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Leave of Absence

Types of leave for postdoctoral scholars:

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

Refer to the university policy in the Research Policy Handbook, Chapter 11, Attachment D, Postdoctoral Benefits.

OPA does not authorize medical/maternity/paternity/baby bonding leave - these are authorized through the 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 in advance of the start of the leave period by the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. In the case of 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 must not be in violation of visa regulations for international postdocs. 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. An approval beyond 90 days is an exception to policy and may only be approved in exceptional circumstances. An unpaid leave period 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 leaves of absence.

Postdocs are required to maintain their 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.

Please Note: If unpaid LOA is due to lack of work authorization, it is illegal for Stanford/PI to pay for any portion of the postdoc's health benefits. During a lack of work authorization, the postdoc must pay the full cost of all their health benefits. Make sure to notify Postdoc Benefits of this situation to ensure compliance.

INTERNATIONAL SCHOLARS in J1 status must note that 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 is determined to constitute a violation of the visa status, it may not be approved. International postdocs who request an unpaid leave should do so BEFORE the start of the leave's occurrence, and immediately upon learning of the need to take a leave. The University is required to report infractions in the scholar's SEVIS record. Documentation to support the request may be required in order to review any leave requests.

To initiate an unpaid leave of absence request, the online Leave of Absence form must be completed by the postdoc in AXESS. (Please click Unpaid Leave of Absence Instructions to submit the online form.)

Maternity Leave:

Postdocs who are pregnant and give birth are eligible to receive up to 4 months of pregnancy disability leave (PDL) if certified as medically necessary by a treating physician. Most commonly, physicians certify 4 weeks pre-partum leave and 6 weeks post-partum (8 weeks if C-Section) leave. Postdocs who apply for disablity benefits receive up to 6 weeks of full pay while on pregnancy disability leave (begins on the first day of disability benefits). Full pay is comprised of any benefits available from the disability carrier plus a supplement from the primary source of funding for 6 weeks. The postdoc is expected to apply 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 6 weeks of supplement is exhausted, postdocs may supplement their remaining, approved PDL with any unused time off with pay, including sick time. Any questions should be directed to the Disability and Leave Specialist in the Postdoc Benefits Office.