Postdoc Time Off Benefits

This is a summary of policy provisions affecting time off for postdocs. Postdoctoral scholars should discuss their individual questions and situations with the key administrative contact for postdocs (HR administrator or administrative officer) in their department, laboratory, or center. This is only a summary; MIT Policies and Procedures and MIT Human Resources are the official resources for these provisions, and take precedence in the case of any discrepancies.

Postdoctoral scholars are appointed with the title Postdoctoral Fellow or Postdoctoral Associate depending on the type and source of funding. MIT Policies and Procedures provides detailed descriptions and requirements for postdoctoral associate and postdoctoral fellow appointments.

Postdoctoral Fellows

MIT strives to treat postdoctoral fellows and postdoctoral associates similarly, to the greatest extent possible, and generally expects that postdoctoral fellows will receive the same holidays, vacation, and sick time as postdoctoral associates. For postdoctoral fellows, fellowship terms must be taken into consideration. Some fellowships specify time off and other leave provisions, whereas others do not. Speak with your key administrative contact for postdocs (i.e., the HR Administrator or Administrative Officer in your department, lab, or center) for information and guidance on your individual situation.

For those who are (or will be) new parents, see FAQs for New Parent Postdocs. If you are a postdoctoral fellow who anticipates taking Maternity Leave and/or Parental Leave, speak with your key administrative contact. Your key contact will then work with the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Research Administration Services to review the terms of your fellowship and determine what, if any, sponsor notification is necessary. Your key contact will also provide details on reporting postdoctoral fellow leave at MIT.

Any leave, whether parental leave, maternity leave, or vacation time, must be discussed with your supervisor and approved prior to taking leave, and may also require notification to the funding sponsor.

Postdoctoral Associates

In general, MIT’s time off benefits apply to postdoctoral associates and other salaried employees working at least 50% time. Certain benefits have an additional eligibility requirement, becoming effective after one year of appointment.


Full-time postdoctoral associates on a 12-month appointment accrue 15 days of vacation in their first year, and 20 days of vacation in subsequent years. See details in Policies & Procedures Section. 5.3.2 Specific vacation days are subject to approval by the postdoc’s supervisor.


Postdocs are also entitled to observe MIT’s recognized Institute holidays. These holidays and the days on which the Institute is closed to observe them are listed in the MIT Personnel Policy Manual Section 4.1. The dates that these holidays fall in the current year (and the following year) are listed at

Sick Leave

For postdoctoral associates eligible for MIT employee benefits, a reasonable number of justifiable absences are paid in full (100% of the regular pay). In extreme cases of extended illness, sick leave may be paid for a period of up to, but not normally exceeding, 6 months. Medical documentation may be required.  Policies and Procedures Section 7.5.4

Postdoctoral associates must record the use of sick time taken during their normal working hours. A tool to do so is available through Atlas. For more information, see

Maternity Leave – Birth Mothers

MIT grants 8 weeks of sick leave to benefits-eligible birth mothers following the birth of a child. This period is paid as sick leave at 100% of the regular pay. Medical documentation is required. Additional provisions are summarized below. Pregnant women should give a minimum of 2 months’ notice of a maternity leave, and they are encouraged to talk to their supervisor and their departmental HR administrator or key administrative contact well before that. The employee or the HR Administrator should also contact the central Human Resources Disabilities Services and Medical Leaves Office. For detailed information and guidance, see Human Resource’s New Parent Postdocs page.

In addition to 8 weeks of sick leave, birth mothers may also be eligible for Paid Parental Leave; see below.

Paid Parental Leave

MIT’s previous policy provided eligible new parents with 5 days of Paid Parental Leave within 4 months. Effective July 1, 2018, this expanded to 20 days within 6 months. MIT will provide up to 20 days of Paid Parental Leave to eligible new parents, including birthmothers, spouses, domestic partners, and parents through surrogacy, adoption or foster placement. Leave may be taken within 6 months following the birth of a baby, or adoption or placement of a child under 18. It may be taken consecutively, or intermittently in daily or weekly increments.

To qualify for Paid Parental Leave as a postdoctoral associate, you must be benefits-eligible (appointed at 50% or more), and you must have completed at least one year continuously appointed as a postdoctoral scholar (fellow and/or associate). Timely documentation is required. For detailed information on Paid Parental Leave as it pertains to postdoctoral scholars, see Human Resources New Parent Postdocs page. FAQs for New Parents provides additional guidance on this and other topics, along with FAQs for New Parent Postdocs.

Other Family Leave Provisions

Employees (including postdoctoral associates) may be able to take up to 12 weeks of leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for their own serious health condition, for the care for a child, parent or spouse with a serious health condition, and for certain other reasons relating to military service of a family member. While FMLA leave is unpaid, in some cases, employees may use sick time or other paid leave while on FMLA. The FMLA is explained on this HR website.

Employees who are parents may be eligible for unpaid leave under the Massachusetts Parental Leave Act as well as under the federal FMLA. The overlapping requirements of MIT’s parental leaves and of state and federal leaves are explained on the HR website under "Understanding Paid Leave and FMLA/MPLA."

Other Leaves

Additional paid time off may be granted in the case of bereavement (death of a close family member), jury duty, military leave, or certain religious observances. Postdocs should direct questions about such leaves to the key administrative contact for postdocs (HR administrator or administrative officer) in their department, laboratory, or center.  

Revised 10-10-18