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Family Leave Policy

Clinical fellows, staff fellows and senior staff fellows are covered by the same provisions as regular Civil Service employees for annual leave, sick leave, and holidays. They can use accumulated annual leave for the birth or adoption of a child; and accumulated sick leave during pregnancy and confinement due to the birth (the period of incapacitation being determined by an employee's physician) or for adoption-related purposes. They may also use up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in accordance with the Family Medical Leave Act and sick leave for family care or bereavement, in accordance with the Family Friendly Leave Act.

Visiting associates and visiting scientists (appointed for at least 13 months) are also covered by the Civil Service and Family Medical Leave Act provisions.

Intramural Research Training Authority (IRTA) and Visiting fellows do not earn or accrue annual or sick leave (but are excused on federal holidays); however, training preceptors and sponsors may excuse fellows for reasonable cause such as ill health and personal emergencies, and may grant a reasonable period annually for vacation, personal relaxation, and cultural exchange. On December 4, 1996, the Scientific Directors provided guidance, agreeing to set six weeks as their recommended minimum for excused maternity absence for visiting fellows and IRTAs, with two weeks of excused absence for new fathers. The legality of this recommendation is being reviewed and the policy is subject to supervisor/sponsor discretion, as well as future changes. Although stipends and health insurance allowance continue through such periods of excused absence, the period of the fellowship award is not extended due to lost time in training.

Tenure-track investigators in the Civil Service are also governed by the Family Medical Leave Act. By making prior arrangements, tenure-track investigators may stop or slow the clock on the six years they are allotted on the tenure track. With the written approval of the laboratory or branch chief, the tenure clock may be stopped for up to one year to allow a candidate extended family or sick leave. The tenure clock may be stopped to accommodate leave and/or leave without pay for reasons such as childbirth, adoption, major illness, or family emergency. The tenure clock will not be stopped for normal annual or sick leave. Candidates should have documentation of stop-the-clock leave on file at the time leave is taken, or shortly thereafter. With prior approval from the laboratory or branch chief, the tenure clock may also be adjusted to permit candidates to work part-time to allow them to care for children or other family members. The adjustment in the tenure track will be proportionate with the reduction made in working hours and salary. Thus, if a scientist arranges to hold a half-time appointment for his or her first two years as a tenure-track candidate, completing the tenure track with a full-time appointment, he or she would be evaluated for tenure seven years after entering the tenure track, but with six years cumulative time on the job. Adjustments in the tenure clock may not be made after the fact, and cannot postpone tenure evaluation more than 10 calendar years past the date a candidate began the tenure track.

Commissioned Corps members are in a completely different personnel system. Although they essentially have unlimited sick leave, they are not subject to the Family Leave Act and cannot elect to work part-time to accommodate new family responsibilities or for other reasons; thus, stopping or slowing the tenure clock is not an option without inactivating from the Corps.

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