FLSA Overtime Pay Rule revision and Postdoc salaries
Universities and other academic institutes in the US are on the verge of taking decisions that will most likely affect postdoc salaries. Here we want to inform you on the reasons and its consequences:
- Postdocs with salaries below $47,476 per year ($913 per week) will become eligible for overtime pay (i.e. 1.5x salary for every working hour exceeding 40 hours per week)! This is because Department of Labor (DoL) changed the salary threshold above which certain professional workers (including postdocs) may NOT be eligible for overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) from $23,660 to $47,476.
- This applies to all postdocs regardless of their job title, their salary/funding source (1), or their citizenship (including foreign postdocs on J-1 or H-1B visas), with only one exception (2).
- Revised FLSA regulation will be effective December 1, 2016.
- The salary threshold will be revised and adjusted every three years.
- Institutions have now two options: (1) Track working hours for each postdoc (the burden of proof on tracking hours lies on the institution, not on the postdoc) and pay overtime (i.e. 1.5x salary for every working hour exceeding 40 hours per week) (2) Raise postdoc salaries to at least $47,476 and keep them not eligible for (exempt from) overtime pay
- Your institute will have to choose one of those options, or already has. We expect that most institutes will choose option 2, raising annual postdoc salary to the minimum of $47,476 or higher, and keep them ineligible for (exempt from) overtime pay.
- In case of option 1: Postdocs who should receive overtime pay (i.e. salary below $47,476 and not primarily teaching) but do not receive it (or are asked to report 40 working hours while working over 40 hours per week) should immediately report this illegal violation of federal law to the U.S. Department of Labor (click here)!
- NIH is planning to increase the NRSA stipends to a level above this threshold with a minimum of $47,484 for PGY0 level postdocs (see projected NRSA FY2017 levels: click here). Hence, postdoc salaries at institutes that require NRSA stipend levels as minimum salary will be above the threshold of $47,476 (at least on the date they adopt the NRSA FY2017 levels, which is typically on July 1, 2017).
Much is still unclear about the effects of this ruling, e.g.: who will be paying for the salary raise (PI’s or institutes/ departments), how much will the raise be, and how salary scale based on experience years will be affected. We will keep you updated on general developments (www.bostonpostdocs.org). If you have further questions or concerns turn to your own institute’s Postdoc Association (PDA) or Postdoc Office. We would be grateful if you can update the BPDA (PanPDA.Boston@gmail.com) or your institute’s PDA about any decisions your institute has made.
See full document with many additional links and resources here.
- For foreign postdocs receiving a salary from a funding agency directly (and not through payroll of the US institution), this also applies (since the institution at which the work is being done is relevant, not the agency that pays for this work; hence, FLSA rules also apply) and institutions will need to find ways to track their salary and are responsible to ensure their compensation according to FLSA rules.
- Exception: Postdocs whose primary duty is teaching are exempt from the FLSA rule (“teaching exemption“) and are not entitled to overtime pay (no matter what salary they receive).