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Post Doctoral
 

Frequently Asked Questions

by departments employing Postdoctoral Fellows


Is a search to fill a postdoc position required?
Can I hire a postdoc who has not yet earned his/her doctoral degree?
What if the candidate is close to finishing the doctoral degree?
What constitutes “proof of degree”?
What if the candidate has completed everything but has not received his/her diploma because
the graduation ceremony is some time away?
What if the postdoc position is 100% externally funded?
 
What University benefits do postdocs get?
How much do benefits for postdocs cost?
How are postdoc benefits paid for?
How is postdoc leave handled?
What if the new postdoc has leave accrued from a prior position that was leave eligible?
Are postdocs eligible for PERA?
 
 
What if the postdoc is not working out and needs to be let go?
What if there is significant reason to terminate a postdoc – “for cause”? 
What if the funding for a postdoc position is no longer available?
 
 
 
 
Is a search to fill a Postdoc position required?
No.   Selection is up to the department.  IF a search is conducted, the posting should be on jobsatcu, and proceed as any other normal search process.
 
Can I hire a Postdoc who has not yet earned his/her doctoral degree? 
            No.  POST-doc indicates just exactly that.  There are other employee classifications for those with lesser degrees.
 
What if the candidate is close to finishing the doctoral degree?
            The issue may be one of timing here.  “Close to” should mean the candidate is at or in the dissertation defense stage.  In consultation with the Postdoctoral Office, a provisional appointment may be approved with language added to the letter of offer indicating a short time period will be allowed for the proof of degree to be submitted.  Typically no more than two months should be allowed (some special circumstances for foreign institutional schedules may be worked out).  If the candidate is not at the dissertation completion stage, another job classification should be selected. 
 
What constitutes “proof of degree”?
            Three items show official verification of degree completion:
1)      Diploma
2)      Official transcript from institution including clear indication of degree earned
3)      Official letter from the graduate school conferring the degree, stating that all requirements have been met (this can happen several months before they walk across the stage at graduation).
 
What if the candidate has completed everything but has not received his/her diploma because graduation is some time away?
Get that letter from the Graduate School stating so.  (see #3 above under “What constitutes ‘proof of degree’?”)  This letter is a form letter every institution has.  It is not a letter from the dissertation committee nor the department. 
 
What if the Postdoc position is 100% externally funded?
Give the full amount of the support in the offer letter as the annual salary, then add a sentence such as this: “No University funds will be expended for your salary as 100% of the funding support will be provided from [fill in source].”
            Then enter the job data in HRMS with zero compensation and zero percent time.
 
What University benefits do Postdocs get?
Postdocs with a 50% or higher appointment are eligible for medical, life, disability, essentially all the benefits of any other employee class, everything but retirement and the tuition benefit given to employees for University courses.  See the benefits document. 
 
How much do benefits for Postdocs cost?
During 2009-2010, the going rate is figured at about 19-20%.  The 29% quoted by PBS includes approximately 10% for retirement.  It simply is included in their formula.  But Postdocs do not get retirement.
 
How are Postdoc benefits paid for?
In January 2008 the AMC campus administration provided benefits funding for postdocs paid from non-grant funds (covering FICA, Medicare, life and disability only).  Grant funds are charged according to salary outlay, as per normal payroll practices.
 
How is postdoc leave handled?
The UCD campus policy for Postdoctoral Fellows in job code 1438 allows for 16.0 hours of paid leave to be earned each month for a full time position, 8.0 for sick and 8.0 for annual leave.  Since the job code is considered a temporary position, no leave is recorded in the HRMS system.  The department is responsible for keeping track of earned and used leave.  Accrued leave is carried forward from year to year, but a cap accrual of 44 days combined is placed by campus policy.  No unused leave payout is processed when a postdoc leaves his/her appointment.  See policy section H.
 
What if the new postdoc has leave accrued from a prior position that was leave eligible?
Like other employee classifications, the vacation leave should be paid out at the termination of the leave-eligible appointment.  The sick leave may stay on the “books” until such time as the person returns to another leave-eligible appointment.  During the time of the postdoc appointment, leave is earned and used according to terms of the policy governing Postdoctoral Fellows/Trainees at the University’s Denver campuses.  At the termination of the postdoc appointment, unused leave is forfeit and without payout.
 
Are postdocs eligible for PERA?
Postdocs do not get retirement benefits.  However, if a person who became a postdoc was in a prior appointment that had PERA benefits applied, the PERA continues.  Hiring units need to take into account the former state employment circumstances of postdoctoral candidates. 
 
 
What if the postdoc is not working out and needs to be let go?
Postdocs are employees at will which means the appointment can be terminated at any time, however, the campus has a "best practices" process for terminating poorly performing employees.  (This is different than termination “for cause” for things such as illegal or violent behavior, see next question.)  This process should include evaluative meetings where information is provided and time is allowed for potential improvement in performance.  If that process is followed and recorded, and improvement is not evident, then a letter notifying the employee of termination will be sent to Human Resources for review, and then issued to the employee giving the HR approved number of days notice.   Prudence dictates to involve HR from the start to make sure proper procedure is followed.  A copy of the termination letter needs to be sent to the Postdoctoral Office to be put on file and so that exit procedures may be initiated.
 
What if there is significant reason to terminate a postdoc --“for cause”?
As with any employee, reasons to terminate “for cause” may result in an immediate dismissal.  The situation needs to be discussed with HR to make sure of following correct procedures.  The employing unit should immediately issue a letter of notification of termination, copies of which must be sent to HR and to the PDO. 
 
What if the funding for a postdoc position is no longer available?
If lack of funding is the reason for terminating the appointment, a letter notifying the employee is issued.  It must first be sent to Human Resources for review, then issued to the postdoc employee giving a required minimum of 30 days notice, but usually more.   A copy of the termination letter needs to be sent to the Postdoctoral Office to be put on file and so that exit procedures may be initiated.  Lack of funding is considered a "lay-off" and makes the employee eligible for unemployment benefits. ---  Another option is to discuss the situation with the postdoc and see if they are willing to reduce the percent time of their appointment, thereby reducing the dollars expended for monthly support.  An addendum letter (addendum to the letter of offer) is produced and processed the same as any change in appointment through the Postdoctoral Office.