The Overtime Rule & You

What is The Overtime Rule?clock-1516967_1280
In a nutshell, it’s an updated version of the overtime regulations outlined under the Fair Labor Standards Act. For eligible employees, the overtime rule mandates that if your salary is below $47,476, when you work over 40 hours/week, your employer is required to pay you 1.5 times your hourly rate. For example, if you make $10/hour normally, you would be paid $15/hour for every hour over 40. You can contact your human resources department to determine if you are an eligible employee. You can also get more information on who to contact with questions about interpretation and enforcement of the rule. This new law will take effect starting on December 1, 2016.

This video pretty much sums it up (complete with a cute cartoon of Obama!):


 In order to be compliant, employers can choose to do 1 of 4 things :

  1. Pay time-and-a-half for overtime work
  2. Raise salaries above $47,476
  3. Limit employees to 40hr/week
  4. Combination of 1-3

So what does this mean for postdoctoral fellows?

The NIH has increased postdoctoral NRSA stipends above the $47,476 threshold. This means that if you receive NRSA support, your salary should go up. If your institution does not use NRSA-based funds to employ postdocs, they may choose other ways to follow the new overtime rule. For clarification on your institutions plan, contact your office for postdoctoral affairs or human resources.

If you are employed with NRSA-based funds or if your institution adheres to the NIH-recommended stipend levels, your new salaries are listed below:

Projected Postdoctoral Stipend levels for FY2017

Career Level Years of Experience Actual Stipend for FY 2016 Projected Stipend for FY 2017 Monthly Stipend
Postdoctoral 0 $43,692 $47,484 $3,957
1 $45,444 $47,844 $3,987
2 $47,268 $48,216 $4,018
3 $49,152 $50,316 $4,193
4 $51,120 $52,140 $4,345
5 $53,160 $54,228 $4,519
6 $55,296 $56,400 $4,700
7 or More $57,504 $58,560 $4,880

It is also important to note that the overtime rule does not require overtime pay for work on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, or regular days of rest.

In my humble opinion, I think all institutions should opt for raising the postdoc stipend above the minimum threshold of $47,476. I know the funding climate is tough, but postdocs consistently work over 40 hours and some work most weekends as well. As a PI, if you demand 24/7 productivity from your postdocs, you should be willing to pay for it.

As a postdoc, arm yourself with this information. Do not be afraid to demand what is legally yours and read my other blog posts on how to secure your financial independence. This way, if this new overtime rule eventually leads to postdoctoral fellowships being cut down to 3 years or if your institution is unwilling to adhere to it, you are in a more secure position to find alternative career options.

Have an opinion? Please comment below. Thanks for reading.