Use of Sick Time and Dependent Care Sick Time

This policy addresses the use of sick time and paid time off for care of dependents (both sick and well) during the COVID-19 emergency.

  • Paid sick time: Harvard provides significant paid sick time for all benefits-eligible faculty and staff. Visit this summary, the Harvard Staff Personnel Manual, or the applicable union contract or faculty handbook for additional details. Other workers, such as those working temporarily on assignment at Harvard, may have paid sick time under Massachusetts law.
  • Flexible use of paid sick time: Sick time may be taken for illness, isolation or quarantine due to exposure, or for care of immediate family or household members who are ill, or who are required to isolate or quarantine. Please report these absences online in PeopleSoft or other Harvard timekeeping systems promptly, or ask that it be done for you. Public health authorities may ask employers like Harvard to monitor and report trends in absences. For quarantine that is required by Harvard or the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a result of personal/leisure travel, personal, vacation or time at own expense (TOE) should be used, unless you are able to work remotely.  
  • Flexible use of dependent care sick time: Employees may use paid family and dependent care sick time to care for immediate family and household members who are ill or must isolate or quarantine due to exposure.
    • Normally, Harvard’s flexible work guidelines prohibit remote work while caring for dependent family members. Those guidelines have been temporarily amended. That means:
      • If you are not working in order to actively care for ill or quarantining/isolating dependents or household members – use dependent care sick time. Use of sick time for family and dependent care is subject to the availability of regular sick time and applicable policy or collective bargaining agreement. Additional information can be found here.
      • If you are working remotely with relatively self-sufficient dependents or household members at home due to COVID-19 disruptions – no need to report the use of paid time off.
  • Return to On-Campus Work: In general, medical clearance for return to on-campus work after confirmed or presumed illness from COVID-19 must be obtained from Harvard University Health Services. Contact Health Services when you become ill initially, and when you are ready to return to on-campus work by emailing
  • Documentation: A “doctor’s note” or documentation of illness or dependent care responsibilities will not be required, except in very rare cases where abuse of paid sick/dependent care time is suspected. It is assumed that Harvard employees are honest and trustworthy in their dealings with each other and the University.

Updated: 4/2/2022