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NSF's Career-Life Balance Initiative
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Frequently Asked Questions on Career-Life Balance

  1. Can the period of a federal award be extended for researchers who take a leave of absence due to dependent-care responsibilities, including the birth or adoption of a child?
  2. Can NSF award funds be used to pay for the replacement of project personnel who take a leave of absence due to dependent-care responsibilities?
  3. Can institutions/organizations use NSF award funds for dependent-care expenses?
  4. Can institutions/organizations use NSF award funds to pay for employee leave taken for dependent-care responsibilities?
  5. Can NSF award funds be used for travel and associated dependent-care expenses for dependents of individuals funded on an NSF award?
  6. Can conference/workshop awards or travel funds from research awards be used to support child care at conferences and workshops?
  7. Can awardees request supplemental funding to support additional personnel to sustain research when the Principal Investigator is on family leave?
  8. New! If a CAREER awardee requests a Career-Life Balance supplement, is the $12,000 supplemental funding amount exclusive of fringe benefits and indirect costs?

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  1. Can the period of a federal award be extended for researchers who take a leave of absence due to dependent-care responsibilities, including the birth or adoption of a child?

    No-cost extensions, processed in accordance with NSF-approved procedures (see NSF Award and Administration Guide Chapter I.D.3c), may be used when the extended absence of a PI or co-PI is necessary. For certain larger projects where a predetermined level of participation of Key Personnel is required, a substitute may need to be approved. In these cases, the NSF Program Officer should be advised well in advance if possible.

    Notification of an absence or change in level of effort must be sent to NSF in accordance with the applicable grant general condition and/or terms of the specific agreement.

  2. Can NSF award funds be used to pay for the replacement of project personnel who take a leave of absence due to dependent-care responsibilities?

    Yes. NSF awards may be used to pay the salaries of project support personnel that replace individuals who take a leave of absence due to dependent-care responsibilities.

  3. Can institutions/organizations use NSF award funds for dependent-care expenses?
  4. Costs incurred by the awardee organization under employee morale and welfare for dependent-care expenses (daycare facilities or other child/elder care arrangements) may be allowed, provided these types of expenses are charged through the application of fringe benefits or indirect costs (also known as Facilities & Administrative Costs). Any such charges must be made in accordance with established awardee institutional policy as approved by the cognizant agency and consistently applied to both Federal and non-Federal sponsors.

  5. Can institutions/organizations use NSF award funds to pay for employee leave taken for dependent-care responsibilities?

    Costs incurred by the awardee organization for paid time off (e.g., sick leave, vacation, or time off related to family-friendly institutional leave policies) to address dependent-care responsibilities may be allowed provided these types of expenses are charged through the application of fringe benefits or indirect costs. Any such charges must be made in accordance with established awardee institutional policy as approved by the cognizant agency and consistently applied to both Federal and non-Federal sponsors.

    Direct charges to NSF awards for such costs are generally not appropriate unless specifically approved by the cognizant federal agency in the negotiated rate agreement.  In addition, in order to be allocable to a given NSF award, direct charges should be limited in proportion to the amount of time or effort the employee actually devoted to and/or accrued (or would have accrued) while working on the NSF grant-supported project.

  6. Can NSF award funds be used for travel and associated dependent-care expenses for dependents of individuals funded on an NSF award?

    NSF award funds may not be used for domestic travel costs or associated dependent-care expenses for individuals traveling on NSF award funds. Travel costs associated with dependents may be allowable for International travel in accordance with Award and Administration Guide Chapter V.B.4, which contains several stipulations, including that travel must be continuous for a period of six months or more.

  7. Can conference/workshop awards or travel funds from research awards be used to support child care at conferences and workshops?

    NSF award funds may not be used to pay for travel costs or expenses related to onsite care (e.g., daycare) for dependents of participants at NSF-sponsored conferences and workshops. NSF-sponsored conferences and workshops are encouraged to consider child-care services to ease the burden on attendees, but the costs of such services are the responsibility of those that choose to utilize the accommodations.

  8. Can awardees request supplemental funding to support additional personnel to sustain research when the Principal Investigator is on family leave?

    Yes. NSF issued Dear Colleague Letter: Career-Life Balance (CLB) Initiative to announce the opportunity to submit supplemental funding requests to support additional personnel to sustain research when the PI is on family leave. Special instructions for use by principal investigators and sponsored projects offices in preparation and submission of CAREER Career-Life Balance supplemental funding requests are available at https://www.nsf.gov/career-life-balance/suppfunds.jsp

  9. If a CAREER awardee requests a Career-Life Balance supplement, is the $12,000 supplemental funding amount exclusive of fringe benefits and indirect costs?

    Yes. CAREER awardees may request up to 3 months of salary to support additional personnel (e.g., research technicians or equivalent) to sustain research when the PI is on family leave. In accordance with the Dear Colleague Letter on the Career-Life Balance Initiative, a maximum of $12,000 in salary compensation may be requested for this purpose. The fringe benefits and associated indirect costs would be in addition to the salary payment and therefore, the total supplement request could amount to more than $12,000.

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