Harvard Letter: New Paid Time Off Benefit

The following letter was sent from Harvard University Human Resources to all Harvard staff on Monday, September 21:

Dear Colleagues,

I write to announce a new, temporary paid time off (PTO) benefit for eligible Harvard staff – including administrative professional, support and service and trades staff.

Beginning this week, and through December 31, you may use up to 10 days of additional paid time off (prorated for those who work less than full-time) if needed to care for well dependents whose schooling or care arrangements have been disrupted by COVID-19.

Harvard is making this new benefit available with the hope that it reduces some of the stress associated with disruptions in schooling or care, and the impact that has on our colleagues and their families.

For the purpose of this policy, dependents include immediate family and household members — children, adults and elders. Use of this paid time off should be requested online in PeopleSoft or another Harvard timekeeping system as an Emergency Excused Absence, with a “reason” of dependent well care. Dependent care sick time should no longer be used for this purpose but can continue to be used to care for dependents who are ill or who must isolate our quarantine.

Other temporary COVID-19 workplace policies, such as the ability to use sick time before it is earned, and the waiving of annual limits on the use of dependent care sick time, remain in effect, and are described on these pages:



Please review this information carefully so you are aware of Harvard’s special workplace policies during the pandemic. They have been put in place to assist staff members in managing through the many challenges associated with these unusual times.

Using an Emergency Excused Absence to care for well dependents should be discussed with your manager, as part of a larger flexible work arrangement that balances the needs of Harvard, employees and their families, and coworkers. A flexible work arrangement may also include schedule changes, a reduction in hours, use of paid time off, or taking a leave of absence. Human Resources staff are available to advise employees and managers on options. In addition, this document summarizes the many supports (including flexible work arrangements) that Harvard provides to sustain productive work while attending to care responsibilities.

Thank you for your dedication, diligence and commitment to Harvard — and for the work you do every day in support of the University’s world-changing mission.


Marilyn Hausammann
Vice President for Human Resources
Harvard University