A. General Leave Policies

(1)   Duration of Leaves

Leaves may not be granted for more than one year at a time. Ordinarily, faculty members should not be out of the Harvard classroom for more than a year at a time. It is possible on occasion to request a second year of unpaid leave for the purpose of service in the public interest (please see Section 3G, "Leaves of Absence for Public Service," for more information on these leaves). By vote of the Corporation, leave for more than two successive years is not possible. Resignation from the Harvard appointment is the only alternative to returning to University service after more than two consecutive years of leave.

(2)   Approval of Leave Requests

Prior to a sabbatical, paid research leave, or unpaid research leave, a faculty member must submit to the department chair a leave of absence application, which must then be reviewed and approved by the chair. The deadline for eligible faculty to submit such leave requests for AY 2023-2024 is December 1, 2022.  The deadline for department chairs to approve such leave requests for AY 2023-2024 is December 16, 2022. 

In reviewing a leave request, the department chair considers the request in the context of the department’s curricular and service needs. The chair is responsible for taking departmental commitments into account before approving leave requests. It may be appropriate, upon occasion, for a chair to delay certain requests for leave if the proposed absence would hinder the department’s ability to meet its instructional obligations. In such situations, the chair should confer with the faculty member and the assistant dean for the division.

Once approved by the department chair, the requests are then automatically sent to the assistant dean for the division. In the case of joint appointments, all relevant chairs must approve these requests.

Prior to a leave for public service, a faculty member must submit a proposal to his/her/their divisional dean/John A. Paulson Dean of SEAS, who will consult with the department chair/SEAS area chair in determining whether a leave is appropriate. In all cases, the decision to grant or require a leave for public service is ultimately at the discretion of the Edgerley Family Dean of the FAS. Please see Section 3G, “Leaves of Absence for Public Service,” for more information.

For information on requesting leaves for family, medical, and personal reasons, please see Section 3H, “Other Leaves (Family [including Parental], Medical, and Personal) and Extensions.”

Faculty members should note that work or residence in certain foreign countries during leaves might create additional personal tax liabilities or tax filing requirements. They may wish to consult a tax professional before working or residing in another country.

(3)   Appointments at Other Institutions

A faculty member may not hold a regular faculty or administrative appointment at another academic institution while on the faculty at Harvard, including during periods of leave. While on sabbatical/research leave, a faculty member may hold a visiting faculty appointment at another institution, as long as the word “visiting” is included in the title held. Issues of compensation relating to periods of leave are discussed in sections C, D, and E of this chapter and also in Chapter 2.

(4)   Annual Faculty Activity Reports

Faculty Activity Reports (a description of the faculty member’s research, teaching, advising, mentoring, and service/citizenship during that year) are submitted to the Dean annually, including in those years in which faculty are on leave, and are used as part of the salary-setting process. In addition to reporting in the annual Faculty Activity Report, and in accordance with the FAS/SEAS Policy on Financial Conflicts of Interest Disclosures (available at https://research.fas.harvard.edu/policies/financial-conflicts-interest-disclosures), relevant faculty must submit an annual disclosure of their and their immediate family members’ financial interests and outside activities in the preceding twelve months in any related outside entity, using the online application Outside Activities and Interests Reporting (OAIR) application (https://oair.harvard.edu). Please see Chapter 2, “Compensation Related to Non-Harvard Activities,” for more information. As noted in Chapter 2, some exclusions from financial disclosure may apply. While on leave, faculty members should continue to abide by appropriate University and Faculty policies on conflict of interest and conflict of commitment, as detailed in the following references (see also faculty research policies at https://research.fas.harvard.edu/policies/faculty-research): the University Statement on Outside Activities of Holders of Academic Appointments (available at https://provost.harvard.edu/statement-outside-activities-holders-academic-appointments), University Policy on Financial Conflicts of Interest (see http://files.vpr.harvard.edu/files/vpr-documents/files/harvard_university_fcoi_policy_4_0.pdf), FAS/SEAS Policy on Financial Conflicts of Interest Disclosures (available at https://research.fas.harvard.edu/policies/financial-conflicts-interest-disclosures),FAS/SEAS Policies Relating to Research & Other Professional Activities (available at https://research.fas.harvard.edu/policies-relating-research-and-other-professional-activities-within-and-outside-university) and FAS/SEAS Policies on Effort Reporting for Academic Year Effort and Supplemental Salary (available at https://research.fas.harvard.edu/effort-reporting).

(5)   Paid Sick Time

Harvard observes the provisions of the Massachusetts Paid Sick Time Law (“the Law”).  The Law entitles Harvard employees, including those on paid academic teaching and research appointments (e.g. academic appointees), to a guaranteed minimum amount of paid sick time each year: specifically, one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours of paid sick time per academic year (from July 1 to June 30).  Under the Law, full-time academic appointees are entitled to 40 hours of sick time each academic year, as are part-time academic appointees scheduled to work at least 1200 hours in an academic year.  In the case of other part-time academic appointees, the amount of sick time is based on an academic appointee’s specified weekly hours.[1] Harvard grants academic appointees their full entitlement as of July 1, 2015 (the effective date of the Law), and thereafter, as of the start of each academic year, except that individuals hired on a semester basis instead receive their full entitlement at the start of the semester.  Unused sick time does not roll over from one academic year to the next.

Employees can use paid sick time to care for a physical or mental illness, injury or condition affecting the employee or the employee’s child, spouse, parent, or parent of a spouse, to attend routine medical appointments for these individuals, and to address the psychological, physical or legal effects of domestic violence on the employee or the employee’s family member. Individuals may not be treated adversely because they have exercised their rights under the Law, including in taking earned sick time.

In most cases, Harvard’s existing sick leave policies are more generous than the minimum sick time allotments mandated by the Law.  Where individuals already are entitled to equivalent or more favorable sick pay benefits under existing Harvard policies, the Harvard policy will apply.

Holders of academic appointments should follow their School and Department’s normal protocols for advance notice (unless the need for sick time is not foreseeable), including when the need for sick time will conflict with normally scheduled class hours.  For questions concerning sick leave entitlement, please consult the assistant dean for the division.

(6)  Teaching Relief

Teaching relief is not a leave of absence. Teaching relief is an exemption from formal classroom duties, either for full teaching duties during one term or half duty for two terms, at the option of the faculty member. Faculty are expected to continue advising, mentoring, and performing service when taking teaching relief.


[1] This is determined as follows: (1) multiply the specified weekly hours by the number of weeks of the appointment in the applicable academic year and (2) divide that figure by 30.