Leave Policy for Postdoctoral Fellows

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).

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.

Maternity Leave:

Birth mothers are eligible for up to twenty 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 twelve weeks are bonding leave and are financed by the department.

Postdocs are eligible for 100% of their pay for 8 weeks of STD and the first 4 weeks of bonding leave. Post-docs are then eligible to take an additional 8 weeks of bonding leave at a flat 80% pay replacement (up to max duration capped at $1,250 per week).

All postdoc maternity leaves are processed through Human Resources.  Please contact Antonia Gonzalez, Leave of Absence Specialist at Leave_ofAbsence@hms.harvard.edu.

Parental Leave:

Non-birth parents are eligible for up to twelve weeks of paid parental leave following the birth or adoption of a child. Parental leave is financed by the school (100%).

Postdocs are eligible for 100% pay for the first four weeks and 80% for the remaining eight weeks of leave (up to $1,250 maximum).

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.

Medical Leave:

Postdocs unable to work due to a medically determined physical or mental impairment are eligible for up to twenty weeks of paid medical leave. There is a one-week waiting period before institutional coverage begins; vacation or personal time accrued by the postdoc can be used to cover this waiting period. This one-week waiting period is followed by a maximum of twenty-weeks of paid time off, which is financed by the university’s Disability Claims Unit.

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.

Leaves Resources and Summary 

Harvard PFML Summary for post-doctoral Fellows (Internal and External working on Harvard Research) (January 2021)

*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.