News and Events

Unpaid Leaves of Absence

HUCTW members who want to take extended time away from work can use paid vacation time, but they can also arrange to take an unpaid leave of absence. Once you have passed your 90 day orientation and review period, you are eligible to take a short term unpaid personal leave of 30 – 90 days. Once you have worked at Harvard for five years, you can negotiate a long term leave of absence of 90 days – one year. Below is the HUCTW contract language on unpaid leaves, including short and long-term leaves (page 29 – 30, Personnel Manual). Please reach out to your HUCTW organizer if you would like to confidentially discuss taking an unpaid leave.

  1. Leaves are a temporary absence from the payroll for more than 30 days.
  2. Terms and conditions of all leaves must be agreed to in writing by the employee and her/his supervisor or department head in advance of the leave, and must be consistent with the policies in this section.
  3. The terms of the leave agreement should be documented using the Leave of Absence Payroll Form and an accompanying letter or leave of absence agreement form signed by both parties. Copies of this documentation should be provided to the employee and put on file at the Office of Human Resources.
  4. The leave agreement must include the length of leave and conditions of reemployment. Any agreement must be signed by the administrative head of the largest unit involved in the rehiring agreement, or her/his designee.
  5. It is strongly recommended that the employee and the supervisor or department head consult a union representative and a local human resources officer, respectively, for information and options before finalizing any leave agreement.
  6. Paid employment while on leave is permitted subject to the provisions of Section 3 under Long Term Personal or Career Development Leave and can include casual employment at the University as well as other forms of casual employment.
  7. Eligibility for vacation and sick pay does not accrue while an employee is on a leave of absence without pay. Vacation and sick days do accrue when an employee is away from work on accrued sick or vacation time before an unpaid leave begins.
  8. An employee may remain a member of the Medical Program, Dental Plan, Group Life Insurance, and Long Term Disability Plan during a leave of absence. The employee is responsible for premium payments during the leave unless participation is waived at the beginning of the leave.
  9. Under the Staff Pension Plans, an employee continues to earn pension credit during a leave of absence, provided s/he returns to work and the total credited service, excluding the leave period, is equal to at least 5 years. Questions may be referred to the Benefits Office (617) 496-4001.
  10. An unpaid leave of absence is counted as prior service for all other benefits that have a minimum service requirement, such as tuition assistance, disability coverage, and the amount of service required for extra vacation.
  11. If an employee fails to return to work as scheduled and does not obtain an extension of the leave, employment will be terminated.

Ordinarily, a leave of absence will not be available to an employee who has not completed the Orientation and Review Period.

Short Term Personal Leave

  1. A leave of 31 to 90 days shall be available to employees unless it is inconsistent with the work needs of the department. Such a leave will not be unreasonably denied.
  2. This leave is appropriate for an employee to address personal needs and may be available on a seasonal basis.
  3. The employee will be automatically reinstated in her/his job upon return from the leave, unless the parties have otherwise agreed in writing.

Long Term Personal or Career Development Leave

  1. Long term leaves of at least three months and up to one year are available to any employee with five or more years of prior service to the University. Such leave will not be unreasonably denied.
  2. This type of leave is intended to give employees the opportunity to explore or expand interests related or unrelated to their present work at the University with the assumption that they will return to employment at the University.
  3. While on leave an employee is not ordinarily permitted to work in a position with benefits, unless agreed to in advance. Such employment may be grounds for denial of a leave or written notice of termination of a leave in progress.
  4. A long term leave agreement will ordinarily include either a guarantee of reemployment in the same job or preferential hiring for any similar open position in the unit upon return from the leave.
  5. Extension of a long term leave for an additional period of time up to one year is available to an employee with five or more years of service, subject to review and agreement. An extension will not be unreasonably denied.

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