January 2021


Man lying down with his infant baby with a blanket wrapped around them

This year, Harvard’s many family-friendly and medical leave benefits will be enhanced with increases in paid time off. Modeled after, and in compliance with, the new Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave (MAPFML) benefit, Harvard goes beyond the state offering with a more generous private Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) plan.

Beginning January 1, 2021, Harvard’s new PFML benefit is available for employees who require medical care for a condition not covered under short-term disability, who are bonding with a new child, or who are attending to family needs related to military service. Starting July 1, 2021, paid leave to care for eligible family members with a serious medical condition will also be available.

To initiate your PFML benefit, you’ll need to:

  • talk to your manager and either your local HR contact or Leave of Absence Specialist about your need to take the leave, and
  • contact the administrator of the benefit, Lincoln Financial Group, at 844-228-2501 or through MyLincolnPortal.com.

Your paid leave may run concurrently with short-term disability or maternity leaves. Lincoln will coordinate the various programs to make sure you receive the highest level of pay or benefit for which you are eligible.

The details of the paid leave policies differ depending on your employment status at Harvard. Find more about the plan that you are eligible for here:

Leave may also be available to non-benefits-eligible employees.

New parents should note that the new bonding leave may still be available to you if you experienced the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child in 2020.

For more information, including details on how to apply, you can visit the MAPFML page or attend one of two webinars on the subject, on January 6, 1-2 p.m. or January 8, 11 a.m.-12 p.m.

Hands of two people sitting at a desk taking notes


If you have ideas about how to make Harvard a more inclusive community, where everyone feels confident that they belong, then the Harvard Culture Lab wants to hear from you.

As part of the University’s mission to establish a culture of inclusive excellence, faculty, staff, postdoctoral researchers, and academic personnel are invited to apply to the Culture Lab Innovation Fund to pilot your ideas that will bring about positive changes in our community. Applications will open later this month.

This year’s focus is on projects that promote racial justice, mental health, and rebuilding community—or feel free to submit an idea addressing an area of your interest. Proposals should have a direct connection to the Harvard community.

The Culture Lab is part of Harvard’s Office for Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging (ODIB), and you can keep up with news and upcoming events by visiting the regularly updated ODIB news page, signing up for emailed updates, and exploring the many resources on the Learning Hub.

Mind & Body

The turbulence of the past year is starting to settle and make way for clarity. Take a moment to set yourself up for success in the new year.

  • As working from home continues into 2021, be sure to keep up with ergonomics and comfort in your home workspace. A comfortable workspace can pay dividends in terms of health and productivity.
  • Use myBlue to find a doctor, review benefits, estimate costs, track claims, discover discounts and health tips, and more. Sign up on the Blue Cross Blue Shield website, from the app (App Store or Google Play), or by calling 888-389-7732. Harvard’s BCBS plan also entitles you to exclusive member offers on fitness gear and services from Blue365.
  • Plan for the year ahead with the University’s downloadable 2021 holiday calendar.

Learning & Growing

Let’s all take a deep breath and welcome the new year with new ideas and mental frameworks.

  • Tackle some career resolutions by tapping into the new selection of professional development courses from the Center for Workplace Development.
  • Apply mindfulness in your daily life by embracing uncertainty, mitigating digital overload, and addressing issues of isolation. Register now (HarvardKey required) for a series of 90-minute workshops with author Thomas Hübl starting on January 26.
  • Deepen your engagement with issues relating to diversity, inclusion, and belonging (DIB) by signing up for DIB Academy (HarvardKey required), a six-session course that explores how power and privilege affect people, policies, procedures, and practices.

Living & Working

The Office of Work/Life can help you keep your commitments to yourself this month and all year long.

  • Start the year off right with a class from the Office of Work/Life. Check out the program calendar (HarvardKey required) to register.
  • Develop strategies to adapt to and overcome adversity. Register for KGA’s webinar Building Resiliency During Challenging Times, scheduled for noon on January 13.
  • Due to COVID-19, caring for older and younger family members has become more complicated. Find answers to your questions on Care@Work’s new online resource center, which features helpful podcasts, webinars, and guides.

Finances & Security

January is a great month to evaluate your financial situation and see what changes are needed.