Guidelines & Policies


Benefits for postdocs at Harvard vary depending on the postdoc’s employment classification. To participate in many of Harvard’s benefits, you must be:
- Employed on a regular University payroll
- Receiving a paycheck from Harvard
- Working at least 17.5 hours per week or paid at a base annual rate of at least $15,000

Click HERE for information about Benefits for Postdocs

Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment Policy
The Harvard Medical School (HMS) and School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) are committed to maintaining a safe and healthy educational and work environment in which no member of the HMS/HSDM community is, on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity, excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination in any University program or activity.

Harvard University has adopted a new Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment Policy, which applies to all Harvard students, faculty, staff, Harvard appointees, and third parties.

Find out more HERE.

Academic Appointment
Postdoctoral fellows are granted the academic title of "Research Fellow" in their academic appointing department. The academic appointment and title provides you with a Harvard University ID badge and privileges associated with officers of Harvard University. Your academic appointment as a "Research Fellow" is an annual appointment that commences at the time of your arrival and is renewable on July 1st of each year to end on June 30th of the following year or until your postdoctoral training is completed.

A "Research Fellow" is described in the Faculty of Medicine Handbook ( as an "individual who holds an advanced degree in an appropriate field and who are conducting mentored research with members of the faculty as postdoctoral fellows to develop their research ability and skill." Your appointment record is maintained by the HMS Office of Human Resources (HR) in the University's HR/Payroll/Benefits system, Peoplesoft.

To learn more view the Handbook and use Document Keyword Search
To search the handbook by a keyword, it is recommend that you open the document within your web browser and select "Control + F" (or "Command + F" on Mac). The search field option will open in the upper right-hand corner (lower left-hand corner on Mac).

Please Note: This appointment is merely the conveyance of an academic title. Although "Research Fellows" working in the Medical School’s affiliated hospitals and institutions may have a HMS appointment, they are generally not paid by Harvard and their salary and benefits derive and are administered through their place of work.

Full time Research Fellows who serve on a 12-month basis are allowed 20 days of vacation per year at a time arranged with their supervisor. This time may not be accrued from year to year, and there can be no payout of unused vacation time when an appointment ends.

Sick Days
Sick leave may be taken as needed. If illness extends beyond two weeks then documentation from a doctor may be required to qualify for short term disability coverage.

Maternity Leave
Click here to download "Maternity Leave Benefits Summary for the Post Docs and Faculty of Harvard Longwood Campus and Affiliate Institutions"
Post Docs here LESS than 7 years: 75% pay of 8 Weeks Short Term Disability + 4 Weeks Parental Leave at 100%
Post Docs here MORE than 7 years: 100 % pay of 8 Weeks Short Term Disability + 4 Weeks Parental Leave

Parental Leave
Parental leave for birth or adoptive parents includes up to four weeks of paid time off,to be taken within the 13 weeks following birth or placement for adoption, paid for through the same source as the postdoc’s salary/stipend. You may choose between two options:
Option 1:One week of leave paid at 100 percent of your current pay rate;
Option 2: Four weeks of leave paid at 75 percent of your current pay rate for those postdocs with less than seven years of service.

Leave of Absence
Please contact the HMS HR Leave of Absence specialist: Rodney Gabriel, (617) 432-7486 or via email:

HMS Salary/Stipend Levels
Each year the preclinical chairs and the Dean of Basic Sciences and Graduate Education set the recommended minimal salary/stipend levels for HMS postdoctoral fellows. Incomes above these guidelines are at the discretion of the individual PIs and/or their departments.

Postdoctoral fellow (employee & stipendee) salaries at HMS will be in compliance with the new FLSA rule as of December 1, 2016. We will increase salaries for those postdocs below the new threshold effective December 1, 2016 and then, consistent with historic practice, align with the NIH FY17 minimum stipend for all postdocs as of July 1, 2017.

Postdoctoral Minimum Salary/Stipend Guidelines beginning July 1, 2016
Years of Experience
HMS Plan for
FY '17
(July 1 - Nov. 30)

HMS Plan for
FY '17 (Dec. 2016 - June 2017)

HMS Plan for
FY '18
(July 2017 - June 2018)
$ 44,370
$ 47,484
$ 47,484
$ 45,900
$ 47,484
$ 47,484
$ 47,268
$ 47,484
$ 48,216
$ 49,152
$ 49,152
$ 50,316
$ 51,120
$ 51,120
$ 52,140
$ 53,160
$ 53,160
$ 54,228
$ 55,296
$ 55,296
$ 56,400
$ 57,504
$ 57,504
$ 58,560


Tax Reporting of Fellowship Income
A fellowship is any amount paid or allowed to, or for the benefit of, an individual to aid such individual in the pursuit of study or research. As Research Fellows at Harvard Medical School are non-degree seeking trainees, any fellowship amount received is considered taxable income. For more information, please see the Tax Services document found HERE. Please be aware that the Tax Services unit and the HMS/HSDM Office for Postdoctoral Fellows cannot administer individual tax advice in paying income taxes and you are strongly encouraged to seek the assistance of tax professionals.
Tax Information for "Non-Employee" postdocs or Postdocs on Fellowships (from the National Postdoctoral Association)

Virtually all postdoc fellowships funded from U.S. sources are subject to income tax because they pay for living expenses. However, often fellowships and traineeships are not subject to automatic tax withholding. This is most often true with “direct-paid” fellowships -- fellowship stipends that are paid directly to the postdoc -- although it is sometimes the case with fellowships that are paid through the institution.

Those fellowships without automatic tax withholding are still subject to the IRS requirement that income tax be paid on a regular basis throughout the tax year, and not all at once at the end of the year. Thus, postdocs without withholding should make estimated tax payments each quarter in order to avoid a penalty.

Postdocs on fellowships must also file a tax return between January 15 and April 15 for the previous tax year. Postdoc fellows and trainees may receive a W-2 or 1099-MISC Form reporting their total fellowship income, or they may receive no summary form at all.
Visit the NPA website for more details.

Environmental, Health and Safety Training
All laboratory personnel (including postdocs) are required to take environmental, health and safety training courses to include common regulatory training requirements for their job category and additional training specific to the type of work they will be performing in the lab. Postdoctoral fellows must complete the mandatory training prior to receiving a Harvard ID card as is outlined in the Risk Assessment Form.
The EH&S Training Management System was replaced in July 2016 with the Harvard Training Portal. This university-level Training Portal includes all your prior EH&S and other Harvard training history, and enables you to keep track of your training assignments, take web-based trainings and register for classroom trainings. For more details and FAQs, see

Annual Refresher Courses: Postdocs are required to take annual refresher training courses in Blood Borne Pathogens and Hazardous Waste. These courses may be can be accessed through the EH&S Harvard Training Portal website.

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Training
If you are a Postdoctoral Fellow engaged in research at Harvard Medical School you are required to participate in RCR training. The Division of Medical Ethics within Harvard Medical School holds a course annually. More details can be found on the website: The website also provides information about other RCR courses in the area.
Send an e-mail to to be notified when the next series of sessions is scheduled.