Friday, June 3, 2016

How New US Overtime Provisions Will Affect Postdoctoral Researchers

National Institutes of Health
Office of Extramural Research
Mike Lauer
May 18, 2016

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the law that contains overtime pay provisions for employees across the United States, entitling all US workers to overtime pay unless they are exempted because they are paid on fixed, preset salaries; are engaged in executive, administrative, or professional duties; and are paid at least $23,660 per year. Today, a historic change to this act has occurred – under the new rule, the overtime pay threshold will be increased to $47,476, effective December 1, 2016.

Understandably, many members of the community have reached out to us with questions about how this rule will affect post-doctoral researchers, who are critical players in the biomedical research enterprise. During the FLSA revision public comment period, many universities and professional organizations provided feedback to the Department of Labor. Likewise, NIH communicated with the Department of Labor to echo the importance of supporting and acknowledging the significant contributions of postdoctoral researchers to NIH-supported research. In recent years we made increases to NRSA stipends as a result of analysis and recommendations stemming from the Advisory Committee to the Director biomedical workforce working group. Stakeholders ranging from academic faculty to scientific professional societies have recommended further increases post-doctoral compensation, and early-career researchers have likewise been vocal about the types of challenges postdocs face in the current research ecosystem. We acknowledge that more is needed to support the scientific leaders of tomorrow.