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POSTDOCTORAL SCHOLARS STANDARDS & GUIDELINES 2016-2017


INTRODUCTION

The postdoctoral experience emphasizes scholarship and continued research training for individuals who have recently completed a doctoral degree. Postdoctoral scholars are essential to the research and scholarly mission of the University of South Florida System and enrich the USF community with their knowledge and expertise. The university strives to enhance the postdoctoral experience by providing a stimulating and constructive environment, and encouraging mutual respect and understanding.

HANDBOOK PARAMETERS

These standards and guidelines define and set forth terms and conditions relating to employment of postdoctoral scholars in the USF System. It applies to both postdoctoral scholars who are considered employees of the USF System and postdoctoral scholars who are paid stipends by extramural agencies, either directly or through the USF Division of Sponsored Research. The University reserves the right to modify this document at its discretion with or without notice.

The Postdoctoral Scholars Standards and Guidelines handbook is comprised of eight main sections:

  1. Expectations and Responsibilities
  2. Postdoctoral Definition, Appointments and Offer Letters
  3. Salary and Stipends
  4. Annual Reviews and Individual Development Plans
  5. Corrective Action, Termination, and Resignation Policies (new for 2015)
  6. International Postdoctoral Scholars
  7. Statement of Support for Grant Proposals (new for 2015)
  8. Frequently Asked Questions

The policies and guidelines stated within are to be followed by USF Tampa and the regional campuses, including USF Health, unless otherwise stated. The regional campuses and USF Health have separate budgets for tuition and stipends; however, they must follow the overall graduate assistant policies and guidelines set forth by the Office of Graduate Studies. This handbook will evolve over time as USF's graduate education changes. The handbook is designed to be in place for the academic year of 2015-2016; however, modifications may be made in the interim. If such changes are made all parties will be appropriately notified. I believe this handbook provides the information you will need as you appoint graduate assistants or handle graduate assistant employment issues.

1. Expectations and Responsibilities

1.1. Expectations and responsibilities of postdoctoral scholars

  • The conscientious discharge of research or scholarship responsibilities, which may include teaching responsibilities for postdoctoral scholars.
  • Conformance to standards of responsible, ethical conduct in research, including taking all current required training.
  • Compliance with all relevant federal, state and municipal regulations and guidelines that relate to human subjects research, the care and use of laboratory animals, and the use of hazardous materials.
  • Compliance with good scholarly and research practice.
  • Open and timely discussion with the faculty mentor regarding all facets of the postdoctoral appointee's research activities.
  • Accurate and timely recording and documentation of research results.
  • Prompt disclosure to the mentor regarding the possession and desire to distribute materials, reagents, software, copyrightable and potentially patentable discoveries derived from the postdoctoral scholar's research.
  • Collegial conduct towards members of the research group.
  • Compliance with all applicable policies and procedures of the University and the department/responsible unit.
  • Maintenance of a laboratory notebook (if applicable) and/or other comparable records of research activity, which remain the property of USF upon termination.
  • Adherence to university standards regarding use of isotopes, chemicals, infectious agents, animals, human subjects, and the like (if applicable).

1.2. Expectations and responsibilities of faculty mentors

  • Guide and monitor the advanced training of postdoctoral scholars.
  • Provide clear goals, objectives, and expectations of the training program and the responsibilities of postdoctoral scholars at the time of hire and update as needed.
  • Communicate regularly with postdoctoral scholars in order to provide regular and timely assessments of their performance, as well as providing career advice and job placement assistance.
  • Write an annual evaluation of performance and progress of the postdoctoral scholar's activities in a manner that is clear and timely.
  • Provide an appropriate educational experience that helps to advance the career of the postdoctoral appointee.
  • Provide mentoring with an emphasis on development of independence including providing detailed advice and assistance on the development of a specific research project.
2. Postdoctoral Definition, Appointments and Offer Letters

2.1. Definition of a USF Postdoctoral Appointee

An individual, who is employed by USF or has research affiliation with the university, and has received a PhD degree or equivalent (e.g., Sc.D., M.D.) and is engaged in a defined period of mentored research and/or advanced training to enhance the professional skills and research independence needed to pursue his or her chosen career path.

Note: No postdoctoral scholar should be appointed for less than one year. The initial appointment should range from 12-24 months.

2.2. Appointments and Job Codes (new for 2015)

Research Postdoctoral Scholar (job code 9180) This is the most common category of postdoctoral appointee. An individual who has received a doctoral degree (or equivalent) and is engaged in scholarly research, usually under the supervision of a faculty mentor, in preparation for a full-time academic and/or research career. After five years, a postdoc either must separate from the university or be appointed to a non-postdoctoral position.

Postdoctoral Associate (job code 9189) Similar to 9180, this is an individual holding a doctorate or equivalent and engaged in scholarly research activities consistent with the mission of the university. This position might be used by departments to designate postdocs that have a mix of teaching and research or may indicate a step up from the 9180 job code. Postdoctoral Associates should not be reappointed after seven years.

Clinical Postdoctoral Scholar (job code 9194) An individual who has received a doctoral degree (or equivalent) and has come to the University to gain additional clinical training after completing his or her residency. This classification may also apply to individuals who hold a Doctorate of Medicine and are enrolled in programs at affiliated hospitals and institutes for the purpose of obtaining additional clinical training before embarking on independent careers as physicians. Clinical postdoctoral scholars may not be reappointed after three years.

Instructional Postdoctoral Scholar (job code 9195) An individual who has received a doctoral degree (or equivalent) and is engaged in a defined period of mentored instructional assignments to enhance the professional skills needed to pursue his or her chosen career path. This training includes all relevant scholarly activities related to the preparation for a career in teaching. Appointments may not extend beyond three years.

2.3. Non-traditional Postdoctoral Appointments (line or OPS positions) (new as of 2015)

Postdoctoral appointments at USF are a hybrid system of individuals who hold temporary and grant-funded line positions at the university. The postdoctoral job code is a relatively recent development at USF and there are some departments at USF that use still line positions as postdoctoral appointments for legacy reasons or others detailed below.

There are a few reasons for using line positions for postdoctoral appointees. The first reason would be benefits have historically been greater for the line positions as the health care plan is perceived as better than the postdoctoral plan which is the same health insurance graduate assistants receive at the university. The retirement benefits for line positions are more robust than for temporary employees and so many departments will use line positions as a way to attract postdoctoral appointees. This limitation on retirement benefits is a feature of the state of Florida regulations pertaining to public employees. The reason for using line positions in many departments is that the market for postdocs in certain fields is very competitive. This is especially the case in practitioner fields where salaries for postdoctoral appointees are higher such as public health or engineering.

Another reason to use line positions is that it gives the postdoc an opportunity to write and hold grants as principal investigator. USF Sponsored Research policy disallows postdocs from obtaining grants other than postdoc-designated grants. This policy is long-standing and has mainly to do with the financial responsibility for the award if the postdoc leaves the university.

Finally, colleges such as Public Health and Behavioral and Community Sciences often use line positions such as Research Associate or Research Assistant Professor as a step program into a tenure track position. This allows the greater benefits outlined above as well as salary increases. In most cases, these positions still satisfy the requirement of mentored research as outlined by NIH and NSF and these steps are completed within 5-7 years.

2.4. Job Codes and Salary Plans

The USF System utilizes two distinct methods to differentiate postdoctoral appointments - job codes and salary plans. The job codes are listed in the previous section.

The other classification distinction for these positions is the Salary Plan, which indicates the funding source from which the postdoctoral scholar is paid. The plan 08 indicates state funds (E&G or Auxiliary accounts), research grants, fellowships, or training grants. The salary plan of 96 indicates the individual is not paid through the USF Payroll system, and is therefore not considered to be an employee and not eligible for benefits. This would apply to postdocs who are paid directly from external funds, such as those being sponsored by a country or corporation. The following job code and salary plan combinations are to be used according to the postdoctoral scholar's job duties and funding source:

  1. 9180-08 (Postdoctoral Scholar - Research) - those funded through E&G, auxiliary, and research grants. These individuals are considered USF employees.
  2. 9194-08 (Postdoctoral Scholar - Clinical) - those receiving a fellowship or are paid through a training grant. These individuals are considered USF employees.
  3. 9195-08 (Postdoctoral Scholar - Instructional) - those funded through E&G, auxiliary, and research grants. These individuals are considered USF employees.
  4. 9189-08 (Postdoctoral Associate) - those funded through E&G, auxiliary, and research grants. These individuals are considered USF employees.
  5. 9180-96 (Postdoctoral Scholar - Research) - those not paid through USF payroll and therefore are not considered to be USF employees and not eligible for USF benefits.

NOTE: Postdoctoral scholars may not be "self-funded." The salary must come from USF or from clearly documented external sources, not from the postdoctoral scholar's personal funds or savings.

2.5. Appointment Criteria

Appointment as a postdoctoral scholar requires a doctoral-level degree or the foreign equivalent. Candidates with non-US degrees will be required to provide proof of degree equivalency. A candidate may be offered a postdoctoral position if the candidate has completed all of the requirements for a degree before the degree has been formally conferred. Official transcripts must be obtained by the hiring department and provided to Human Resources. The candidate must also provide up-to-date curriculum vitae and list of publications, and must arrange for letters of recommendation to be sent to the prospective faculty supervisor.

2.6. Appointment Percentage

Appointments to the postdoctoral scholar title are expected to be full-time (40 hours per week), based on the expectation that the postdoctoral scholar will be fully involved in scholarly pursuits. In special cases, an exception may be granted when the appointee is unable to make a full-time commitment for reasons of health, family responsibilities, or employment external to the USF System. Such a request must take into account extramural funding agency requirements, if any. When a reduced-time appointment has been approved by the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, the mentor and postdoctoral scholar shall sign a written agreement specifying the reduction in hours of work and concomitant responsibilities. NOTE: Benefits are based on an employee's percentage of full-time employment (FTE). A change in FTE will result in a change to employee's benefits.

When a postdoctoral scholar holds more than one University appointment or position, the percent time of the postdoctoral scholar appointment normally will be reduced so that the sum of the percent times of the two appointments equals 100%. No department may hire a postdoctoral scholar for less than 1.0 FTE without documentation of the other appointment, including salary information and length of appointment. This documentation must be provided to the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs before the appointment is made and the appointment is subject to review by the Dean of the Office of Graduate Studies and the Provost.

2.7. Offer Letters

All new postdoctoral appointments are to be made in writing by a letter from the Department Chair or the appropriate Dean/designee. The departments/responsible units should use the standard postdoctoral appointment letter templates (which include the new criminal background check requirements), which are available from the Human Resources website http://usfweb2.usf.edu/human-resources/azindex/forms.asp Generally, the appointment letter should be sent out two to three months prior to the start date of the appointment.

The offer letter should include:

  • Offer of a Postdoctoral Scholar-Research (9180), Postdoctoral Associate (9189) Postdoctoral Scholar-Clinical (9194), or Postdoctoral Scholar-Instructional (9195) position,
  • Salary Plan of 08 or 96,
  • Appointment schedule and number of hours per week,
  • The duties and responsibilities of the postdoctoral scholar,
  • Supervisor name and contact information,
  • A statement of teaching responsibilities, if any, associated with the appointment,
  • The period of the appointment, with start and end dates. (In almost all cases, this should be 12 months).
  • The salary/stipend level, both annually and biweekly (if applicable),
  • Statement of eligibility for health insurance and other benefits (if applicable),
  • (International candidates) Notification of visa and employment documentation requirements. If the postdoctoral scholar will require a visa to enter the US, the department will need to complete a USF J-1 Scholar Request Form at least 2-3 months prior to the expected start date. The form is located at http://global.usf.edu/is/sch-forms.php,
  • The web address of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs is (http://www.grad.usf.edu/opa_index.php). All information relevant to postdocs can be found here.
  • Request for proof of doctoral degree (i.e. official university transcripts or diploma copy). Official transcripts showing the doctorate granted must be obtained by the hiring department and provided to Human Resources.
  • Request for candidate's signature and return of letter by given date.

The postdoctoral appointee must acknowledge the terms of the appointment by signing the letter of appointment and returning it to the address indicated in the letter within 10 days of the date on the letter.

2.8 Degree Verification for Postdocs

Appointment Criteria

Appointment as a postdoctoral scholar requires a doctoral-level degree or the foreign equivalent. Candidates with non-US degrees will be required to provide proof of degree equivalency. A candidate may be offered a postdoctoral position if the candidate has completed all of the requirements for a degree before the degree has been formally conferred. The candidate must also provide up-to-date curriculum vitae and list of publications, and must arrange for letters of recommendation to be sent to the prospective faculty supervisor.

Verification of degree is required and may be achieved using one of the following mechanisms:

  1. Official transcripts that state the degree conferral date may be obtained by the hiring department and provided to Human Resources.

    OR

  2. A signed letter (on letterhead) from the appropriate official (e.g., Associate Dean, Registrar) at the candidate's PhD degree conferring institution stating that the candidate has completed all requirements for the PhD and the date at which the degree will be conferred. The letter should be sent to the hiring department and provided to Human Resources. Official transcripts stating conferral of the PhD must be provided to the hiring department within three months of the start date with a copy provided to Human Resources.

Should the degree verification not be supplied within the allotted timeframe, post-hire, then the postdoctoral appointee would be subject to immediate dismissal.

3. Salary and Stipends

3.1. Scale - The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, in conjunction with the USF Provost's Office, shall establish each year a minimum annual compensation level for all postdoctoral scholars. The minimum annual salary shall be the minimum used at USF. For 2016-17, the minimum salary is set at $47,659. Generally, the postdoctoral scholar's stipend will be paid through the USF Payroll Department. Postdocs may not be paid on an hourly basis.

3.2. Criteria - Departments are responsible for establishing the criteria for determining the salaries of individual postdoctoral scholars if more than the University established minimum is desired. Such criteria may include, but are not limited to, the individual's qualifications, number of years of experience, performance as a postdoctoral scholar, funding availability in the discipline, and competitive salaries and stipends paid by other universities. When a stipend or salary is established for a postdoctoral scholar, equity among all postdoctoral scholars within the unit shall be taken into consideration.

3.3. Provision of Minimum Pay Level - When extramural agencies establish stipends at a rate less than the University established salary and stipend scale minimum, and the University elects to proceed with such an appointment, the department is required to provide additional funding to bring the pay level of the postdoctoral scholar up to the University established minimum. The mentor is required to arrange the additional funding prior to the start date of the appointment.

3.4. Annual Salary Increases - The mentor may determine additional stipend increases for postdoctoral scholars each year, contingent upon the terms of the funding agency. Annual stipend increases will not automatically be based on yearly performance evaluations; however, mentors will be expected to provide a written performance evaluation on a yearly basis as part of their mentoring duties. Salary and stipend increases are to be recommended and approved in accordance with USF Human Resources procedures.

4. Annual Reviews and Individual Development Plans

4.1. As part of an ongoing performance management system supporting the success of the University’s employees, it is expected that postdoctoral scholars undergo a review of their performance on an annual basis. A written evaluation should be prepared and delivered to each postdoctoral scholar by the responsible administrator or supervisor. Criteria for such reviews will vary according to the nature of the position and the unit in which it is located. Goals and objectives, as well as the criteria for annual reviews, should be communicated to the postdoctoral employee at the time of initial hire and at the start of each succeeding year. Training and professional development workshops attended must be documented within the annual review. Sample Annual Review forms are available from the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, http://www.grad.usf.edu/opa_index.php

The responsible administrator should seek whatever evaluations are necessary to complete a fair and thorough review. Evaluations might be sought from colleagues and from others with whom the postdoctoral scholar interacts.

It is also strongly advised that faculty mentors have their postdoctoral scholars complete an Individual Development Plan (IDP) that can be used to outline goals, gauge progress, and can be useful for annual reviews. Sample IDP forms are available from the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, http://www.grad.usf.edu/opa_index.php.

5. Corrective Action, Termination, and Resignation Policies (new for 2015)

5.1. The University may impose corrective action or dismissal when the postdoctoral scholar’s performance or conduct merits the action. Corrective action could be in the form of a verbal reprimand, written reprimand, suspension, or termination.

5.2. Notice of termination: If a postdoctoral appointment is terminated by the faculty mentor prior to the end of the appointment, the postdoctoral scholar should be notified in writing at least two weeks in advance.  If the postdoc is on a temporary visa, postdocs must be given at least 30 days’ notice. The exception is for appointees who are terminated due to poor performance and/or terminated under adverse circumstances.  In all adverse/performance cases, the Office for Postdoctoral Affairs should be notified as soon as possible.

5.3. Notice of resignation: If a postdoctoral scholar resigns prior to the end of the appointment, he or she should provide a written two-week notice. Postdoctoral appointees must leave all research and instructional materials with the faculty supervisor to ensure continuation of the project or teaching assignment and compliance with relevant University and sponsor policies. However, at the discretion of the College/Department, access to these data and materials may be provided to the appointee.

5.4. Diversity and EEO
The University of South Florida System endeavors to make academic excellence inclusive by sustaining a community of free inquiry in which men and women of diverse race, ethnicity, veteran status, marital status, socio-economic level, national origin, religious belief, physical ability, sexual orientation, age, class, political ideology and lifestyle participate in, contribute to, and benefit equally, from the academic community. A diverse campus environment, in which differences are respected and appreciated, promotes more effective teaching and learning. Consequently, the University is committed to maintaining a diverse student body at the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as perpetuating initiatives that enhance the diversity of the campus climate, curriculum, student body, faculty, postdoctoral scholars, staff, and administration.

5.5. Grievance Policy
The University of South Florida System encourages open communication between employees and management to address concerns. Therefore, the University is committed to resolving employee concerns through informal resolution whenever possible. However, if this should prove to be impossible, postdoctoral scholars, as non-permanent employees, can file grievances under University Rule 6C4-10.213 and Policy 0-007. Postdoctoral scholars may only file a grievance for non-disciplinary matters if they believe they have been directly affected by an act or omission of the University in applying any Rules. They may not grieve any action beyond the informal resolution process. A grievance must be filed in writing using the designated USF Grievance Form, which must be signed and dated by the grievant and submitted to the Division of Human Resources within 30 days after the date he/she becomes aware of the incident, act, or omission that is the basis for the grievance. By filing a grievance, the grievant agrees to participate in a mandatory 30-day informal resolution process, to be conducted in accordance with University guidelines, beginning with the date the grievance is filed in Human Resources. Complete information concerning the grievance process can be found at http://usfweb2.usf.edu/human-resources/employee-relations.

6. International Postdoctoral Scholars

6.1. The International Services Office (IS) at USF is the main administrative and immigration advising office for international students, research associates, and postdoctoral scholars from over 130 countries. The mission of International Services is to promote awareness, understanding and compliance of federal immigration regulations and university policies while supporting and enhancing the academic, cultural, and social experiences of all international students, postdoctoral scholars, and staff at the University of South Florida.

The International Services Office strives to:

  • Advise international students, postdoctoral scholars, and staff regarding immigration compliance, visa status maintenance, and acculturation issues.
  • Offer workshops on employment, career planning, cultural adjustment, and other topics.
  • Develop, plan, conduct, and implement orientation programs for new students and scholars.
  • Collaborate with other USF departments to increase the level of understanding regarding immigration issues and the role of International Services.
  • Promote cross cultural understanding by working with USF departments and other on-campus organizations to plan events and inform students and scholars about upcoming activities, via listserv, email, and the International Services website.

USF recommends the use of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program for postdoctoral scholars who will require a Visa to enter the US or remain in the United States. Departmental exceptions to this recommendation should be directed to the Director of International Services office at http://global.usf.edu/is/ or 813-974-5102.

International postdoctoral scholars on the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program are considered to be “Research Scholars” which is defined as: An individual primarily conducting research, observing, or consulting in connection with a research project at USF from 3 weeks to 5 years in duration. The J-1 cannot be used for a USF tenure track position. 

The hiring department must complete the Scholar Request form located at http://global.usf.edu/is/sch-forms.php for USF to produce the visa documentation needed to enter the US. Departments should request period of stay on this form for the same period covered in the scholar’s letter of appointment, offer letter, or letter of support. Request forms should be submitted at least three months prior to the individual’s anticipated start date at USF to ensure that the exchange visitor will have adequate time to apply for the visa and arrange travel. The spouse and dependent children (unmarried and under 21 years of age) may apply for J-2 dependent visas to accompany the J-1 scholar.

The department should arrange for office space, access to office equipment (i.e., computer, phone, etc), and a USF email address as deemed appropriate to the proposed activity. Since there is currently no USF housing for exchange visitors, the International Services office refers all requests for accommodation to USF’s Off-Campus Housing Office. Their website at includes a searchable listing of short term and long term accommodations http://www.myidealplace.com/accounts/usftmp/  The hiring department agrees to assist the International Services office with the collection of immigration documentation and proof of health insurance as required by law and to contact International Services prior to completion of employment.

International postdoctoral scholars should contact the International Services office for questions concerning their status, immigration compliance, visa status maintenance, acculturation issues, documents, etc. For more information, please refer to global.usf.edu/is/.

Please Note: Postdoctoral scholar positions are time-limited positions and thus, do not meet the petition requirements for US permanent residency based on employment. International postdoctoral scholars should contact the International Services office for questions concerning their status, immigration compliance, visa status maintenance, acculturation issues, documents, etc. For more information, please refer to global.usf.edu/is/.

6.2. Health Insurance Requirement
All USF postdoctoral scholars (international and domestic) and their eligible family members are able to participate in the USF postdoctoral scholar health insurance program beginning on their date of hire. US immigration regulations require J scholars and their dependents to carry specific health insurance during their period of stay in the US. The USF postdoctoral scholar health insurance program satisfies all US immigration requirements for health insurance.  As of October 2014, United HealthCare provides the medical insurance. USF contributes 80% of the premium for the employee and 50% of the premiums for the spouse or domestic partner and dependent children.  For questions regarding medical insurance coverage, how the plan works, how to file a claim, etc., contact the USF Human Resources Office at 813-974-2970. Premiums are based on an employee’s percentage of full-time employment (FTE). A change in FTE will result in a change to employee’s premium amount. Employee contributions are paid via payroll deduction.

As of January 1st, 2014 Postdoctoral Scholars may be eligible to participate in the State of Florida plan covered by BlueCross/BlueShield.  If they are eligible, they will receive notification from PeopleFirst.  The costs, both for the individual and the university, are the same as they are for permanent staff and faculty.  Up-to-date rates are available through Human Resources or on the Sponsored Research Fact Sheet: http://www.research.usf.edu/dsr/fact-sheet.asp  

7. Statement of Support for Grant Proposals (new for 2015)

7.1. The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) is a USF System office that supplements the role of the departments and schools in implementing policies and procedures related to the appointment, roles, requirements, and responsibilities of all postdoctoral scholars. The office strives to foster a robust postdoctoral community, provide opportunities to enhance the postdoctoral experience and future success for its constituents, serve as a dedicated resource for postdoctoral scholars, faculty and administrators, and promote the university’s dynamic program of postdoctoral opportunities while supporting postdoctoral scholars throughout their time at USF.

The objectives of the OPA that impact USF’s postdoctoral scholars include: providing administrative support and guidance to USF colleges and postdoctoral scholars throughout the recruitment and hiring process; building collaboration among postdoctoral scholars, colleges, other USF departments, and graduate students; and offering professional development workshops for postdoctoral scholars and their mentors.  The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs offers workshops on topics such as: Negotiating Faculty Positions, Alternatives to Faculty Positions, Demystifying the Publication Process, Oral and PowerPoint Presentation Skills, Finding Funding for Your Research and others. 

8. Frequently Asked Questions

Questions Related to Appointment as a Postdoctoral Scholar

Are postdoctoral positions considered faculty appointments?

    • Postdoctoral scholars are not classified as faculty. This handbook outlines differences between postdoctoral scholars and other employees, but in the absence of a stated difference, temporary employees’ policies and procedures apply.

Can a postdoctoral scholar be hired for less than one year?

  • No. The initial appointment for a postdoctoral scholar must be at least 12 months (one academic year) in order to allow for benefits eligibility. Reappointments should be in 12 month increments. 

What is the correct protocol for hiring a postdoctoral scholar?

  • Departments should go through normal HR channels for hiring postdoctoral positions. The PeopleSoft online employment system ought to be used. Each school or department should follow their existing procedure. However, minimum annual salary, length of appointment, and full-time status requirements must be met.

Questions Related to International Postdocs

If I am interested in applying for a postdoctoral position at USF, but I am not a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident, would I need to be sponsored to obtain permanent residency?

    • US regulations that govern employment based petitions for permanent residency require that the position be a “permanent” position.  Since postdoctoral positions are not permanent, they would not qualify for permanent residency sponsorship. Therefore the university recommends the J-1 Research Scholar category, which allows 5 years of participation and the TN NAFTA visa, which is typically issued for 3 years with no maximum on renewals. For more information visit the USF International Affairs webpage at http://global.usf.edu/.

We wish to hire a postdoc and he/she needs a certified translation for their documents. Are there any services available through the university?

    • No. However, the University of South Florida considers evaluation reports from any member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). Please click here for a list of recommended vendors. (This information is provided only as a possible source.)

Do international postdoctoral scholars holding a J-1 Visa have to file taxes?

 

Questions Related to Postdoctoral Benefits

Are postdoctoral scholars eligible for benefits?
Postdoctoral scholars are eligible for specific benefits as outlined on the HR website - http://usfweb2.usf.edu/human-resources/audience/postdoc.asp. Only postdoctoral scholars Job Codes of 9180, 9189, 9194, and 9195 with a Job Code of 08 (paid through the USF Payroll system) are eligible for these benefits.

Are postdoctoral scholars eligible to use the Employee Assistance Program services?

    • Yes. When the postdoctoral scholar, a family member, or partner need help dealing with a situation that’s troubling them, they can call 800-327-8705 seven days a week, 24 hours a day, to speak with a trained, caring professional - or they can log into www.MagellanHealth.com/member  for a wealth of work/life resources. Services available include qualified child and elder care referrals, adoption information and resources, legal consultation, financial services consultation, family and relationship issues, work/life balance, stress management, health and wellness, grief and loss, depression and anxiety, alcohol or drug concerns, and dealing with conflict or violence.  These services are free of charge to all postdoctoral scholars and their spouses, domestic partners, dependents, and others in their household.

Are postdoctoral scholars eligible for the USF retirement plan?

  • Postdoctoral scholars participate in USF’s qualified retirement plan for temporary employees (TERP) not covered by the State Retirement System. Employees are immediately vested; all investments are controlled by the participant and are completely portable when they leave the university.

Can international postdoctoral scholars contribute to a retirement plan? What happens when they leave the university?

    • Yes, international postdoctoral scholars are eligible to participate in the Temporary Employee Retirement Plan (TERP). Participants in this plan do not contribute to the Social Security Administration, nor is the amount contributed by the employee matched by the university. Instead, employees contribute 7.5% of their wages into an investment account in their name. Withdrawals from the plan may be made at the termination of employment, but note that there is a 10% IRS penalty that will apply if you are younger than 55 years old. For additional information on TERP please visit http://usfweb2.usf.edu/human-resources/benefits/terp.asp. It is strongly encouraged that international postdocs maintain a US bank account if they wish to recoup their TERP funds in a timely fashion. 

 

Questions Related to Postdoctoral Leave

Is the monthly accrual of Paid Time Off (PTO) days for postdoctoral scholars tracked on a calendar basis (January-December year, like discretionary days), or by appointment date? 

  • Postdoctoral scholars receive sixteen (16) days of PTO per calendar year, with the first year prorated based on hire date. PTO may be used for vacation, sick or personal time off at the discretion of the employee with supervisor approval. PTO may be used in four (4) and eight (8) hour increments only. PTO is not carried over from year to year. Any unused PTO at the end of the calendar year is forfeited. Unused PTO time will not be paid out at the time of separation from employment.

What happens if a postdoctoral scholar uses all of his/her PTO leave and requests more?

  • If PTO has been exhausted, postdoctoral scholars may request to take time without pay. If approved, a pay exception form must be processed for that month.

What happens if a postdoctoral scholar has PTO leave remaining at the end of the calendar year or at the end of their employment with the USF System?

  • PTO is not carried over from year to year. Any unused PTO at the end of the calendar year is forfeited. Unused PTO time will not be paid out at the time of separation from employment.

 

Questions Related to Time Tracking and Hours Worked

Are postdoctoral appointments and yearly renewals tracked by appointment date, or does the appointment term begin on August 7th, similar to faculty?

  • Postdoctoral appointments should be tracked by the appointment date, as with regular staff appointments.

May a postdoctoral appointee work part-time?

  • No. Appointments to the postdoctoral scholar title are full time (40 hours per week), based on the expectation that the postdoctoral scholar will be fully involved in scholarly pursuits. In special cases, upon written request of the appointee and concurrence of the mentor, the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, may grant an exception when the appointee is unable to make a full-time commitment for reasons of health, family responsibilities, or employment external to the USF System. Such a request must take into account extramural funding agency requirements, if any. When a reduced-time appointment has been approved, the mentor and postdoctoral scholar shall sign a written agreement specifying the reduction in hours of work and concomitant responsibilities. NOTE: Benefits are based on an employee’s percentage of full-time employment (FTE). A change in FTE will result in a change to employee’s benefits.

How many hours worked per week meets the definition of a full-time postdoctoral scholar?

  • Postdoctoral scholars must work an average minimum of 40 hours a week. Note that 40 hours is the minimum. Postdoctoral scholars are classified as exempt employees, and therefore are not subject to overtime pay. More than 40 hours a week may be required to complete assigned tasks.

May postdoctoral scholars work from home?

  • Flexible work options may be allowed at the discretion of the PI and/or the Department Chair. Flexible work options must be requested and documented in accordance with USF Human Resources regulations.

 

Questions Related to Reappointment Letters and Evaluations

Must I do reappointment letters for postdoctoral scholars in my department?

    • Yes. Written terms of appointment (offer letters) must be renewed at the end of each appointment period and submitted to Human Resources.

Do PIs and postdoctoral scholars have to participate in yearly evaluations?

  • Yes. As part of an ongoing performance management system supporting the success of the University’s employees, it is expected that postdoctoral scholars undergo a review of their performance on an annual basis. A written evaluation should be prepared and delivered to each postdoctoral scholar by the responsible administrator. Copies should also be sent to HR.  Criteria for such reviews will vary according to the nature of the position and the unit in which it is located. Criteria should be communicated to the postdoctoral employee at the time of initial hire and at the start of each succeeding year. Training and professional development workshops attended must be documented within the annual review. Sample Annual Review forms are available from the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs at www.grad.usf.edu/postdoc.

Can postdoctoral scholars file grievances?

  • Postdoctoral scholars may only file a grievance for non-disciplinary matters if they believe they have been directly affected by an act or omission of the University in applying any Rules. They may not grieve any action beyond the informal resolution process. Complete information concerning the grievance process can be found at http://usfweb2.usf.edu/human-resources/employee-relations.

 

Questions Related to Grants and Funding

Can a postdoctoral scholar be listed as the Principal Investigator on a proposal?

  • USF Postdoctoral Scholars are not eligible to serve as the Principal Investigator (PI) on a sponsored funded research project. However, they are eligible to serve as a Co-PI on a research project.  The exception is if the award specifies that only a postdoc may serve as a PI, such as on a postdoctoral research grant. Please contact Sponsored Research at http://www.research.usf.edu/sr/ for more details.

Last updated: 9/2015