October 20, 2016
Postdoc Salary Changes and New Overtime Rules
As we have been announcing here all summer, on May 18, 2016 the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released the final rule increasing the salary threshold for white-collar exemptions to the federal overtime pay requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) from $23,660 to $47,476. DOL also announced that it will automatically increase the threshold every three years and that employers will need to be in compliance with the new rule by December 1, 2016.
This Department of Labor ruling goes a long way toward improving salary equity and fairness. It is estimated that 37-40K postdocs will be impacted nationally.
What does this mean for us at UW? The Provost, with approval from the Board of Deans and Chancellors, has set UW Policy as follows:
- Effective Dec 1, 2016, postdoc appointments must be at 100% FTE, with a minimum salary of $3,957/month or $913/week.
- This ruling includes all postdoc fellows regardless of visa status or funding source.
- Temporary and partial leave requests can be made if a postdoc needs to reduce from 100% FTE for personal or family reasons.
Where will the funds come from to bridge the gap in salaries? In consultation with the Office of Research, Academic HR, and the Provost’s Office, there are three options for finding funds for bridging these salary gaps:
- Rebudgeting funds within grants (with program officer approval)*
- Supplementing with funds from departments or schools and colleges
- If both of those options are exhausted, then the Dean of the School or College will compile a list of requests for Provost Bridge Funding, available for one year only.
The Provost’s Bridge Funding was created to ease the burden of transitioning to higher salaries until grant funding and budgets can catch up. NIH has agreed to raise the stipend levels to new FLSA minimums beginning fiscal year 2017. *If someone proposes rebudgeting your travel or professional development funds from within the grant, this is not appropriate. You are still entitled to professional development and this salary increase should not impact your access.
The OPA celebrates this opportunity for overdue increases in postdoc salaries, recognizing they are still low in the realm of professional occupations. Nationally, this reinforces the intention for the postdoc role to be a time-limited position aimed at advanced mentored research training so you can get out sooner – rather than later – into the careers you want to have, and for which you will get paid better!
For more details:
- Postdoc-driven Future of Research has a great summary of issues and updates on their blog.
- Summary of federal rules
If you have questions about how this rule is being implemented, consult with your department or grants administrator, and if they have further questions please do refer them to either firstname.lastname@example.org, or Academic HR, or Office of Research, for clarifications. The OPA can also gladly share the powerpoint overview presented today at the Postdoc Monthly Conversation if you would like to present to your own department or research group.
Note: OPA hosted a Postdoc Affairs Monthly Seminar on October 20, 2016 on this topic and the presentation is available in PDF format.