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Postdoc Contract FAQ

Postdoc Contract FAQ February 23, 2016 Additions

General Contract Questions

  1. There is a Postdoc performance review form on the UC website. Will divisions that currently do performance evaluations for Postdocs, using the PMP form, be required to use the performance review form on the UC website, or can they continue using the PMP form?
    Under the new contract, performance reviews are required. HR is developing a simplified form to be used for Postdoc performance reviews.

Postdoc Appointment Questions

  1. Nadine Fishel has mentioned at our meeting on November 15 that we can appoint less than 1 year as the initial appointment, however the contract says ‘’the initial appointment of a postdoctoral scholar at the University shall be for a minimum of one (1) year’’ and gives exceptional approval options for less than 2 years only for reappointments. Could you please confirm/clarify how to proceed?
    Contract page 3:
    1. The initial appointment of a Postdoctoral Scholar at the University shall be for a minimum of one (1) year.
    2. 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: 1) Less than two (2) years of programmatic work 2) Less than two (2) years of funding 3) Exhausted eligibility as a Postdoctoral Scholar as referenced in section A.3 4) Work authorization limitations 5) Change in PI
    3. Subsequent reappointment may be for less than one (1) year if the following circumstances occur: 1) Less than one (1) year of programmatic work 2) Less than one (1) year of funding 3) Exhausted eligibility as a Postdoctoral Scholar as referenced in Section A. 3. 4) Work authorization limitations

    If initial funding is only available for less than 1 year, we can request an exception to appoint for less than a year, but ELR must notify the union at least two weeks prior to the start date, to give the union time to respond and grant an exception to the contract. Be sure to contact ELR as soon as you are aware of this situation.
  2. In the case of loss of funding or lack of work, can a postdoc’s effort be reduced?
    A postdoc’s effort percentage cannot be reduced involuntarily. Requests from postdocs to voluntarily have their time reduced can be considered by the division.
  3. Are Lab postdocs working outside of CA represented under the union contract?
    No, postdocs working outside of CA are not represented by the UAW.
  4. Can Interim Postdoctoral Fellow appointments be used for Lab GSRAs who are going to be hired as postdocs “elsewhere” as well as by LBNL?
    Yes, Employee Interim Postdoctoral Fellow appointments can be used for Lab GSRAs during the time period between finishing doctoral degree requirements as a Laboratory Graduate Student Research Assistant (GSRA) and beginning postdoctoral work elsewhere (or at the Lab). Per the contract, there should be no break-in-service between the end of the GSRA appointment and the beginning of the Interim Postdoctoral Fellow appointment. Such interim appointments are made by a division director, based on the recommendation of the supervisor, and are not to exceed six months.
  5. In the case of a postdoc making a major research field change (ex: chemistry to computer science, etc.), do we determine the step level based on the new research field or total postdoc experience since the PhD?
    The step should be based on the total years of postdoctoral experience relevant to their current work.

Fellowship Questions

  1. What do we do if we have a postdoc receiving a fellowship which does not allow for additional remuneration?
    Per the union contract, we are not required to supplement or increase the pay ofany Postdoctoral Scholar appointed on a grant (e.g., Einstein Fellows, Hubble Fellows) that restricts that Postdoctoral Scholar's remuneration to only the pay received by the grant.

    Field HR should send the name of the postdoc, along with the name and amount of the fellowship to Soo LEe in Compensation and ELR.

Pay and Benefits Questions

  1. If an extension shorter than 1 year, will PTO and sick leave be prorated? If so, will that be calculated as 2 days/PTO/month and 1 day/sick leave/month. The contract language states 100% and 12-month appointment will get up to 24-days of PTO and 12 days of sick leave.
    PTO is not accrued. Therefore, even if the extension is for less than 1 year, the allotment of 24 days of PTO will not be prorated. Sick leave is currently accrued (at 1 day per month). Starting October 1, 2017, sick leave will not be accrued, and instead, the entire allotment of 12 days of sick leave will be assigned at the start of the appointment.
  2. Are Affiliate Postdocs - Paid Direct and Affiliate Postdocs-Stipend eligible for PTO and sick leave?
    Yes, Affiliate Postdocs - Direct Paid and Stipend Paid are eligible for PTO and sick leave, in addition to health and welfare benefits.

Hire Questions

  1. Would we ever disqualify a candidate for Postdoctoral Fellow due to previous experience at a level higher than Postdoctoral Fellow (i.e., specific title such as professor, research scientist, project scientist, etc.)?
    No, we evaluate a candidate's qualifications based on their skills/knowledge/abilities based on the position description.  Previous titles are not relevant.
  2. Do we calculate all the research related experience from the PhD conferral date, or just postdoctoral fellow experience to determine the step and 5-year max limit?
    Only years as a postdoctoral fellow are counted when determining the appropriate step and 5-year limit as a postdoctoral fellow.

Postdoc Contract FAQ November 10, 2016 Additions

General Contract Questions

  1. For Postdocs who have already accepted offers, but not yet started, will a new offer letter be issued?
    A supplemental communication will be sent to them by HR Shared Services, and will include the new pay rate (if applicable) and notification that the position is represented by UAW.
  2. How much are union dues and will they increase 10/1 with rate increases?
    Member dues are 1.44% of the gross pay. We do not know if they will increase in the future. Lab Postdocs will be charged union dues starting on 11/01/2017.
  3. How will postdoc career development be funded?
    The Lab is negotiating an agreement with the UCB Visiting Scholar & Postdoc Affairs (VSPA) to allow Lab postdocs to utilize VSPA programs and services, or opt for similar services at another UC campus. Lab postdocs will be reimbursed. Funds for reimbursement will come from Payroll Burden.
  4. What is the UAW contact information?
    UAW President: Anke Schennink
    Phone: 510-845-5726
    Email: uaw5810@uaw5810.org

Postdoc Appointment Questions

  1. If the one-year initial appointment and the two-year reappointment requirement have been satisfied, can a short-term extension be granted?
    With appropriate documentation, the Lab may agree to bridge the appointment for a short duration in order to allow time for the Postdoc to transition from the Postdoc appointment to another anticipated appointment, or training grant.
  2. How should we determine whether a postdoc belongs in Life/Physical Sciences or Computational Science scale?
    The determination should be based on the work performed and not on the PhD earned or Division in which the postdoc is situated.
  3. The contract says that postdoc appointments are limited to five years. Does this include postdoc experience at other institutions or only postdoc experience at the Lab?
    The five-year limit for postdoc appointments includes any postdoc experience, including at other institutions.

Pay Questions

  1. When will the step increases be processed?
    FY17 retroactive step increases back to October 1, 2016 are on track to be paid out in the 12/1/16 paychecks, along with vacation accrual payouts.

PTO and Leave Questions

  1. For Postdocs promoted to another employee classification (e.g. scientist) after Nov. 1st, what happens to their PTO and sick leave banks? What about the accrued vacation as of 10/31/16?
    Accrued vacation is planned for payout in the December 1, 2016 paycheck. Sick leave will transfer to new appointment, and any unused PTO is lost.
  2. If a Postdoc’s appointment is terminating after Nov 1st, but before the vacation accrual payout, will accrued vacation be paid at the time of termination?
    Yes.

Postdoc Contract FAQ as of October 27, 2016

General Contract Questions

  1. How long is the contract in effect?
    It is a 4-year contract -in effect until 2020. The contract will be renegotiated beyond 2020.
  2. Please clarify career development programs.
    These programs give our Postdocs access to the different training programs available at UC. The cost of these programs will be reimbursed to the Postdocs. We are working through the implementation details.
  3. Will we be required by contract to give Postdocs performance reviews?
    Yes, per the contract, performance reviews are required for postdocs.
  4. Is there anything in the contract regarding hours of work – what is a reasonable expectation of a work week?
    Postdocs are monthly paid (exempt) therefore there is no language in the contract regarding work hours. Berkeley Lab identifies a work week as 40 hours per week.

Postdoc Appointments

  1. Please explain the difference between stipend and direct pay affiliate Postdocs.
    Both the Affiliate Postdoctoral Fellow – Stipend and Affiliate Postdoctoral Fellow – Paid Direct classifications are for affiliates (non-Lab employees) who have been awarded or appointed to a fellowship or traineeship for postdoctoral study by an external agency.

    The Affiliate Postdoctoral Fellow – Stipend individuals receive their fellowship payment through Berkeley Lab Accounts Payable, whereas the Affiliate Postdoctoral Fellow – Paid Direct individuals receive their fellowship payments directly from the external agency.
  2. The contract states a minimum one-year initial appointment and a two-year reappointment. Can a Postdoc be reappointed for another year totaling 4 years? What about 5th year?
    The total duration of an individual’s postdoctoral service may not exceed five years, including postdoctoral service at other institutions. They can be reappointed to a 4th and 5th year, as long as the preceding criteria has been met. Under unusual circumstances the University may grant an exception to this limit, not to exceed a 6th year.
  3. How do we handle situations in which a division only has funding for one reappointment year and not the required two?
    The Division can appoint the Postdoc for one year with backup documentation that there is only funding for one year.
  4. Can initial appointment be for two-years with reappointment for one-year, instead of one-year with two-year reappointment?
    Yes.
  5. Will reappointments beyond 5 years still require CHRO approval?
    Yes.
  6. Is there a possibility for shortened appointments with an exception; or due to reaching the 5-year limit? If so, will the PTO be prorated according to the duration of the contract?
    Reappointment can be for less than one year, but the PTO is not prorated (continuing Postdocs get 24 days of PTO on October 1 of each year).

Pay Questions

  1. When will the increases for FY2017 be processed?
    The contract calls for these adjustments to be completed by February 1, 2017. Efforts are underway to collect salary increase data from divisions in order to pay these increases sooner. The current goal is to include in the December paychecks. However, this is subject to change
  2. When will we have guidance on Postdoc increases for this year?
    Compensation has provided an analysis of Postdoc salary increases using the contract guidelines to the HR Partners, who are now working with divisions to collect this data by 11/4. These spreadsheets show both the recommended adjustment per the contract, as well as data regarding the related impact to burden.
  3. Will Postdocs hired between 4/2/2016 and 10/1/2016 receive the 3.4% increase
    Yes, every Postdoc hired on or before 10/1/16 is eligible for the 3.4% minimum pay increase on 10/1/16, regardless of whether or not they advance a step. If a Postdoc was hired between October 1, 2015 and April 1, 2016, they are eligible for a step increase. If the Postdoc was hired between April 2 and October 1, they will not be eligible for a step increase, but will receive an adjustment to the new minimum for their current step or 3.4%, whichever is greater.
  4. Will Postdoc increases remain on step rates or be based on merit? If increases are based on step rate, will the effective date of these increases continue to be October first? If based on merit, please explain the evaluation/review process.
    Postdoc increases are based on steps, not merit. Step increases will continue to be effective on October first of each year. However, because the data used for setting the step minimums each year is usually not published until early in the calendar year, step increases will typically be retroactively applied to the 10/1 effective date. Although there is no formal merit process, Postdocs can request to participate in the PMP process. Note that the PMP process should not affect step increase amounts for Postdocs.
  5. Special Postdoc salaries are based on the fellowship agreement and are not set within current Postdoc step rates. How will their salaries be managed under the new contract?
    The Lab will have to make up the difference between the salary the Special Postdoc makes on the fellowship agreement and the appropriate step rate while adhering to the minimum increase percentage applicable to that year.
  6. How many step rates exist under the new contract?
    Two scales with 5 steps each. One for Life/Physical Sciences and another for Computational Sciences. They establish minimum salaries for each step (the divisions have the option to pay above the minimums).
  7. Since some divisions are already providing above scale salaries, will they be OK to use the new minimum salary schedule for new hires?
    Yes, newly hired Postdocs may be paid according to the new minimum step schedule.
    However, internal equity is an important consideration when setting pay. Hiring a Postdoc at minimum where all others are paid above the minimum could create internal equity issues.

PTO and Leaves

  1. Will Postdocs receive Holiday Pay in addition to their Personal Time Off?
    Yes. There is no change in the holiday schedule for Postdocs. PTO and Holiday pay are separate types of paid leaves.
  2. Will PTO/Sick Leave carry over year to year? If yes, what is the maximum accrual limit? If not, is it use it or lose it or is it paid out to the Postdoc?
    Unused PTO cannot be carried over year to year, so any unused PTO is lost if not used by September 30th of each year during the duration of this agreement. Sick Leave will be carried over each year.
  3. Is the PTO/Sick Leave anniversary date 9/1/2016, or is it a different date?
    A new PTO and Sick Leave accrual start on October 1st of each year for the duration of this agreement
  4. Is PTO/Sick Leave paid out when the Postdoc terminates?
    Any unused PTO and sick leave are not paid out upon termination.
  5. Is PTO/Sick Leave paid out if the Postdoc is promoted out of the union?
    If a Postdoc is promoted out of the union, any unused PTO is lost. Sick Leave will carry over.
  6. Can supervisors require Postdocs to take PTO?
    A supervisor may not require any employee to take PTO.
  7. Does a Postdoc need to get approval to use their PTO?
    Yes, PTO requires prior supervisory approval.
  8. How does parental leave work with PTO, sick leave and short term disability?
    Parental leave can be used within one year of a child’s birth or adoption. It may be used concurrently with PTO, sick leave or short term disability. Please contact Gayle Tornberg, Disability/Medical Leave Specialist, with specific questions.
  9. Where will funding come from to pay PTO, sick and parental leave?
    Just as with all paid leaves, PTO, sick leave and parental leave will need to be factored into the Payroll Burden for Postdoc appointments.
  10. We currently transfer sick leave for Postdocs when they transfer from another UC to the Lab, will we still be transferring sick leave?
    Yes.
  11. Since Postdocs will receive PTO starting Nov 1, 2016, how will vacation payouts occur?
    Vacation earned through the monthly vacation accrual process through October 31, 2016, will be paid out on or before Feb. 1, 2017.

Health & Welfare Benefits

  1. Who will be managing their health plans?
    Garnett-Powers will continue to manage Postdoc health benefits.
  2. Is the Lab required to offer health benefits if an affiliate Postdoc is covered by their home institution?
    The only Affiliate Postdocs that are eligible for health benefits are Postdocs - Paid Direct and Postdoc – Stipend. The Postdoc will need to pick between having benefits with the Lab or the home institution. Health benefits will go into effect Jan. 1, 2017, for this population.

Field Business Operations Logistics

  1. Will LETS records be updated to account for the new leave balances and usage allowance?
    Yes. Initially, post docs will see their PTO balances in the vacation category. We are in the process of modifying our system so that in the new calendar year, the balances will be represented in a PTO category.
  2. Will PTO/Sick Leave be managed in LETS? If yes, will parental leave be added to the earnings type pull down menu?
    Yes, PTO and Sick leave will be managed in LETS. Parental leave will initially be tracked manually by the Disability/Medical Leave Specialist, Gayle Tornberg, until we develop a process/system. The authorized leave earnings type will initially be used to track parental leave. An earnings type for parental leave will be added in 2017.
  3. Is there going to be a change in Payroll Burdens for Postdocs? If so, what is it (increase, decrease)?
    The FY17 Postdoc Payroll Burden rate will increase from 31.1% to 35.7%.
  4. Will the labor IUTs for Postdocs need to be increased?
    Adjusting IUTs to reflect salary increases is a regular part of the IUT management process.
  5. How should divisions account for the new PTO/sick leave accruals?
    PTO and sick leave available for use will be detailed in the LETS system, on the November timecard. The LETS system will also record usage of PTO and sick. Initially, Postdocs will see their PTO balances in the vacation category. We are in the process of modifying our system so that in the new calendar year, the balances will be represented in a PTO category.

    Because PTO and sick are paid through payroll burden, no additional accounting at the division level is necessary.

    Divisions should consider PTO and other forms of paid time not worked (e.g. parental leave) when planning for productive time.

Hires

  1. Will the process to hire Postdocs without a job posting (hire only) remain in place?
    Yes. However we encourage that open recruitments be conducted for all Postdoc positions in order to promote equal opportunity for all candidates.
  2. Should current open Postdoc positions be changed to reflect that the position is represented by a collective bargaining unit?
    Yes, we will post similar language to what we use for all represented employees.
  3. What do we do with those who accepted an offer prior to ratification and start at a future date?
    We will provide them with a supplemental communication on their start date or before.

If you have additional questions regarding the Postdoc contract, please email your questions to: PXContractQuestions@lbl.gov

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