Faculty Leaves

MIT provides several paid medical and family leave benefits for faculty.

The policies describing these leaves are found at Policies & Procedures Section 7.5, specifically in Sections 7.5.1–7.5.4.  Those policies, and the information below, include leaves covered under the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA). 

The information below applies only to MIT faculty. See information about medical and family leaves for staff and postdoctoral scholars (associates and fellows).

Overview of Faculty Leaves

Sick/Medical Leaves
  • Faculty are provided paid sick/medical leave when they cannot work because of: minor illness or injury, medical appointments, and serious health conditions. (See the definition of a serious health condition below.) This sick/medical leave is paid at 100% of their regular pay. Sick/medical leave may be either continuous or intermittent.
  • Childbirth leaves (maternity leaves) are covered under MIT’s sick/medical leave policy (more information below)
Family Leaves

MIT provides three types of family leaves for faculty:

  1. Parental leave: to bond with a new child (see the two options under Leaves for All Parents below)
  2. Sick family leave: to care for a family member with a serious health condition
    • A faculty member who needs to take a leave from their work to care for a family member with a serious health condition should discuss the needs with their department head or with a human resources professional in their department or the Dean's Office.
    • When a leave is granted, the specifics of pay, length of time, and any possible work will be arranged on a case-by-case basis. In most cases, faculty will be paid at least the state formula rate for a leave that does not exceed 12 weeks; in some cases, depending on the length of the leave and whether they can perform some of their duties, they may be paid at a higher rate.
  3. For certain reasons when a family member is or was in the Armed Forces
    • Qualifying exigencies: 12 weeks. Qualifying exigencies are needs arising out of an employee’s family member’s active duty or service (or call or order to active duty), including providing for care of the military member’s child or other family member, making financial or legal arrangements for the military member, and spending time with the military member during a rest and recuperation period or following return from deployment. 
    • To care for a family member who is a “Covered Service Member”: 26 weeks. Note that in some cases, a leave to care for an injured “Covered Servicemember” may include former as well as current members of the Armed Forces. Detail on these definitions and requirements are in the policy, Employee Policy Manual Section 4.4.3.

Under Massachusetts law, all family and/or medical leaves under the PFMLA are capped at 26 weeks in the aggregate in a 52-week period (a Benefit Year).

Leaves for Birth Parents


Childbirth leave (maternity leave) covers time that a faculty member cannot work due to:

  • Prenatal care
  • Childbirth
  • Recovery from childbirth

MIT generally assumes a period of incapacity of eight weeks for childbirth and recovery; that period may be longer if supported by appropriate medical documentation.

Childbirth leave, like other sick/medical leaves, is paid at 100% of the faculty member’s regular pay.

Full policy at Section 7.5.2 Sick and Family Leaves for the Faculty.

Administrative Teaching Relief

If at least six weeks of an eight-week (or longer) childbirth leave falls during an academic semester, the faculty member may request "Administrative Teaching Relief" for the weeks of the semester before and/or after the childbirth leave. The faculty member should first talk with their department, which then makes the request to the Dean’s office on behalf of the faculty member. The Dean's office will normally grant such requests from the birth parent.

During the Administrative Teaching Relief period, the faculty member continues their research and advising duties, and is relieved of teaching and administrative duties. Note that during the actual medical/childbirth leave, no work-related duties are required.

Administrative Teaching Relief may be requested on behalf of any faculty member – male or female – who is out for at least six weeks during a semester due to their own serious health condition. Full policy at Section 7.5.3.

Administrative Teaching Relief is paid at 100% of a faculty member’s regular pay.

In addition to the medical/childbirth leave and any Administrative Teaching Relief, the birth parent is also entitled to parental leave, as described below.

Leaves for All Parents

Parental leave is available for all faculty parents – birth parents, their spouses or partners, adoptive parents, and parents of children in foster placement. For birth parents, parental leave follows the medical/childbirth leave and any Administrative Teaching Relief in the semester of the birth.

MIT offers two options:

  • One semester of Teaching Relief (research and advising work continues); full pay
  • 12 consecutive weeks of Continuous Bonding Leave with no work duties; reduced pay

Teaching Relief – one semester

  • Pay: 100% of faculty member’s regular pay
  • Faculty member is relieved of teaching and administrative duties; continues to fulfill their thesis-advising responsibilities and sustain their research program
  • This is considered a “reduced schedule” bonding leave under the PFMLA
    • DLC may need to relieve faculty member of some duties during IAP or at another time to meet full 12 weeks’ worth of leave under the PFMLA
  • The semester of Teaching Relief must begin within one year of the child’s arrival
  • Full policy at Section 7.5.3 Faculty Teaching Relief
Requirements for Teaching Relief

To be eligible for Teaching Relief, the parent must commit to spending the majority of their academic time on the care of and responsibility for a newborn child or a child newly placed with them for adoption or foster care.

If a faculty member does not in fact spend the majority of their academic time on child care – for example, due to changes in child care arrangements – the faculty member must notify their department as soon as possible. See Section 7.5.3 for more detail, including changes in the faculty member's child care duties.   

Continuous Bonding Leave – up to 12 consecutive weeks

  • Pay: First 4 weeks at full pay; remaining time (up to 8 weeks) at State Formula Rate (the 2023 state maximum is $1,129.82/week)
  • MIT does not permit intermittent Bonding Leave for faculty, except in the form of Teaching Relief
  • Continuous Bonding Leave must be completed within 1 year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster placement
  • Full policy at Section 7.5.2 Sick and Family Leave for the Faculty

A faculty member may take Continuous Bonding Leave or Teaching Relief, but not both leaves, for the same birth, adoption, or foster placement. (Note: the birth, adoption, or foster placement of multiple children at the same time is considered one event, and leads to one, not multiple, leaves.)

Additional Information

Summer months

Generally, faculty medical and family leaves are not available during summer months. However, cases where the faculty member would have worked and earned summer salary during the leave period will be considered by the Dean's office on a case-by-case basis.

Effects of childbirth and parental leaves on tenure and sabbatical clocks

Tenure clock

New birth parents are automatically granted a one-year extension of their tenure clock.  Note that the birth of twins or multiple children results in a one-year extension (not a multi-year extension). The faculty member may choose to opt out of any automatic extension.

Other parents by birth (spouse or partner) or adoption are granted a one-year extension of the tenure clock if they meet the following conditions:

  • For at least six months within the first twelve months of the child’s birth or adoption, the faculty member:
    1. will be the child’s primary or equal caregiver, and
    2. will spend the majority of their academic time on caring for the child

As with birth parents, the birth of multiple children at the same time (twins, triplets, etc.) results in a one-year extension, not a multi-year extension. The same is true for parents who adopt more than one child at the same time; the adoption event results in a one-year extension.

Tenure clock extensions for foster parents are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Note that other faculty leaves, such as for a different serious medical condition or for other family reasons, may result in extensions of the tenure clock, as described in Policies & Procedures Section 3.2.1 Extension of Tenure Clock for Leaves.

Sabbatical clock

Continuous Bonding Leave generally does not count as service for eligibility for sabbaticals; a case-by-case review may be done if the faculty member takes a very short Continuous Bonding Leave (that is, far less than the full 12 week leave). On the other hand, a semester of Teaching Relief, where research and thesis advising continue, does count as service for eligibility for sabbaticals. Where a birth parent spends part of a semester on medical leave and part on Administrative Teaching Relief, the semester generally counts towards the sabbatical clock; however, in unusual circumstances (such as a prolonged medical leave during the semester), a case-by-case determination will be done.

Health care coverage for your child

If you have healthcare coverage through MIT and wish to add your child as a dependent under your MIT healthcare plan, you must complete and deliver a health plan enrollment/change for within 31 days after the birth, adoption, or placement of your child. Having a baby or adopting or fostering a child qualifies as a Life Event, and therefore allows you to make changes to your MIT health plan. You should contact Benefits at benefits@mit.edu to start this process. Note that MIT cannot make exceptions to the 31-day deadline.


Serious Health Condition

The PFMLA defines a serious health condition as a physical or mental condition that prevents one from doing their job either because they are unable to, or because they need time to get treated or recover from treatment. A Serious Health Condition is an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves (a) inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical facility; or (b) continuing treatment by a Healthcare Provider.

The term Serious Health Condition includes any period of incapacity due to pregnancy or for prenatal care, and for childbirth and recovery from childbirth (childbirth/maternity leave).

State Formula Rate 

When leaves are paid at the state formula rate, the payment is calculated based on a formula applied to the staff faculty member's actual past wages. In 2024, the maximum weekly benefit rate is $1,149.90.

The Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (which oversees the PFMLA) has an online calculator that allows employees to estimate the amount of gross pay they will be paid under the state formula, based on the employee’s earnings over the prior four quarters. This calculator is a helpful tool for employees looking to see what their rate of pay would be for any MIT family leave that is paid at the state formula rate. Because the calculator only provides an estimate, the final gross amount may differ.

Deductions will be taken from the gross pay at the state formula rate for items like taxes, your share of health premiums, and other deductions regularly taken from your paycheck. Deductions that are based on a percentage of pay, like a 401(k) contribution, will be reduced if your paycheck is reduced because you are paid at the state formula rate.

Family Member

For leave purposes, a Family Member is the spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, or parent of a spouse or domestic partner of the employee; a person who stood in loco parentis to the employee when the employee was a minor child; or a grandchild, grandparent, or sibling of the employee.

Note that the federal and state laws governing sick/medical and family leaves – including the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Massachusetts Earned sick time law, and the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA) – have different definitions of the term "family member." MIT’s sick and family leave policies for faculty and staff use the PFMLA definition, which is the broadest. 

Health Care Provider

For leaves for faculty, a health care provider is defined as follows:

In all cases, the professional (doctor, nurse practitioner etc.) must be licensed by the state in which the individual practices.

  • Doctor of medicine or doctor of osteopathy
  • Dentist
  • Podiatrist
  • Clinical psychologist
  • Optometrist
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Nurse midwife
  • Clinical social worker
  • Physician assistant
  • Chiropractor, but only for treatment consisting of manual manipulation of the spine to correct a subluxation as demonstrated by X-ray to exist) for subluxation of the spine
  • Certain Christian Science Practitioners listed with the First Church of Christ, Scientist
  • Health care provider listed above who practices in a country other than the United States, who is authorized to practice in accordance with the law of that country, and who is performing within the scope of his or her practice as defined under such law.
  • For leaves under the FMLA only, any health care provider from whom an employer or the employer's group health plan's benefits manager will accept certification of the existence of a serious health condition to substantiate a claim for benefits.

Note that cosmetic surgery is not covered by MIT's leave laws nor by the PFMLA.

Request a Medical, Parental, or Family Leave

Human Resources will be working with the Assistant Deans to clarify and streamline the processing for leaves. Updates will be posted here. In the interim, the DLCI should notify their Dean’s office about any leaves (medical/maternity, teaching relief, and continuous bonding) and tenure clock extensions. Faculty members who are birth parents should contact the Human Resources Disabilities Services and Medical Leaves Office (DSMLO).