The federal Department of Labor recently announced a 2016 update to the Wage and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that will impact compensation for postdoctoral researchers at UGA. The new rules require that all employees, including postdoctoral researchers, currently paid less than $47,476 be either declared non-exempt and paid hourly with overtime compensation OR be declared exempt and have their annual salaries raised to the new minimum of $47,476.
Declaring postdoctoral researchers to be exempt avoids hourly and overtime compensation. Given the status of postdoctoral researchers as trainees, UGA—along with other major R1 research institutions— has chosen to declare this category of employee to be exempt. Effective December 1, 2016 (the federal deadline), the annual salaries of all UGA Postdoctoral Research Associates and Postdoctoral Research and Teaching Associates must be raised to at least $47,476. The only allowable exceptions are postdoctoral scholars who have formal, authorized teaching responsibilities that occupy at least 50% of their time (this does not include informal mentoring of students), or who are part-time postdoctoral researchers.
The University recognizes the critical importance of postdocs to the research enterprise and supports fair wages for this category of researcher, while at the same time recognizing the short-term hardship on PIs presented by this new mandate. The Office of the Vice President for Research will do its best to help faculty weather this challenging transition. OVPR will partner with colleges to provide small amounts of funding for emergency situations. In addition, the Pre-Award Office in Sponsored Projects Administration will help PIs re-budget existing awards and submit timely requests to agencies for supplemental funds to existing awards when possible and appropriate (if in doubt, consult your grants officer). Obviously, Principal Investigators should include the new salary rate in all new grant or contract proposals.