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Leaves of Absence


  • Paid leave
  • Unpaid leave
  • Medical leave, including Maternity
  • Family and Paternity leave is available to postdocs who meet eligibility

Review RPH, Chapter 11, Attachment D, Postdoctoral Benefits.

OPA does not authorize medical/maternity/paternity/baby bonding leave -- these are authorized via disability insurance companies.

Paid Leave

OPA does not authorize time off with pay. All sick, time off with pay, and holiday leave records are maintained by appointing department.

Unpaid Leave

All unpaid leave requests must be approved by OPA before the start of the leave period. With unpaid leaves of absence (LOA) for professional or personal reasons (non-medical), leave arrangements must be acceptable to both the postdoc and the faculty mentor, and cannot violate visa regulations. Requests may be approved for up to 90 days. Any request to extend an unpaid leave period beyond 90 days must be submitted in writing to the Associate Dean of Postdoctoral Affairs. Approvals beyond 90 days are rare. Unpaid leave periods may not extend beyond the postdoc's current appointment or visa end date. International postdocs must have current visa status throughout the unpaid leave period. Requests for an unpaid leave that extends beyond the postdoc's appointment or visa end dates must be accompanied by an appointment extension change request and, in the case of international postdocs, a visa extension. All postdocs maintain their appointment affiliation with the university, privileges, and benefits eligibility while on approved unpaid LOA.

Postdocs must maintain medical insurance (dental and vision may be dropped) while on approved, unpaid LOA. Although customary, faculty mentors/PIs are not required to pay the institutional portion of the postdoc's medical, dental, and vision insurance while on an approved, unpaid LOA. In this instance, a postdoc must be willing to pay the total cost of these benefits and arrangements made with the Postdoc Benefits Office to ensure that banking information is provided in Benelogic prior to approval of the leave. The faculty mentor/PI remains responsible for the disability charge during approved, unpaid LOAs.

If faculty mentors/PIs agree to pay the full cost of the University contribution to the postdoc’s benefits, they typically use unrestricted funds and must provide a PTA to which the premiums can be charged.


INTERNATIONAL SCHOLARS in J1 status: unpaid leaves are reviewed in light of the J1 program regulations which require pursuance of the J program objectives while the scholar is in the U.S., i.e., J-1 scholars must leave the U.S. when taking an unpaid leave of absence. If the leave request violates visa status, it may not be approved. International postdocs must request unpaid leave BEFORE the leave starts, and immediately upon realizing a LOA is needed. Stanford reports infractions in SEVIS records. Documentation to support the request may be required.

To initiate an unpaid LOA request, complete the online Leave of Absence form in AXESS. (Instructions for submitting an unpaid leave web form are available on the Job Aid web page.)

Maternity Leave

Postdocs who give birth can receive up to four months of pregnancy disability leave (PDL) if certified as medically necessary by a treating physician. Most commonly, physicians certify four weeks pre-partum leave and six weeks post-partum leave (eight weeks if C-Section). Postdocs who apply for disablity benefits receive up to six weeks of full pay while on pregnancy disability leave (beginning on the first day of disability benefits). Full pay includes any benefits available from the disability carrier plus a supplement from the primary source of funding for six weeks. The postdoc applies for short-term disability during this time. If the postdoc does not apply for disability benefits, the faculty sponsor is not responsible for providing a supplement to maintain full pay. Once the six weeks of supplement is exhausted, postdocs may supplement their remaining, approved PDL with any unused time off with pay, including sick time. Questions should be directed to the Disability and Leave Specialist in the Postdoc Benefits Office.

Ending an Unpaid Leave

  • The entry of a new pay line in GFS effectively ends an unpaid leave of absence as of the start date of the pay line.
  • If the postdoc is paying for their insurance while on unpaid LOA and the leave ends earlier than expected, please contact ASAP.

Recouping Unpaid and Medical Leave Time

Periods of time for unpaid and medical leaves can be recouped and added back to the end of a postdoctoral appointment, if agreed upon by both Postdoc and Faculty Sponsor.