Birth and Recuperation: NIH Leave Bank

For Birthing Parents:

The NIH Leave Bank can be used to cover time-off for birth and recuperation purposes.

The Leave Bank can approve a standard of:

  • 6 weeks time-off work from date-of-delivery for a vaginal birth or;
  • 8 weeks time-off work from date-of-delivery for a C-section birth or;  
  • 8 weeks time-off from date-of-delivery for a multiple birth, regardless of delivery type

An employee’s accrued sick and annual leave are included in these standard timeframes.

Example: An employee delivers a baby via vaginal birth. They have 2 weeks of annual leave and 2 weeks of sick leave accrual on the date-of-delivery. The Leave Bank will approve 2 weeks of Leave Bank hours, for a total of 6 weeks off work, starting on the date-of-delivery.

Birth and recuperation is processed as a “Personal” medical emergency to give the birthing parent time-off to recover.

Time-off under the Leave Bank may not be granted to care for a healthy child, including in cases of surrogacy, adoption, and fostering. See NIH Guide To: Parental Leave for leave options.

For Family Members:

Spouses and other qualifying family members can apply for Leave Bank hours to cover time-off work to care for the birthing parent. These cases will be processed as “Family” cases and are subject to the 480-hour annual cap for “Family” medical emergencies. The number of Leave Bank hours given is also determined based on the type of delivery.

Submitting an Application:​

  • The Leave Bank Recipient Application and process for becoming a recipient can be accessed here.
  • It is recommended an employee submit an application for Birth and Recuperation purposes 3 to 4 weeks before the estimated due date.
  • If the baby is born earlier or later than expected, the employee should contact the Leave Bank Office and we will adjust the approved dates – no additional medical documentation is needed
  • If the baby is born via unexpected C-section, additional medical documentation confirming the procedure will need to be submitted to the Leave Bank Office for the additional 2 weeks to be approved

Pregnancy and Birth Complications

Additional time-off under the Leave Bank beyond the standard 6/8-week timeframe may be approved if the birthing parent or baby experience a pre or post-birth complication. The Leave Bank Office will process those cases as separate requests and determine how many Leave Bank hours an applicant will be approved for based on the nature of the complication. An employee should contact the Leave Bank Office if a complication occurs to discuss options.

Paid Parental Leave (PPL) and the Leave Bank

If an employee is eligible for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), they have the option of utilizing PPL, following the birth or placement of a child.

PPL and Leave Bank may be used together by an employee following the birth of a child if the employee is FMLA and Leave Bank eligible. Please visit the Leave Bank/PPL FAQ for additional information.


Please visit the Leave Bank Recipient Homepage for more information.

For questions, email or call (301) 443-8393.