Harvard Extends Pay for Idled Employees, Flexible Leave Policies


Anticipating a “robust return to campus" in the fall, Harvard updated its pandemic workforce policies Thursday, adding paid time off for vaccinations and extending its emergency pay policy for direct hire employees idled by the pandemic through the end of the calendar year.

In an announcement to Harvard faculty, staff, and researchers, University Executive Vice President Katherine N. Lapp announced Harvard will continue to pay directly hired employees involuntarily idled by the pandemic up to 70 percent of their pay through Dec. 31.

“Notably, through April 30, 2021, the University has provided approximately $40 million in compensation and benefits continuity to idled Harvard employees,” she wrote.

Until January 2021, the University sustained full pay for all workers idled by the pandemic — directly-hired and contracted. The University modified its emergency excused absence policy to cover 70 percent pay after Jan. 15 for workers directly hired by Harvard. Individual schools were left to extend the guarantee to their own idled contracted workers, most of which did so.


“The University has also provided an estimated $15 million to support idled contract workers as of April 30, 2021,” Lapp wrote. “Schools and Units will continue to determine the need to maintain or increase current staffing levels due to anticipated fall semester needs and may extend the Excused Emergency Absence Policy to sustain the regular pay of contract workers.”

The University is also encouraging employees to get vaccinated. If their vaccine appointments fall during the workday, employees will have up to four hours of paid time off per appointment.

“A high vaccination rate in our community is a critical component of the University’s plans for a return to full in-person learning, research, and other activities on campus in the fall,” Lapp wrote.

The University is aiming to bring all faculty, staff, and researchers back to the office on Aug. 2.

Harvard is also maintaining previous amendments to dependent care benefits and sick leave policies that made both more flexible during the pandemic. Through Aug. 31, employees can get up to 10 days of paid time off to care for dependents. Employees may also use up to 14 days of sick leave in advance because of illness or quarantine and isolation requirements through Dec. 31.

The University also previously announced two paid days off for employees to “unplug” this summer — the day after Memorial Day, June 1, and two days before Independence Day, July 2.

Lapp thanked Harvard staff for their commitment to the University and promised to prioritize their safety as Harvard reopens.

“Thank you for all you have done to ensure Harvard could fulfill its learning and research mission and the success of our students,” she wrote. “Your safety and wellbeing will continue to be our highest priority as we plan for the fall.”

—Staff writer Cara J. Chang can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @CaraChang20.

—Staff writer Meimei Xu can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @meimeixu7.