Overview of Employee Leaves

MIT provides paid leaves to most employees when they are unable to work due to injury or illness.

The policies differ for benefits-eligible staff and for non-benefits eligible staff. See an overview below.

Sick/Medical Leaves

For benefits-eligible staff

  • Benefits-eligible staff may use accrued sick time 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.)
    • Accrued sick time is paid at 100% pay
  • Sick time is accrued on a monthly basis for all staff
    • At hire, employees are credited with 20 days of sick time
    • After 1 year of service, sick time accrues at the rate of 1 day per completed month of service, like vacation time
    • Sick time accruals are capped at 132 days for salaried staff and for all new hires
      • Higher caps apply to support staff hired on or before December 31, 2020
  • For serious health conditions, staff have a choice to use either their accrued sick time (100% pay) or Serious Illness Reduced Pay (SIRP; 80% of pay)
    • SIRP replaces Extended Sick Leave for hourly paid staff
    • SIRP also is available for salaried staff
    • Salaried staff hired before January 1, 2021 are also eligible for Transitional Salaried Serious Illness Pay at 100%. See Employment Policy Manual Section 4.3.3.3.
  • Staff giving birth may use their accrued sick time or SIRP for:
    • Prenatal care appointments
    • Time they are unable to work due to pregnancy
    • Childbirth, and recovery from childbirth
      • The usual period for childbirth and recovery is presumed to be 8 weeks; where needed and supported by medical documentation, a longer medical leave may be granted

All leaves under the PFMLA (for sick leave and/or family leave) are capped at 26 weeks, in the aggregate, in a 52-week period (called a Benefit Year).

  • For leaves due to a staff member’s serious health condition, the 26 week cap includes time paid under MIT’s sick time and SIRP policies
    • Example: Employee who uses 10 weeks of sick time for a serious health condition may take up to 16 weeks of SIRP for that same condition where medically necessary (26 week total).

Learn more about sick time tracking.

For non-benefits eligible staff

Non-benefits eligible staff working in Massachusetts are eligible for:

  • Up to 5 days of accrued sick time (accrued at the rate of 1 hour/30 hours worked), which can be used for minor illness or injury, medical appointments, and/or serious health conditions
  • Up to 20 weeks paid at the state formula rate (see below under Definitions) for serious health conditions only
    • If any accrued sick time is used for a serious health condition, that time counts towards the 20 weeks
  • Staff giving birth may also use their accrued sick time and time paid at the state formula rate for:
    • Prenatal care appointments
    • Time they are unable to work due to pregnancy
    • Childbirth, and to recover from childbirth
      • The usual period for childbirth and recovery is presumed to be 8 weeks; where needed and supported by medical documentation, a longer medical leave may be granted

All leaves that fall under the PFMLA (for sick leave and/or family leave) are capped at 26 weeks in the aggregate in a 52-week period (Benefit Year).

For details, refer to the Employment Policy Manual Section 4.3, Leaves for Employee Injury or Illness.

Family Leaves

For benefits-eligible staff

MIT provides three types of family leaves for benefits-eligible staff:

1. For parents to bond with a new child (consisting of Paid Parental Leave and/or Bonding Leave)

2. To care for a family member with a serious health condition

3. For certain reasons when a family member is or was in the Armed Forces

For bonding with a new child
  • Benefits-eligible parents of a child by birth, adoption, or foster placement may take 20 days of MIT’s Paid Parental Leave within 1 year of the child’s birth, adoption, or placement
    • Paid Parental Leave is paid at 100% of regular pay
  • Following Paid Parental Leave, new parents may take up to 8 weeks of Bonding Leave
    • This leave is paid at the state formula rate (see below under Definitions) and must also be taken within 1 year of the child’s birth, adoption, or placement
    • Note: the 20 days/4 weeks of Paid Parental Leave counts towards the 12 weeks of Bonding Leave provided under the PFMLA.
To care for a family member with a serious health condition
  • A staff member may use up to 5 days of their accrued sick time as "sick family" time, paid at 100%
  • Sick family time is limited to 5 days per anniversary year
  • After those 5 days, the staff member may take up to 11 weeks of family leave paid at the state formula rate (see below under Definitions)
  • Alternatively, if the staff member has used all their sick family leave, or if they choose not to use their 5 days of sick family leave at 100% pay, they may be paid for up to 12 weeks at the state formula rate
Leaves related to family members currently or formerly 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.

All leaves under the PFMLA for family leave and/or medical leave are capped at 26 weeks in the aggregate in a 52-week period (a Benefit Year).

For non-benefits eligible staff

Non-benefits eligible staff working in Massachusetts may be eligible for paid family leaves:

For bonding with a new child
  • Parents of a child by birth, adoption, or foster placement may take up to 12 weeks of Bonding Leave 
    • This leave is paid at the state formula rate (see below under Definitions) and must be taken within 1 year of the child’s birth, adoption, or placement
To care for a family member with a serious health condition
  • A staff member may use up to 5 days of their accrued sick time as "sick family" time, paid at 100%
  • After 5 days of accrued sick time, a staff member may take  up to 11 weeks of family leave paid at the state formula rate (see below under Definitions)
  • Alternatively, if the staff member has used all of their accrued sick time or if they choose not to take it for this purpose, they may be paid up to 12 weeks at the state formula rate
Leaves related to family members currently or formerly in the Armed Forces

The same benefits and rules as for benefits-eligible staff apply; please refer to that information above.

Maternity and Parental Leaves

Maternity Leave

Leaves for employees giving birth (“maternity leave”) fall under MIT’s sick leave policies. Maternity leaves cover time that an employee cannot work due to:

  • Childbirth
  • Recovery from childbirth
  • Parental care

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

Benefits-eligible staff may use their accrued sick time for maternity leave, or may use SIRP. Salaried staff employed as of December 31, 2020 may use the Transitional Salaried Serious Illness Pay as provided in Section 4.3.3.3.

Graphic of stacking leaves

Maternity leave for non-benefits eligible staff working in Massachusetts is paid via any accrued sick time under the Massachusetts Earned sick time law or at the state formula rate (see below under Definitions).

Paid Parental Leave and Bonding Leave

Benefits-eligible new parents – birth parents, adoptive parents, and foster parents – are generally eligible for MIT’s Paid Parental Leave followed by Bonding Leave, for a total of 12 weeks.

MIT Paid Parental Leave is 20 days, and is paid 100% of usual pay. Bonding Leave is 8 additional weeks, and is paid at the state formula rate (see below under Definitions).

Non-benefits eligible new parents working in Massachusetts are also eligible for Bonding Leave for up to 12 weeks, paid at the state formula rate.

Paid Parental Leave and Bonding Leave must be completed within 12 months after the child’s birth, adoption, or foster placement.

Transitional rule for 2021: Parents may take up to 12 weeks of Bonding Leave in 2021 even if they took leave for bonding with a new child in 2020. This leave must be completed within 12 months of the birth, adoption, or placement of the child. MIT Paid Parental Leave is only paid once for the same child.

Graphic of stacking leaves

For details, refer to the Employment Policy Manual Section 4.4, Family Leaves.

Checklist for new parents

Human Resources has developed a chart with steps for new parents to help guide them through the leave process. Download it below.

 Action Steps for New Parents

Definitions

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 ("maternity leave").

See information on the medical documentation that is required for leaves related to serious health conditions.

State Formula Rate

When leaves are paid at the state formula rate,  the payment is calculated based on a formula applied to the staff member's actual past wages. Currently, PFMLA benefits under this formula are  capped at $850/week. 

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 medical or 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.

How to calculate your pay using the state formula rate

Learn how to calculate your pay at the state formula rate during a leave.

Family Member

The federal and state laws governing sick 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 general sick and family leave policies use the PFMLA definition, which is also the most broad.  However, MIT’s specific policies on the FMLA (Employment Policy Manual Section 4.8.3)  and Earned sick time (Employment Policy Manual Section 4.3.8) use the definitions required by those laws.  The chart below contains the different definitions of "family member."

Family Member for Sick Leaves and Family Leaves

Leaves under the by FMLA,  and Mass. Earned Sick Time

 

Covered by Mass. Earned Sick TimeCovered by PFMLA and MIT’s family leave policies

Spouse, domestic partner

Spouse, domestic partner (same definition)

Spouse, domestic partner (same definition)

Child (under 18, or over 18 with a disability that renders child incapable of self-care)

Child (same definition)

Child (same definition)

Parent

This includes someone who stood in the place of a parent (“in loco parentis”) when the employee was a child

Parent  (same definition)

Parent  (same definition)

 

Parent of spouse or domestic partner (that is, parent-in-law)

Parent of spouse or domestic partner (parent-in-law)

  

Grandparent

  

Grandchild

  

Sibling

Health Care Provider

The federal and state laws governing sick 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) – also have different definitions of  the term "health care provider." As with the term "family member," MIT’s sick leave policies (sick time and SIRP) use the PFMLA definition, which is the broadest. However, MIT’s specific policies on the FMLA (Employment Policy Manual Section 4.8.3)  and Earned sick time (Employment Policy Manual Section 4.3.8) use the definitions required by those laws.  The list below contains the different definitions of "health care provider."

 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.

See information on the medical documentation that is required for leaves related to serious health conditions.

Request a Paid Leave

 Request a Leave

For unpaid personal leaves, use this form.

Have Questions or Need Help?

See our FAQs on leaves or contact leavepolicies@mit.edu.