Postdoctoral Scholars — Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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Appointment

1. Are searches required for Postdoctoral Scholar appointments?
All initial Postdoctoral Scholar Employee appointments are subject to regular search/recruitment requirements. Department may submit a written request for search waiver to the Vice Provost for Academic Personnel, if the Postdoctoral Scholar appointments are as a result of:

  1. Change of duty station, i.e., faculty moving his/her research laboratory and personnel to UCI from non-UCI location; or
  2. Postdoctoral Scholar bringing his/her own full funding.
2. Can I hire an individual without a PhD in a Postdoctoral Scholar position?
No.  To be eligible for a Postdoctoral Scholar position the prospective individual must hold a PhD, M.D., or foreign equivalent.  Proof or verification of this must be shown prior to being hired.
3. How many years total can an individual be appointed in a Postdoctoral Scholar title at UC?

The total duration of an individual’s postdoctoral service may not exceed five years, including postdoctoral service at other institutions.  Thus, if a Postdoctoral Scholar has already served elsewhere as a Postdoctoral Scholar for four years, s/he may only be hired for one year.

Under very limited circumstances and subject to written request to and approval by the Vice Provost for Academic Personnel, a department may request an exception to appoint a Postdoctoral Scholar for a sixth year appointment. Please see Waiver Guidelines under Non-Senate Faculty & Other Academics.

 

4. Does this labor contract require a specific length of time for a Postdoctoral Scholar’s appointment?

Yes. Postdoctoral Scholar appointments are temporary and have fixed end dates. The University may appoint or reappoint Postdoctoral Scholars for longer time periods than required by the contract.

Postdoctoral Scholar – Employee (Title code 3252)

The initial appointment of a Postdoctoral Scholar at the University shall be for a minimum of one year.

The first reappointment of a Postdoctoral Scholar from any title into the title Postdoctoral Scholar – Employee shall be for a minimum of two (2) years; however, reappointment may be for less than two years under the following circumstances:

  • Less than two (2) years of programmatic work
  • Less than two (2) years of funding
  • Exhausted eligibility as a Postdoctoral Scholar as referenced in section A.3
  • Work authorization limitations
  • Change in PI

Subsequent reappointment may be for less than one (1) year if the following circumstances occur:

  • Less than one (1) year of programmatic work
  • Less than one (1) year of funding
  • Exhausted ability as a Postdoctoral Scholar as referenced in Section A.3
  • Work authorization limitations

Postdoctoral Scholar – Fellow (Title code 3253) and Postdoctoral Scholar – Paid Direct (Title code 3254)

Appointments and reappointments into the title(s) Postdoctoral Scholar – Fellow and/or Postdoctoral Scholars – Paid Direct shall be for a minimum duration equal to the duration of the fellowship or extramural funding.

The University may supplement Postdoctoral Scholar – Fellows and Postdoctoral Scholar – Paid Directs. If the University provides a supplement to meet the experience scale minimum or to provide an additional supplement above the minimum, the appointment shall be treated in accordance with the provisions above.

Interim Postdoctoral Scholar – Employee (Title code 3256)

When the University appoints a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Interim Postdoctoral Scholar – Employee title, the appointment shall be for less than one (1) year. The 3256 title code is restricted to recent graduates who earned a UCI doctoral degree. Should an Interim Postdoctoral Scholar – Employee (TC 3256) be appointed as a Postdoctoral Scholar – Employee (TC 3252) at the conclusion of the interim appointment, the hire date shall remain the original date of appointment into the interim title.

5. Can Postdoctoral Scholars be appointed at less than 100% time?

Yes, but only in very limited circumstances.  The exception to a 100% appointment would be allowed (provide that it is permissible by extramural funding agencies) if requested by the Postdoctoral Scholar for reasons of health, family responsibilities, or employment external to the University.  In addition, if a Postdoctoral Scholar is assigned temporary teaching duties, s/he would have a dual appointment as a lecturer and postdoctoral scholar.  The dual appointment cannot exceed 100% and the lecturer portion should be for a limited duration.

All exceptions involving Postdoctoral Scholar Appointments at less than 100% must be requested in writing and approved by Vice Provost for Academic Personnel and documented in a written agreement between the PI and Postdoctoral Scholar specifying the reduction in hours of work and concomitant responsibilities.

6. Is the University required to provide the Postdoctoral Scholar with an appointment letter?

Yes.  Postdoctoral Scholars should have received their appointment letters prior to the commencement of their appointments.  Appointment letters must be provided to the Postdoctoral Scholars no later than seven calendar days following the start of the appointment; and at least 30 calendar days prior to the start of reappointment.

A template appointment letter (UCI-AP-PX1), which contains information the University is required to provide to Postdoctoral Scholar, can be accessed at the Academic Personnel website. Please note: pages 2 and 3 must be provided to the Postdoctoral Scholar to satisfy this requirement per the collective bargaining agreement.

Salary and Funding

7. What are the salary requirements for Postdoctoral Scholars?

All Postdoctoral Scholars will be paid at least the minimum salary based on their experience per UC salary scale. If appointed at a salary higher than experience level, the postdoc receives a 2% increase on each anniversary date upon reappointment.

8. May a PI change the Postdoctoral Scholar's anniversary date?

Yes, if the PI gives a salary increase equal to the next highest step on the salary scale. If changing a postdoctoral scholar’s anniversary date, contact AP regarding sick and PTO time.

9. Can I provide a merit increase for my Postdoctoral Scholar in addition to the required salary increase negotiated in this Agreement?

Yes.   The negotiated increases are the minimums that the University must provide to Postdoctoral Scholars within the time period(s) required by the Agreement.  Merit increases are separate from the negotiated salary increase or the step increases based on the appropriate experience salary rate of a Postdoctoral Scholar.  Merit increases can be provided to Postdoctoral Scholars based on documented meritorious performance, subject to the approval of the Dean in each school.

If a Postdoctoral Scholar receives a mid-year merit increase, s/he will also be eligible for the negotiated salary increase upon reappointment or on his/her appointment anniversary date (if on multiple-year appointment).

10. My Postdoctoral Scholar’s salary is supported by an extramural agency. Who will be responsible for funding the annual salary increase?
If a Postdoctoral Scholar is sponsored by an extramural agency either the extramural agency must fund yearly increases or the PI must fund them.
11. Why do we have different title codes for Postdoctoral Scholars Paid-Direct and Postdoctoral Scholars Fellow?
The Postdoctoral Scholars-Paid Direct title code is used for Postdoctoral Scholars who are paid directly by an extramural agency and are not paid through the UC Payroll System.  The Postdoctoral Scholars-Fellow title code is used for Postdoctoral Scholars whose appointments are funded by training fellowships and grants and are paid through the UC Payroll System.
12. My Postdoctoral Scholar received a prestigious fellowship mid-year during his/her first-year appointment. The fellowship provides a two-year salary funding that includes a requirement for the University to supplement the Postdoctoral Scholar’s salary by a set amount that results in the Postdoctoral Scholar’s salary being above the base salary at his/her appropriate experience level. Once this fellowship funding expires, am I required to continue this salary supplement?
No.  The continuation or discontinuation of any salary supplement in excess of the Postdoctoral Scholar’s base salary/stipend rate is at the sole discretion of the University, subject to the terms of the specific sponsoring agency requirements.
13. If the grant funding from which I am supporting my Postdoctoral Scholar’s appointment runs out of money, what process do I need to follow to end my Postdoctoral Scholar’s appointment before the appointment end date stated in the Postdoctoral Scholar’s appointment letter?
Layoffs may be implemented when appropriate funding supporting Postdoctoral Scholar appointments is no longer available.  There is an existing campus review process for proposed layoffs.  Please contact the Academic Personnel Office for additional information.

Benefits and Leaves

14. Are Postdoctoral Scholars eligible for benefits and who pays for their benefits?
Yes.  Postdoctoral Scholars are eligible to participate in the Postdoctoral Scholar Benefit Plans which include medical, dental, life, AD&D, short term disability, and voluntary long term disability.  Postdoctoral Scholars are responsible for monthly co-premium.   Postdoctoral Scholar Employees are also required to participate in the University’s Defined Contribution Plan (DCP) as Safe Harbor participants and all Postdoctoral Scholars may make voluntary contributions to any of the University’s Retirement Saving Program plans.  Please refer to Article 3 – Benefits in the collective bargaining agreement for Postdoctoral Scholars for details. 
15. Are Postdoctoral Scholars eligible for any University retirement plans?

Yes.  Postdoctoral Scholars in the employee (TC 3252) who receive regular salary payments are considered Safe Harbor participants and are required to contribute 7.5% of their gross salary to the UC Defined Contribution Plan (DCP).  Postdoctoral Scholars are normally not eligible for the UCRP retirement plan*.  Postdoctoral Scholars are also required to pay Medicare taxes.  The P.I. pays Workers Compensation Assessment and the Benefits Broker Fee.

*Note:  Postdoctoral Scholars who are appointed from a previous UCRP eligible position should completely break service with the University before assuming the Postdoctoral Scholar appointment, and should sign a statement acknowledging that they understand they are forfeiting continued participation in the UCRP.  If this break in service and signed statement do not occur, the Postdoctoral Scholar will continue to be eligible for UCRP and the University will be responsible for the University contribution. 

16. Are there any specific workload limits, such as number of hours per week that a Postdoctoral Scholar can work?
No.  Postdoctoral Scholars remain FLSA exempt with a normal full-time work week of at least 40 hours, with the emphasis placed on meeting the responsibilities assigned to the position. 
17. How much vacation does a Postdoctoral Scholar have during a one-year appointment?
Postdoctoral Scholars are eligible for twenty-four (24) days of paid personal time off.  These days can be used as soon as a Postdoctoral Scholar’s appointment commences.  These paid time off days are subject to the “use it or lose it” rule within the Postdoctoral Scholar’s 12-month appointment year – these time off days do not carry-over upon reappointment nor is the University required to pay Postdoctoral Scholars for any unused time off at the end of their appointments.  Time worked and time off is accounted for in terms of “days” rather than hours.  Use of personal time off must be requested in advance, preferably in writing, with the approval of the supervisor.  Postdoctoral Scholars, Supervisors and/or the departments are responsible for tracking the use of personal time off by Postdoctoral Scholars.
18. Does a Postdoctoral Scholar have any sick leave?

Yes.  Postdoctoral Scholars are eligible for 12 days of paid sick leave per year.  These sick days can be used upon the Postdoctoral Scholar’s appointment and must be used in increments of a day.  Use of sick leave must be requested in advance or as soon as practicable (for unforeseen illness) with the approval of the supervisor.  Postdoctoral Scholars, Supervisors and/or the departments are responsible for tracking the use of sick time by Postdoctoral Scholars.

Note:  Unused sick leave is carried over year to year and may be transferred to eligible titles within UC, and/or be reinstated within 15 days of separation.  In addition, as the paid personal time off and sick leave days may be used by Postdoctoral Scholars during an approved leave of absence, it is extremely important for Postdoctoral Scholars, Supervisors, and the departments to document personal time off and sick leave usages.  Personal time off and sick leave should be requested and approved (or documented in the case of unplanned sick leave) in writing.

19. Do Postdoctoral Scholars get any University-paid holidays?
Yes.  Postdoctoral Scholars observe all holidays that the University recognizes for other employees.  When operational needs require a Postdoctoral Scholar to work on a University designated holiday, the supervisor may schedule the Postdoctoral Scholar to work on University holidays but the Postdoctoral Scholar shall receive an alternate day off for each holiday worked.
20. Is a Postdoctoral Scholar eligible for paid Jury Duty leave?
Yes.  Postdoctoral Scholars are eligible for paid jury duty.  A copy of the summons to serve on jury duty prior to the date(s) on which such service is expected and verification of service is required. 
21. Can a Postdoctoral Scholars request a day off to observe a religious holiday?
Yes.  Postdoctoral Scholars may use their personal time off or work alternate days to observe the religious holidays.  The supervisor shall not unreasonably deny such requests.
22. Are Postdoctoral Scholars eligible for a leave of absence, such as a Family Medical Leave?
Yes.  Article 12 outlines different types of leaves of absence which Postdoctoral Scholars may request. 
23. How many days can a Postdoctoral Scholar be off work due to a death in the family?
Postdoctoral Scholars are entitled to take up to five (5) work days of sick leave or personal time off due to the death of a family member.  If sick leave or personal time off is not available the Postdoctoral Scholar shall be on unpaid leave.  Bereavement leave of more than five days may not be unreasonably denied. 
24. Are there any forms a Postdoctoral Scholar needs to fill out to request a leave of absence?
Yes.  All leave request exceeding seven (7) calendar days must be submitted in writing by completing a UCI-AP-76.  Other forms may be required subject to the requirement of other applicable University policies and/or federal and state statutes, such as FML related forms.

Performance

25. How often is a Postdoctoral Scholar’s performance evaluated?
PIs are considered supervisors to their Postdoctoral Scholars and retain the right to assess and manage Postdoctoral Scholars’ research progress and accomplishment.  In this Agreement, supervisors are required to provide Postdoctoral Scholars at least one written performance assessment in a 12-month period.  To meet this contractual requirement, a supervisor has the option of completing the standard Performance Assessment Form (UCI-AP-PX3).   Otherwise, the written performance assessment may be in the form of a letter. 
26. What is the process I need to follow if a Postdoctoral Scholar is not performing up to stated expectations in his/her research efforts?
The Agreement provides a stated process for supervisors to address a Postdoctoral Scholar’s performance problems and/or misconduct.  Contact Academic Personnel to discuss the appropriate steps and process to take corrective action. 

Health and Safety

27. What do I do if my Postdoctoral Scholar refuses to perform a work assignment because s/he believes it is hazardous or s/he has not been properly trained?
The Postdoctoral Scholar is required to immediately inform her/his supervisor if the components of the assignment that s/he believes to be hazardous or dangerous.  In attempting to resolve the Postdoctoral Scholar’s concerns, the supervisor may provide necessary training/instruction, protective equipment or hazard abatement, or may make workplace task performance/and or task assignment changes to remediate the Postdoctoral Scholar’s concerns.  At any time after the supervisor has been informed of the hazardous assignment, the supervisor and/or the Postdoctoral Scholar may contact the University EH&S professional for participation in task evaluation.   Supervisors must document safety training and information provided to Postdoctoral Scholars. 

Collective Bargaining Agreement/UAW

28. What is the role of UAW, the Union which represents Postdoctoral Scholars, in terms of Postdoctoral Scholar appointments?
Postdoctoral Scholars are represented by the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW). The Agreement is a four-year contract effective October 17, 2016, and will expire at 11:59 p.m. September 30, 2020.  The Postdoctoral Scholars’ contract contains the terms and conditions negotiated and agreed to by the parties; and the University must abide by the terms of the Agreement in making employment decisions concerning Postdoctoral Scholars.  For example, if a Postdoctoral Scholar is willing to work less than one year during his/her initial appointment year or for reduced pay, the University is unable to accommodate such a request given the specific appointment length and minimum salary requirements in this Agreement.
29. How does the collective bargaining agreement impact the mentoring relationship with my Postdoctoral Scholar?
The mentoring relationship between a PI and a Postdoctoral Scholar is protected as an academic matter, thus not specifically governed by the labor contract.  As the Mentor, a PI retains the right to direct a Postdoctoral Scholar’s progress and accomplishment in research and professional development.  However, note that under this Agreement, Postdoctoral Scholars may voluntarily elect to develop an Individual Development Plan (IDP) which they may discuss with their supervisor.  The supervisor is required to discuss this with the Postdoctoral Scholar if he/she decides to create an IDP

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