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Update on Harvard’s Coronavirus Workforce Policies

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Researchers,

Whether you are working on-campus in a full or limited capacity or performing your duties remotely, your commitment and flexibility has helped us keep COVID-19 manageable on our campus so that our students could continue to have the best possible learning environment, despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic. As we plan for a more robust return to campus in the fall, including beginning to resume more on-campus work and academic activity over the summer, I write to provide updates on our COVID workforce policies.

Time off for vaccination

If you have not already been vaccinated, please take time now to plan your vaccine. 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.

The University will grant up to a half day, pro-rated depending on regularly scheduled hours, for union-represented staff to receive their COVID-19 vaccine during work hours. Employees who receive a two-dose vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer) can take up to four hours for each appointment. Exempt employees will be provided with flexibility in order to take time to receive the vaccine. All employees may use sick time, if needed, for any reaction they feel following vaccination. Any employee who previously used sick time to get their COVID-19 vaccine can request a reversal of up to four hours per dose of that used sick time. Employees should consult with their managers to request time off for a vaccination appointment, request a reversal of previously used sick time to receive the vaccine, or request sick time for any reaction following vaccination.

Emergency Excused Absence Policy

Since March 2020, the University has supported those employees whose work has been displaced due to the pandemic with the Emergency Excused Absence Policy. The current policy, which will be extended through December 31, 2021, may be utilized to sustain up to 70% of an idled employee’s regular pay. Notably, through April 30, 2021, the University has provided approximately $40 million in compensation and benefits continuity to idled Harvard employees.

The University has also provided an estimated $15 million to support idled contract workers as of April 30, 2021. 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. Individual Schools and Units will communicate directly with their vendors regarding service and capacity needs.

Dependent Well Care Benefit and amended sick leave policies

The previously amended policies related to the flexible use of sick time, including the ability to accrue negative sick leave balances of up to 14 days for illness or to meet isolation or quarantine requirements, will remain in place through December 31, 2021.

Through August 31, 2021, employees may continue to access the up to ten (10) days of paid time off provided by the University’s Coronavirus Dependent Well Care Benefit to care for dependents whose schooling or care arrangements have been disrupted by the pandemic. This benefit is intended to reduce the stress that families continue to face due to the competing demands for work and caring for dependents.

Upcoming time to “unplug”

As shared earlier this spring, the University will provide faculty, staff, and researchers with additional opportunities to “unplug” this summer through two additional paid days off in conjunction with upcoming holiday observances – Tuesday, June 1 (following the Memorial Day holiday), and Friday, July 2 (in advance of the Independence Day holiday). Hopefully these additional days off will provide you with the opportunity to relax and step away from the challenges and demands of work.

As we prepare to confer degrees on the Class of 2021, know that your dedication over this academic year has made it possible. Thank you for all you have done to ensure Harvard could fulfill its learning and research mission and the success of our students. Your safety and wellbeing will continue to be our highest priority as we plan for the fall.


Katie Lapp
Executive Vice President