Benefits for Postdoctoral Appointments


Penn State Human Resources offers an explanation of postdoctoral benefits as well as a detailed handout for 2024.

Questions regarding benefits should be directed to  For a leave of absence, please direct your questions to


New Parent Accommodations



This document serves as a recommended guideline and is not considered a formal policy. Colleges and departments are encouraged to use these guidelines as a model when discerning the needs of postdoctoral parents.


  • Purpose
  • Parental Accommodation Defined
  • Accommodations
  • Eligibility Requirements
  • Acquiring Parental Accommodation
  • Financial Support & Administration
  • Statement of Minimum


Consistent with Penn State's continuous effort to support the personal and professional development of all members of our community, this guideline on new parent accommodation seeks to reduce the professional and personal stresses that can develop when postdoctoral scholars and fellows become parents. New parenthood, whether by childbirth or adoption, can put the careers of some postdoctoral scholars and fellows at risk because of the added and intensive caregiving responsibilities. This guideline is designed to provide postdoctoral appointees with an opportunity to integrate parenthood with their academic scholarship and research. In addition to providing assistance to families, it seeks to accomplish three particular institutional goals:

  1. to reduce attrition for postdoctoral scholars and fellows who become parents during their careers at Penn State;
  2. to standardize the treatment of postdoctoral scholars and fellows who become parents during their time at Penn State;
  3. to establish an institutional accommodation guideline that is recognized by external agencies and other funding sources for postdoctoral scholars and fellows.


Penn State will reasonably accommodate the needs of its postdoctoral scholars and fellows when they become parents. "Parent" is defined as a man who fathers a child, a mother who gives birth to a child, or any person who adopts a child or the documented, same-sex partner of a birth parent. A postdoctoral scholar or fellow who becomes a parent as defined above is eligible for paid leave under this guideline upon the birth of a biological child or when an adoptive child is placed within the individual’s custody and adoption proceedings are officially underway. "Accommodation" is defined as the reasonable allowances as outlined in this document.


The University wishes to foster cooperation between postdoctoral scholars and fellows and their respective supervisors and departments during any period of new parenthood. While accommodations offered by supervisors and professional colleagues beyond those listed here are encouraged, they are not required.

If the leave is approved, the postdoctoral scholar or fellow will be excused from his/her regular postdoctoral duties for a period of up to six weeks, or until the end of the appointment (whichever occurs first), immediately following the birth or adoption of a child. Note that this guideline does not address occasions for which medical care is required prior to the birth of a child or situations that necessitate extended medical treatment because of complications that may arise during or following the birth of a child. Such occasions, which require extended paid leave due to illness or disability, are to be handled in the manner outlined in the HR68 policy regarding leaves for postdoctoral appointments. During the six weeks leave, the postdoctoral scholar or fellow will continue to receive the same income and benefits as provided previously by the University. Health care benefits, including health insurance as had previously applied to trainees and their dependents, will remain unchanged.

Postdoctoral scholars or fellows should alert their supervisors as soon as they recognize the need for an impending accommodation period so that any necessary work adjustments might be made. During the accommodation, individuals may wish to maintain a certain amount of involvement with their supervisors and other professional activities at the University to best facilitate a smooth transition upon their return. Unless otherwise mutually agreed, postdoctoral scholars or fellows will not be required to perform any duties for the duration of their accommodation.

Approval of accommodation will automatically extend deadlines for work assignments, proposals or related work, and other responsibilities for the duration of the accommodation period. Faculty and other supervisors are expected to work with postdoctoral scholars or fellows to make fair and appropriate alternative arrangements during the accommodation period.


An individual is eligible for parental accommodation under this guideline if she, he, or they is the primary caregiver for a newborn or newly adopted child and is currently appointed by the University as a 48-week postdoctoral appointment. 

This guideline is applicable for the length of the appointment. International postdoctoral scholars or fellows will retain their appointment status throughout the parental accommodation period. International postdoctoral appointments should consult with the Office of Global Programs during the application process to ensure their visa status will remain unchanged throughout their time at Penn State.


Postdoctoral scholars and fellows must submit a written request for an accommodation to the Absence Management Team,  The absence management staff will consult with the postdoctoral scholar or fellow’s faculty supervisor. The Absence Management staff will also inform the  Human Resources representative of the college and notify the postdoctoral scholar or fellow regarding the outcome of the request as well as the supervisor. Approval for parental accommodation must be granted before individuals can be excused from their regular activities. Clarification on a request can be sought from the respective college’s HR and/or Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (


In most cases, postdoctoral appointees who have been funded by their supervisor’s external grant (or by an external grant from another unit if they are not funded by their supervisor) will receive their parental accommodation pay through that specific grant provided that the granting agency permits such action. If the funding agency has terms and conditions which do not permit funding pursuant to this guideline, the supervisor should fund the parental accommodation period with other funds. Postdoctoral appointees who work in positions funded by colleges or other administrative units of the University should receive their parental accommodation pay from unit resources.

The Human Resources representative for the relevant unit will ensure compliance and proper administration of this guideline for postdoctoral trainees. If a request for a new parent accommodation is denied, the postdoctoral scholar or fellow has the right to appeal the decision. Appeals and outstanding circumstances will be reviewed by HR and the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs in consultation with the Associate Dean of Research for the respective college or unit. Appeals should be submitted in writing to the Human Resources representative within 10 days of receiving the notification that the original request has been denied.


This guideline sets the minimum parental accommodations recommended for postdoctoral appointments. Individual parties are encouraged to work collaboratively to ensure these minimum accommodations, but they should feel free to negotiate additional accommodations as mutually agreeable. Indeed, additional accommodations may be necessary, especially in medically critical situations.