Lehigh research assistants (RAs), teaching assistants (TAs), and graduate assistants (GAs) with full-time appointments are eligible for ten days of paid vacation/personal time. Following guidelines established by federal granting agencies, a reasonable amount of time away from obligations is necessary and encouraged to support the physical and mental health of RA/TA/GAs and therefore their retention and ultimate completion of their degrees.
The purpose of this document is to clarify rules and procedures regarding RA/TA/GAs time away to ensure equitable access and avoid confusion over time limits and continuity of stipend payment.
- This policy is especially pertinent for graduate research assistants who are typically funded for 12 months including over semester breaks and summer where work on research is expected, and provides clarity and consistency about limits for time away during those periods.
- Those funded in fall and spring only are also eligible for time away on a prorated basis. In addition, time away must not interfere with teaching obligations or other time-sensitive work.
- Requests for time away must be arranged as far in advance as possible and be approved by the adviser and/or program director.
- Students may need to work over holidays to monitor experiments and/or care of animals and facilities. However, obligations should be shared and scheduled as early as possible. Students who work over a national holiday will receive a floating holiday.
- Appointment letters should include information about the holiday and vacation/time away policy.
- Students who need to be absent for a longer period of time should plan to take a leave of absence for the entire term.
- Students are allowed to use these days for short-term medical issues, bereavement, or care of a family member.
- RA/TA/GAs may have some flexibility regarding working locales. In other words, depending on
- the nature of the work,
- permission from the research adviser, and
- permission from sponsor for work outside the US (if pertinent), the student might be able to be away from campus for a period of time that includes both vacation and remote work.
- Students receiving a stipend may request up to 10 business days in an academic year without suspension of the stipend. Students may take more time away unpaid with permission from the adviser or P.I.
- Unused days do not carry over.
- The academic year includes the semester breaks and the summer.
- Students funded for only the fall and spring semesters have paid time away
- prorated to four days per semester or eight days per year.
- Students can take their time away all at once or in other combinations.
All GA/TA/RAs with full appointment may request up to 10 paid vacation days/personal days in a calendar year in addition to university holidays (with the exception of Labor Day, on which the university holds classes and labs), without suspension of the stipend.
International students must consult with the Office of International Students and Scholars to ensure they remain in compliance with visa requirements.
Unauthorized absences may result in stipend suspension.
Professional travel does not count toward time away.
Students should email their request directly to their supervisor and the supervisor should respond to the request in a timely manner.
In the event of a conflict, the student or supervisor should consult with their graduate associate dean or the associate deputy provost for graduate education.
Graduate Vacation/Personal Time Policy FAQs
Yes. Lehigh research assistants (RAs), teaching assistants (TAs), and graduate assistants (GAs) with full-time appointments are eligible for ten days of paid vacation/personal time. Following guidelines established by federal granting agencies, a reasonable amount of time away from obligations is necessary and encouraged to support the physical and mental health of RA/TA/GAs and therefore their retention and ultimate completion of their degrees. Read the full policy above for more details.
Requests for time away must be arranged as far in advance as possible and be approved by the adviser and/or program director. It is up to the advisor and student to record time away; it does not need to be reported elsewhere.
The current vacation policy is meant to act as a guaranteed minimum ensuring graduate students receive at least 10 paid days off free from all work expectations, modeled after the graduate vacation policy set by NSF.
However, the terms of your grant will determine how much of that time away can be paid. Lehigh's policy allows for ten paid days away with no work expected. However, there are two questions that you'll need to answer before you can approve additional paid time away:
1) Does your grant allow for more paid time away than the ten day limit? If not, is there work that can be assigned that the student can perform remotely (ie, literature reviews, revisions of articles)? If so, the student can continue to be paid while away from campus.
2) Does your grant allow for work outside of the United States? If the answer is no and your student is international, then you cannot continue to pay the student after the tenth day.
No, students who travel for professional reasons should not count those days toward their time away allotment.