Leaves of absence

Harvard offers a variety of leave options for medical, personal or family reasons.

Parental leave

Harvard offers a total of 13 weeks of medical leave in connection to childbirth and recovery for birth mothers. Eligible staff members and postdoctoral fellows receive eight weeks of paid leave under short-term disability, four weeks of paid parental leave and one additional week that can be paid using accrued vacation or personal time, or taken unpaid.

Leave for birth or adoptive parents includes up to four weeks of paid time off, to be taken within the 13 weeks following birth or placement for adoption.

Option 1: One week of leave paid at 100 percent of your current pay rate;
Option 2: Up to four weeks of leave paid according to the following service-related pay replacement schedule:

  • Employees with seven or more years of service are paid at 100 percent of current pay.
  • With fewer than seven years of service, administrative and professional staff and non-bargaining unit support staff are paid at 75 percent of current rate; and HUCTW staff are paid at 70 percent.

You will need to submit a Request for Family or Medical Leave to your local HR office.

Parental leave guidelines for faculty members, and other important information about work/life supports for faculty can be found on the Faculty Development & Diversity website.

Other Leaves of Absence

  • Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) of up to 12 weeks if you have a serious health condition and are unable to perform the functions of your job, or if you need to care for a spouse, domestic partner, child or parent who has a serious health condition, or if you need time off for certain activities related to the active military deployment of a spouse, child or parent. You can learn more about FMLA in the Personnel Manual.

    You will need to submit a Request for Family or Medical Leave. If you take a medical leave as a result of your own serious illness, you are eligible for short-term disability.

Leaves of absence should be requested as far in advance as possible through your local HR office. You can learn more about leaves in the Personnel Manual.

  • Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave: Beginning in 2021, Harvard University will offer all eligible employees paid family and medical leave. Harvard’s new paid family and medical leave benefits are modelled on the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Law. The details of these new benefits are outlined in a cover letter and notification from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts concerning the Paid Family and Medical Leave Law.
  • Extended parental leave: Eligible staff may take an extended parental leave of up to one year (inclusive of family leave and vacation time) immediately preceding and/or following a child's arrival. 
  • Short-term personal leave for 31-90 days, depending on department staffing needs.
  • Long-term personal leave from three months to one year.
  • Career development leave from three months to one year (available after three years of Harvard employment).
  • Military leave of absence: Harvard grants leaves of absence and extends reemployment rights to staff members who engage in military service, in accordance with applicable law. See here for details on Military Service. A pay supplement may also be available for employees called to military service. See the Staff Personnel Manual for additional information.
  • Government service leave: A period equal to prior service (not to exceed two years) for service in an appointive capacity at the federal, state or local level.
  • Domestic Violence Leave: Under Massachusetts law, leave is available to victims of domestic violence. Learn more.


The information on this page applies to administrative and professional staff, other non-bargaining-unit staff and employees covered by HUCTW, except as noted. Members of other bargaining units should consult their union contract. Faculty members should contact their dean. All paid time off is prorated for part-time work schedules.