Postdoc Salaries: New salary threshold for overtime proposed for Fair Labor Standards Act

Postdoc Salaries: New salary threshold for overtime proposed for Fair Labor Standards Act

The data above is from our paper “Monitoring the compliance of the academic enterprise with the Fair Labor Standards Act” showing how institutions were expecting to change salaries after the last FLSA update was blocked.   The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes standards such as minimum wage and overtime pay for employees in both the public and private sectors in the United States. Through the FLSA a minimum wage and overtime pay (for working more than 40 hours per week) at 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate are guaranteed (United States Department of Labor, 2016a). On December 1, 2016, the FLSA was due to be updated by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). One key change proposed was an increase in the annual salary threshold for exemption from overtime pay from the 2004 level of $23,660 to $47,476. The other key change was indexing the salary level so that it would be updated automatically every 3 years pegged to the 40th percentile of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage Census region. On December 1st, 2016, the threshold at which salaried workers receive overtime payment for working more than 40 hours per week was due to increase from $23,660 to $47,476 per year, under updates to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This was delayed by an injunction granted November 22nd (see here for more information) and was declared invalid as of August 31st by the same court. The Department of Labor has now proposed a new set of updates to formally retract and replace the 2016 proposal. The proposals: would likely come into effect January 1st 2020 would raise the threshold for overtime exemption from...
NIH to discuss Next Generation of Researchers, and Sexual Harassment, today (Dec 13th)

NIH to discuss Next Generation of Researchers, and Sexual Harassment, today (Dec 13th)

Today in the Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) meeting at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the NIH will report out the results from the Next Generation Researchers Initiative Working Group (mandated by Congress, responding to the National Academies recommendations in the “Breaking Through” Report). This will happen at 2 pm Eastern. The NIH will also discuss their plans regarding sexual harassment, responding to another National Academies report from 3.45 pm to 4.45 pm Eastern. The agenda is here, and you can watch live here. They will also be archived. FoR ED Gary McDowell will live-tweet the session on the Next Generation Researchers Initiative on Twitter from @FORsymp (follow #NGRI), and the sessions addressing sexual harassment from @MeTooSTEM (follow #MeTooSTEM). Both will also use the hashtag #NIHACD....
New publication: Assessing the landscape of postdoc salaries in 2016

New publication: Assessing the landscape of postdoc salaries in 2016

A plot of the National Institutes of Health’s National Research Service Awards Year 0 stipend by Financial Year. Also includes a comparison of salaries with their approximate value in 2017, using the Personal Consumer Expenditure Index.   In 2016, the very earliest days of Future of Research’s existence as a nonprofit were dominated by the announcement of updates to the Fair Labor Standards Act, and in particular how that would effectively raise postdoc salaries to $47,476 on December 1st 2016.   The birth – and death – of this update to the Fair Labor Standards Act, and how it was being implemented at institutions, occupied much of our attention, and is summarized in our publication Monitoring the compliance of the academic enterprise with the Fair Labor Standards Act. But even though the update was ultimately not implemented, the academic research system largely went ahead with changes to institutional policies to raise recommended postdoc salaries.   We were however aware of the issue that institutions vary significantly in their ability to count, and presumably, identify postdocs. This led us to ask a number of questions:   If institutions are unable to count their postdocs, and presumably are not overseeing them, do all postdocs receive the salaries set out in an institution’s policy? How strong is the relationship between the National Institutes of Health National Research Service Award stipends (which affect only 15% of graduate students and postdocs funded by NIH, which is not the only funder of postdocs) and what postdocs are getting paid? Are there any factors affecting salary, such as location, gender, or job title?   We therefore began...
Heartfelt thanks to Dr. Adriana Bankston for work to ensure FoR’s success

Heartfelt thanks to Dr. Adriana Bankston for work to ensure FoR’s success

Future of Research is extremely grateful to Dr. Adriana Bankston, who today will complete a 6-month temporary contract as our Associate Director for Fundraising and Strategic Initiatives.   Dr. Bankston has been involved with Future of Research for some time, firstly on a volunteer basis, collecting data to monitor the compliance of institutions with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which was published in F1000Research in 2016 and updated in 2017 following the injunction. She was elected to the Future of Research Board of Directors in July 2017, where she continued working on the postdoc salary project, leading to the publication of a preprint on Assessing the Landscape of U.S. Postdoctoral Salaries together with members of the data collection workstream. In addition, Adriana collaborated on an effort led by Dr. Christopher Pickett, Director of Rescuing Biomedical Research, on a publication assessing the ability of the GSS to predict postdoc population trends. Adriana has given numerous talks and workshops related to both the postdoc salary project and other projects for Future of Research, with the goal of promoting and developing future directions for the organization. To this end, she was a member of the organizing committee for the 2017 Future of Research meeting on Expanding Leadership Roles for Early Career Researchers, which will be developed in the future.   While Adriana finishes her current term of employment with us today, she will continue to be involved on our team of volunteers. We are grateful for the great work Adriana has done in setting us up for fundraising and strategic planning. Adriana  has so far brought us over $1,500 in small...
Future of Research endorses call for Science magazine to retract, and apologize for, “Harassment Charges: Injustice Done?”

Future of Research endorses call for Science magazine to retract, and apologize for, “Harassment Charges: Injustice Done?”

On August 17th, 2018, Science magazine published the letter “Harassment Charges: Injustice Done?” in which colleagues wrote in to defend Francisco Ayala, an academic formerly at UC Irvine who resigned after findings of sexual harassment at that institution.   The letter decries the negative effects on Ayala of the consequences of the investigation, and implies that the reputation of a scientist should somehow excuse scientific misconduct such as sexual harassment. In publishing the letter, which does not provide evidence to substantiate its claims, Science legitimizes attempts to discredit victims of sexual harassment, blaming them for the consequences of their accusations and findings made against harassers. Emboldened by the platform that publication of the letter in Science has given them, we hear that Ayala’s colleagues are now contacting local newspapers attempting to discredit his accusers.   A letter to Science has been drafted by representatives of the #MeTooSTEM movement, calling for retraction of the letter, and an apology to Alaya’s accusers.  There is a petition urging support for this letter, which we endorse, and you can sign here. The text of the letter follows below.   Science has issued a statement that it will not publish letters of this nature again. However it has neither retracted, nor apologized for, the original letter. We add to the call from #MeTooSTEM, and the calls of other organizations such as 500 Women Scientists to urge Science to retract the letter, and to apologize to Ayala’s victims for its publication. You can join us in signing the petition here.   Text of the letter: “The letter “Harassment charges: Injustice done?” by Moya et al. (8/17/18) defends Francisco Ayala, recasting him...
Sexual harassment policies at NSF and NIH

Sexual harassment policies at NSF and NIH

Policies surrounding sexual harassment in science and federal grant funding have been heavily discussed and been the subject of updates in the last few days. We have attempted to summarize updates below, and may clarify with updates (which will be noted below). NIH creates sexual harassment website On Monday National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Dr. Francis Collins issued a statement discussing how NIH is addressing sexual harassment. No policy changes were announced, a website with sexual harassment information was launched, and the notice spoke of “new initiatives” for the intramural program to be released in the Federal Register today, which appear to consist of a new Manual Chapter and policy piece on personal relationships. National Science Foundation increases oversight At the same time, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced a new term and condition of award, following a process of proposing rule changes and soliciting public comments (to which Future of Research submitted comments in May 2018). The new term and condition of award requires institutions to notify NSF when a funded investigator is placed under administrative action at an institution. Further details are summarized in their press release and fact sheet. NIH responds to NSF changes Following the announcement by NSF, NIH issued a statement acknowledging NSF’s new terms, but stating that: “Legal constraints that apply differently to NSF and NIH currently prevent NIH from immediate implementation of an identical policy.  A rulemaking process would be needed to determine if NIH can require the same responses from our awardee organizations.” The process in question appears to be due to differences in the Code of Federal Regulations....