blog postsPostdoctoral Research Associate FAQsShare on FacebookTweetEmailThe following FAQs are designed to answer questions regarding the new policy requiring that as of November 16, 2016, all Postdoctoral Research Associates at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are appointed at 100% FTE and have a salary at or above the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) minimum salary threshold of $47,476. Q: How quickly can units begin working on raising current Postdoctoral Research Associate salaries to the new thresholds?A: Salaries will be raised effective November 16, 2016. Units will receive instructions on how to process the increases. No salary increases will be implemented prior to November 16, 2016. Q: At what salary should new employees be hired for Postdoctoral Research Associate positions? A: Effective September 16, 2016, all new Postdoctoral Research Associates must be paid at least $47,476 annually. Q: What are other institutions of higher education doing to address this change in FLSA? A: Campus leadership has consulted with numerous peer institutions, and those that have made decisions all appear to be raising the minimum salary for Postdoctoral Research Associate appointments. Q: Why can’t the campus simply define the work of a Postdoctoral Research Associate to allow current salary levels below the threshold, and consider a significant fraction of Postdoctoral Research Associate activities to be part of their “training” or “professional development?” A: The FLSA regulations define what constitutes work for a Postdoctoral Research Associate and how such work might be exempted from overtime, and the authority is vested in the federal Department of Labor (DOL). There is no exemption for professional development or training. Q: Should units use the standard paperwork and process to raise Postdoctoral Research Associate salaries? Should the justification be that the raise is in response to the FLSA rule change? A: As the justification for the salary increase is to comply with the FLSA regulations, the standard process to request and justify a salary increase will not be required.Q: How can salaries be increased if they are supported by grants that do not have sufficient funds for the increase?A: The supervisor of the Postdoctoral Research Associate has primary responsibility for increasing the salary from either the grant currently supporting the person or from other funds (ICR or other discretionary funds). PI’s must work with their unit for assistance in identifying appropriate funding. Q. If I have adequate funding, is there a limit to the salary increases I can provide my Postdocs? A. For those whose salaries are currently below the new FLSA limit ($47,476) you must increase their salary to meet this new minimum. Given this is a federal requirement, not a result of a general salary program, you may not provide an increase beyond the minimum. Nor we will not be considering those individuals whose salary exceeds the salary threshold. Q: Salary increases may create earning disparities between Postdoctoral Research Associates and postdoctoral fellows. May units supplement a postdoctoral fellow’s income in response to this situation?A: The provisions of the fellowship will govern any flexibility in changing the fellowship award. It should also be noted that postdoctoral fellows are not considered employees per the FLSA and therefore, not subject to the new $47,476 threshold. Q: Can I simply call my Postdoctoral Research Associate a Fellow and not have to meet the salary requirement?A: No. Fellowship awards are granted for the development of the individual (investment in the person) and not fulfill the work of the University and are almost always externally funded. Post Doc Research Associates, especially those funded by a grant, are engaged to perform work for the University to fulfill the obligations of the project. The Office of Sponsored Programs reviews grants to determine if a fellowship is appropriate. Q: I can’t afford to pay my Postdoctoral Research Associate at the new minimum threshold of $47,476. Can I just convert them to a Visiting Scholar or an Academic Hourly? A: No. Q: The J-1 visa for international Postdoctoral Research Associates is based on integrating work and study for cultural and educational exchange. Because of the educational component, why can’t this category of employees be exempt from the FLSA?A: While students are provided for as an exemption under the FLSA regulations, Postdoctoral Research Associates are by definition no longer a student. Therefore, the student exemption under FLSA does not apply. Q: What should units budget for Postdoctoral Research Associate salaries in grant proposals moving forward?A: Grant proposal salaries for Postdoctoral Research Associates should be budgeted at least at $47,476 annually. If the proposal extends into 2020 or further, it should accommodate an automatic increase in January 2020 to at least the anticipated level of $51,168.Q: If units have a 50% Postdoctoral Research Associate, does this mean they have to raise that employee’s salary to 50% of $47,476?A: All Postdoctoral Research Associates need to be employed on a full-time, 100% FTE under the new policy. The full-time employment can be via a full-time, 100% Post Doc Research Associate appointment or via multiple appointments that total 100% and have a total annual salary of at least the $47,476 threshold. It is acceptable to have part-time Post Doc Research Associate appointments concurrently with other academic appointments such as Lecturer. Please note that a Fellowship appointment does not count towards the FTE fulfillment. Q: Some Postdoctoral Research Associates on campus are appointed 0% with no salary to provide them access to campus resources while they are paid from other sources (their home government, employer or HHMI funds, for instance). What happens with them?A: Zero percent appointments and fellowships are not subject to the FLSA changes.