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Research Funding

Hike in overtime pay may help some university employees

by Andrea Widener
March 16, 2019 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 97, ISSUE 11

 

The US Department of Labor has proposed vastly increasing the number of employees who are eligible for overtime, a move that could boost the salaries of some university staff and postdoctoral fellows. Currently, employees who make less than $23,660 a year must be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week. The proposed rule would increase the eligible salary to $35,308, the first increase since 2004. The Barack Obama administration had proposed an even greater increase in 2016, to $47,476, but it was struck down by the courts. That rule had been accompanied by explicit guidelines that exempted many staff in higher education, but postdocs and other nonteaching staff were eligible for the increase. At the time, many postdocs made less than $47,000. The National Institutes of Health subsequently raised stipends for its supported postdocs above that level, and it kept the salary there after the court challenge. Some universities take the NIH’s lead on postdoc salaries. The National Postdoctoral Association recommends salaries start at $50,000.

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