A recent change to overtime regulations proposed by President Obama is open for consultation until September 4th, and this regulation will directly affect postdocs. You can read more about the background in this blogpost, but it has the potential to mandate increases in annual postdoc salaries to $50,440. Stanford has raised its minimum annual salary for postdocs to $50k per year taking effect October 1st, and this is in line with recent recommendations as summarized in a report authored by ASBMB in PNAS.

A group of US postdocs has organized getting messages from postdocs across to the Department of Labor, details are posted below. Please MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD, whatever your opinion on the matter, to inform this debate.


Dear Fellow postdocs, scientists and all supporters,

There is a new federal regulation proposed by the Obama administration that would mandate that employees in the US making less than $50,440 per year be paid for overtime work. Whether the Department of Labor will apply this regulation to postdoctoral researchers is still unclear and a matter of debate. If it does, the regulation would result in postdocs being paid for overtime work OR in an increase of the minimum postdoc salary to $50,440.

This regulation will greatly benefit the postdoc community. However, in order to ensure the regulation, we need YOUR help. Here’s how you can help us NOW. It will take you just a few minutes from your own computer:

1. Sign the petition letter to the Department of Labor written by representatives of US postdoctoral associations. This letter will also provide you with detailed information about the regulation.

a) Visit the website and read the petition letter to the Department of Labor

– Click on the “LETTER” button in the top menu.

b) Sign the petition letter by following this link

c) Alternatively, you can sign the petition by sending us an email to uspostdocs@gmail.com with the header “I sign the letter for postdoc overtime pay”, and your name and current professional position/affiliation in the message body.


2. Help us spread the word and become viral!

a) Send this message by email or other means to all US postdocs that you know, as well as everyone in your contacts that could support us too.

b) Visit the Facebook page, like it and share it through your Facebook!

c) Send the website link to everyone you know: http://uspostdocs.wix.com/overtimepay


3. Write a comment on the Department of Labor website dedicated to the general public. Here are the steps:

a) Go to the website.

b) Click on the “Comment Now!” blue button on the upper right.

c) Write your comment and fill out your personal details

Comments will be accepted from the general public until September 4th before a final decision is made as to whether or not to implement this proposed regulation. Ideally, your comment should state the following:

         Your status as a US postdoctoral researcher or another science or non-science employee.

        Your position in favor of the Department of Labor regulation regarding overtime pay

         Your position supporting the need to include postdoctoral researchers in the regulation.

          Optional: Reasons why the regulation is appropriate, particularly for postdocs.


 Below, find a sample comment written and edited by postdoc representatives that you can use as inspiration for your own comment if you wish:


As a postdoctoral researcher, I fully support the proposed regulation for overtime pay to employees earning below $50,440, and I request that this regulation apply to all postdoctoral researchers and other employees in science and academia just like it will apply to every other US employee.

Postdoctoral researchers produce a large percentage of the total biomedical science output in the US. These scientific discoveries are critical for the advancement of knowledge and medicine that improve the health conditions and well-being of citizens in the US and around the world.

Despite the unanimous agreement about the importance of scientists’ work, our salaries are much lower (on average about half or less) than those of workers in industry requiring a comparable level of education (PhD level and above). In addition, the nature of scientific work requires many postdoctoral researchers to work overtime. However, we receive no compensation for this extra work.

Due to the above working conditions, many postdoctoral researchers are discouraged from continuing with their scientific careers, and are leaving science to take alternative career paths. This includes even the most talented researchers, who would be in a position to make the best contributions to science. Over time this has reduced the quality of biomedical research in the US and now jeopardizes the long-held position and reputation of the US as the world’s leader of scientific advancement. We can help to avoid this decline by improving working conditions and salaries of postdocs. This regulation represents a step towards such goal.


US Postdocs United for Overtime Pay Regulation