF) must be completed by the appointee, signed by the department administrator, and submitted to the Office of Faculty Affairs, 90 Smith Street, 1st floor.
Postdocs unable to work due to a medically determined physical or mental impairment are eligible for up to twenty-six weeks of paid medical leave. There is a two-week waiting period before institutional coverage begins; vacation or personal time accrued by the postdoc can be used to cover this waiting period. This two-week waiting period is followed by a maximum of twenty-four weeks of paid time off, which is financed by the university’s Disability Claims Unit.
For those postdocs with fewer than seven years of service, the rate of leave pay is 75% of the regular base pay.
All postdoc medical leaves are processed through Human Resources. Please contact Antonia Gonzalez, Leave of Absence Specialist at Leave_ofAbsence@hms.harvard.edu.
Family and Medical Leave Act:
In addition to the paid leave policies described above, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) provides an eligible employee with up to twelve weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. A regular employee who works at least 17.5 hours per week is entitled to up to twelve weeks of Family and Medical Leave during a rolling twelve-month period in the following situations:
- Care for the employee’s child after birth or placement with the appointee for adoption or foster care.
- A serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of her/his job.
- Care for the employee’s spouse (or qualified domestic partner), child (including the dependent child of a qualified domestic partner), or parent with a serious health condition.
Absences from work for the above-stated reasons will be considered as Family and Medical Leave and will count toward fulfillment of the twelve weeks.
A Request for Family and Medical Leave Form (PDF) must be completed by the postdoc, signed by the department administrator, and submitted to the Office of Faculty Affairs, 90 Smith Street, 1st floor.
Paid Family and Medical Leave:
Beginning January 1, 2021, employees may take up to 20 weeks of paid Medical Leave in a benefit year due to the employee’s own serious health condition that incapacitates the employee from performing the essential functions of the employee’s job.
Employees may take paid Family Leave for the following reasons beginning January 1, 2021:
• Up to 12 weeks to bond with a child during the first 12 months after the child’s birth, adoption, or foster placement. (Note that with the new bonding policy, parents with new children in 2020 may be eligible for additional leave time in 2021.)
• Up to 26 weeks to provide care to a family member who is a covered service member.
• Up to 12 weeks because of any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that a family member is on active duty or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty in the Armed Forces.
• Beginning July 1, 2021, employees may take up to 12 weeks of paid Family Leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition.
Total Leave: Employees may take up to a maximum of 26 weeks, in the aggregate, of paid leave per benefit year for the purposes listed above.
*Departmental Funding for Postdoctoral Parental Leaves:
If an appointee with less than 7 years of benefits eligible service chooses to supplement their leave with vacation or personal time, departmental funds must be used for this supplement. If the appointee’s salary is paid by grant funding, the department must check with the funding agency to determine if a leave is allowable under the funding terms of the award.* If the funding agency does not allow a paid leave, the department must use either discretionary or departmental funds to cover the costs that the department is responsible for.
*PLEASE NOTE: If federal funds are used to supplement Maternity and Parental leave, the approver of the costing confirms that the charging accounts are in proportion to the normal percentage of effort associated with the various projects performed by this employee during the year
Helpful Leave Charts:
Non-Faculty Academic Appointee Leave Summary Sheet – OFS (updated May 2016)
Leaves Workshop – Annual Leaves Presentations:
OFA Non-Faculty Academic Leaves Workshop Presentation (February 2020)
*Please note that this presentation will be most helpful for Postdoctoral Parental and FMLA Leaves. For information on maternity and medical leaves, please view the HR training link above.
*Please note: for more information on Postdoctoral Maternity and Medical Leaves, please contact Antonia Gonzalez, Leave of Absence Specialist at Leave_ofAbsence@hms.harvard.edu.