Many people plan to get away from the Lab for vacation in the coming months, which is an essential break from work to recharge and obtain a new perspective on life. If your vacation plans include international travel, there are various requirements for combining personal time off and Lab work. 

Performing work outside the United States must be reviewed and approved in advance by your supervisor and division director.  Depending on the country and the travel duration, your Associate Lab Director and the Lab’s Deputy Director for Research might also need to review and approve the work. International work introduces potential issues, including legal, security, and tax requirements. The approval process will take 30 days for most countries and over 40 days if travel is to a country of risk: the People’s Republic of China, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), and the Russian Federation.

If you feel you need to perform critical work tasks while on personal travel outside the United States, talk with your supervisor about other options. Is there someone else who can do what needs to be done? Can a deliverable be shifted until you return? 

At the Lab, work-life balance is not just a concept. It’s important you take the time to relax, visit with family, and have new experiences.  Your work will be waiting for you when you return. 


  • Joscha says:

    For employees with family outside of the US, part of good work-life balance also includes the option to work remotely while you visit your family. The alternative is that you have to use your entire annual vacation time to spend time with your family, leaving you with no vacation time left for the rest of the year. This guideline sounds like international tele-work should be only performed if absolutely essential and if it cannot be avoided. My opinion is that enabling the option for remote work while outside of the US even if not a critical need, but desired by the employee, significantly increases work-life balance and makes LBNL a better employer. An employees desire to work while visiting their family does not mean that they are a workaholic, but can also mean that they value their vacation time.

    • Elements Editor says:

      Thank you for your comment. We agree that work-life balance is important; the Lab wants you to have that balance. We understand the challenges we all face balancing work commitments with our personal lives, especially for those with family living at long distances. We encourage all Lab employees to enjoy their personal time off work for rest and relaxation. Vacation leave is provided for such purposes, whether their families are international or within the United States.

      However, Berkeley Lab is a US-based employer with the general expectation that work must be performed within the US. As such, tax rules, other employment regulations, and legal considerations govern work outside the United States. Accordingly, our policies provide for work outside the US only on a limited and exceptional basis.

      That’s why we need you to go through the process of discussing your plan with your supervisor to determine if working while abroad within current policy parameters can be supported.

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