RESEARCH ONLY Postdoctoral Associates

If you anticipate hiring a postdoc with instructional duties or plan to update current postdocs to include instructional duties you will need to work with Ms. Leslie Sitz at least four (4) months prior to the start date. These hiring proposals MUST reach Faculty Affairs at least 30 days, with no mistakes, before the appointment date.

Postdoctoral Associates – Hiring

  • Are considered full-time, limited-term, benefits-eligible employees.
    • Limited to a 5-year term at UGA.
    • May participate in UGA employee health insurance
    • Have the option of participating either in Teachers Retirement System (TRS) of Georgia or an Optional Retirement Plan (ORP); 5-year term limit should be considered
    • Postdoc positions are considered protected. This means if you decide to terminate the position due to lack of funding or other means outside the employee’s control you will need to process a lay off request. The layoff request process should begin several months (4-6) in advance of the effective date of lay off. Bear in mind the account holder is responsible for payroll costs during this processing time. If a layoff is considered, you will need to reach out to Jennifer Mathews right away.
    • Postdoctoral Associate are entitled to formal evaluations by their faculty mentor, annually. UGA has developed a performance assessment to help. Jennifer will notify supervisors of assessment needs and deadlines.
      • Written, formative evaluations appropriately customized to long-term career development (e.g., IDP) are strongly encouraged.
      • UGA postdoc associates are subject to the UGA annual budget and salary guidelines for annual merit raises.
      • Evaluations should be linked to annual stipend/salary raises when feasible based on funding.
    • Eligible for 10 hours per month of paid annual leave and 8 hours per month of paid sick leave (unless on academic payroll); Ecology postdoc appointments are processed as 12-month positions
      • No leave payout upon separation BUT leave may carry over to other UGA position which could make annual leave eligible for payout upon separation, up to 360 hours.
    • UGA does not use negotiated, fixed fringe benefit rates for sponsored projects. Fringe benefit rates are charged based upon the actual costs of the elected benefits.
      • Estimated fringe benefit rates are adjusted annually and include FICA, Retirement, Life Insurance and Health Insurance. Average range = 30-50+%
    • UGA’s recommended minimum salary of a postdoc is $47,476. You should also consider how much current postdocs in your School are making.
      • Federal stipend rate as of 02.2021:
        • $53,760 (0)
        • $54,144 (1)
        • $54,540 (2)
        • $56,712 (3)
        • $58,608 (4)
        • A justification is required if you are seeking to pay >10% above Federal rate
  • Assigned responsibilities are predominantly research and/or scholarship with no more than 50% formal instructional responsibilities
  • Assignment should prepare associate for a full-time career in academia, industry, government or the non-profit sector

Continuation

  • Unless a firm end date is communicated in writing, positions are by default continuous for the 5-year limit.
  • Postdoc MUST be fully informed in writing 90 days (preferably 120 days) before funding ends, before reaching the 5-year limit if not moving in to another position, or due to poor performance or disciplinary action. Note, poor performance or disciplinary action should be discussed with Ecology’s HR Liaison BEFORE discussing with the employee, if the situation allows.
  • The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs strongly recommends annual continuation letters that clearly define the future availability of funds and/or upcoming end of term. A good habit would be to provide the associate with a continuation letter annually, at least 3 months before the current date. Work with Jennifer to comprise this and set a schedule.

Mid-year salary increases

  • As a reminder, UGA postdoc associates are subject to the UGA annual budget and salary guidelines for annual merit raises.
  • These can be requested with justification on this form:
    • Equity
    • New duties

Mentor responsibilities

  • Postdocs should directly report to and be supervised by a mentor who is a faculty member in the unit to which the appointee is assigned.
  • Faculty mentors should provide a written description of assigned duties and expectations together with a description of the goals and objectives of the training program.
  • Faculty mentors are responsible for guiding and monitoring the work and advancing the training of postdoctoral appointees.
  • Faculty mentors should regularly and frequently communicate with appointees and provide performance assessment and career advice and assistance.

Grievance

Postdocs have access to the same grievance policy as regular employees.

https://hr.uga.edu/employees/workplace-concerns/uga-grievance-disciplinary-review/

Dispute Resolution Policy:

https://hr.uga.edu/employees/workplace-concerns/uga-dispute-resolution-process/

Termination

Ways a postdoc associate appointment could end:

  • Reach 5-year limit
    • UGA’s limit is set at 5 years
    • Justification required if five years at UGA exceeds ten total years of postdoctoral training.
    • Can be extended for medical or family leaves.
    • Possible RIF (layoff).
  • Funding ends
    • 90-day written notice of the end of funding, even if offer letter indicates continuation is dependent on availability of funding
    • RIF required. Central UGA HR should approve BEFORE notice is sent to employee.
  • Poor performance or disciplinary action (consult with Ecology’s HR Liaison BEFORE reaching out to your employee)
    • Coordinate with Ecology’s HR and Central HR.
  • Resignation
    • Possible RIF, depends on cause
    • If possible, obtain resignation letter including the last day the employee intends to work and whether they accepted a job within UGA or other USG institution. It makes transition easier.
  • Continue in new role at UGA
    • No progression within postdoc category
    • Must move to new faculty or staff position to remain at UGA – consider salaries of others in unit with same title to avoid compression and inversion.
      • Senior Research Associate (SRA) – STAFF
        • Within BCAT category “Research Professional”
        • Most appropriate for standard advancement of a postdoctoral scholar within the same research group.
        • SRAs may act as Principal Investigators in submitting proposals for research funding.
        • Earned leave as a postdoc will carry over to this position. Annual leave is subject to payout upon termination, up to 360 hours.
        • A search is required unless a search was conducted for the original postdoc position.
        • If a search is needed, you will follow the same policies and procedures as you would for hiring a regular staff position.
      • Assistant Research Scientist – non-tenure track research FACULTY
        • BCAT category: “Researcher AC”
        • Should be reserved for postdoctoral appointees who are on a trajectory for independent accomplishment.
        • Appointments are within units, not within research groups, and require approval by unit faculty
        • If appointed to a 12-month position, earned leave as a postdoc will carry over to this position. Annual leave is subject to payout upon termination, up to 360 hours.
        • A search is required unless a search was conducted for the original postdoctoral position.
        • If a search is needed, you will follow the same policies and procedures as you would for hiring a faculty member.
      • Lecturer/Instructor – non-tenure track FACULTY
        • Most appropriate for postdocs who wish to pursue an academic teaching career.
        • Appointments are within units
        • If appointed to a 12-month position, earned leave as a postdoc will carry over to this position. Annual leave is subject to payout upon termination, up to 360 hours.
        • A search is required unless a search was conducted for the original postdoctoral position.
        • If a search is needed, you will follow the same policies and procedures as you would for hiring a faculty member.

Reduction in Force (RIF) – layoff

  • Required to demonstrate that employment is ending due to a business action. Protects against (suspicion of) bias or discrimination.
    • Within the 5-year term limit, postdoc positions are considered continuous.
    • If an individual postdoc leaves (resigns on their own), and the ability to hire a replacement into the position remains, no RIF is needed. 
    • If the position itself ends, for example due to end of funding, a RIF is required.
      • Grant funded positions:
        • RIF must be reviewed and approved by UGA Central HR.
        • The mandatory 60-90 day notice to the employee starts after final approval by Central HR. Some relief of the mandatory notice can be approved IF you can demonstrate, in writing, the employee was previously given clear notice of specific end of employment date.
      • State-funded positions:
        • RIF must be reviewed and approved by the President of the University and the University System of Georgia Board of Regent (BOR).
        • The mandatory 60-90-day notice to the employee starts after final approval by the BOR.

Stay in touch, get involved, provide feedback at the University level:

Ecology’s Process to request a RESEARCH ONLY postdoc position:

  • Prepare Ecology’s posting form. This captures information we need to request the position (seat), fund the position and post the position.
  • If HR approves of the position (seat), we will let you know if/when your position is approved for posting.
  • Postdocs can be direct hired or hired via search. If conducting a search, be sure to refer to the Interviewer’s Guide from the Provost’s Office. This document includes information on what can/can’t be asked during an interview.
  • Once you’ve selected your candidate you’ll need to notify our office so we can continue working with you to close the position and hire the chosen applicant. Do not make any offers, verbal or written, to the candidate without discussing with the EBO first. The Postdoc Office has requirements that must be met. See below.
    • You will need to submit a hiring proposal form in order for us to close the position in the system.
    • The Postdoc Office will require:
      • An offer letter with signed acceptance. This offer letter MUST be reviewed and approved by the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs before you can present anything to the candidate. Our office will work with you using OPA’s template.
        • Note, even if you mention an end date in the letter, this does not constitute notice of lay off. It helps, but does not hold up for purposes of releasing someone from employment. If you specify an end date in the letter it is wise to provide a continuation letter to your employee at least three months before the current end date OR provide a notice of termination according to the policy listed above.
      • The applicant’s evidence of degree.
      • The applicant’s CV.
      • Further documents may be required if teaching is involved. Remember to work with Leslie on these types of appointments.

Please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns. If you anticipate hiring an international, you will need to keep that process and related costs in mind. Typical visa requests, assuming coordinating offices at the UGA/State/Federal level are operating under normal hours, would need to be submitted at least 3-4 months before the start date of the position.

Summary Table of Postdoctoral Position Details

 Postdoctoral Associate ADPostdoctoral Associate AC
BCAT Job Code471206
DescriptionEmployee; research only dutiesEmployee; research and instruction (Instructor of Record)
Term5 years max5 years max
CompensationSalarySalary
Required Minimum$47,476 (100% EFT)$47,476 (100% EFT)
Income Tax OwedYesYes
Income Tax WithheldYesYes
UGA MyIDRequiredRequired
UGA CardRequiredRequired
UGA Parking EligibleYesYes
UGA ServicesYesYes
Background InvestigationRequiredRequired
Right-to-Know TrainingRequiredRequired
Lab Safety TrainingRequiredRequired
Retirement BenefitsTRS or ORP (with employer match)TRS or ORP (with employer match)
Health InsuranceEmployeeEmployee
Annual Leave10 hours/month10 hours/month (unless on academic payroll)
Sick Leave8 hours/month8 hours/month
Who do I work with?Mica TurnerLeslie Sitz
When should I start the process?as soon as possibleat least 4 months in advance
What if international?Start at least 6 months in advanceStart at least 6 months in advance
   

Postdoc FAQs

Where can I find the postdoctoral policy and other postdoc-related documents, form and templates?

The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs webpage (https://research.uga.edu/opa/) contains links to the Policy for Postdoctoral Appointments and other postdoc-related information under “Documents” at the bottom of the page.

Other postdoc-related documents on the OPA webpage include the offer letter templates, mid-year salary increase request form, hiring proposal cover form, this guide and others. Links to these documents can also be found on the main Office of Research Forms and Policies page (https://research.uga.edu/documents/) under “Postdoctoral Affairs”.

Prospective and current postdoctoral scholars can visit the Postdoc Portal (https://postdocs.uga.edu/) to find information and resources that will enhance the postdoctoral experience at UGA. Unit Administrators can also link back to the OPA webpage from the home page of the Postdoc Portal. NOTE: All UGA postdocs are automatically signed up to the UGA Postdoc Listserv by the OPA.

What documents serve as “Evidence of Degree”?

Postdocs are required to have a terminal degree in their field and hiring units must show evidence that the candidate for the postdoc position has received the degree. The evidence of degree does not need to be official transcripts as long as the postdoc BCAT is 471.

The 206 Postdoc Associate AC – Research and Teaching – postdocs DO require official transcripts since they will teach as Instructor of Record. In the case of the 206 postdocs, the official transcripts must be sent directly to the Office of Faculty Affairs. See the appointment guide for full details on this.

For BCAT 471 the evidence of degree can be

1) copies/scans of transcripts that show the degree conference date;

2) an official letter from the major professor, grad school or other official at the institution stating all requirements were completed for the degree and on what date;

3) the defense “grade sheet” or other document that shows or certifies that the defense was passed and on what date. If the defense grade sheet is used and shows “pass with revisions”, then the sheet must be accompanied by verification that the revisions were submitted and accepted. Also, if this documentation is used, then the defense must have completed all outstanding requirements for the degree.

Postdocs are required to have a terminal degree. Can the hiring unit give an offer and process the Hiring Proposal before a candidate completes all the degree requirements?

If a candidate still needs to defend and/or complete other requirements then OPA has steps in place to help with extending an offer and processing the Hiring Proposal (HP):

1. Email our office at opa@uga.edu with the candidate’s defense date and the target start date. The defense date must be prior to the start date.

2. Then you can start the process as normal to appoint the postdoc.

3. The offer letter to the person must state “This offer is for a ___ year full-time appointment at an annual salary of $______ with a start date as early as _____ and is contingent on the successful completion of your ____ (Ph.D.) degree and upon completion of a background investigation demonstrating your eligibility for employment.”

4. When you submit the HP include the email communications with our office in lieu of the evidence of degree in the HP documents.

5. Please also list in the Comments section in the HP the date the postdoc will defend.

6. Our office will review and approve the HP and make note that the evidence of degree is needed by the start date.

7. When the evidence of degree is available after the defense date please send that to our office for the postdoc’s file.

a. The evidence of degree can be an official letter from the major professor, grad school, or another official at the institution, the defense “grade sheet” or another document that shows or certifies that the defense was passed.

b. If the defense-grade sheet shows “pass with revisions” then the grade sheet must be accompanied by an official letter stating that the revisions were submitted and accepted.

Our unit needs a current research-only postdoc to teach a class. How do I appoint an existing Postdoctoral Associate AD (research only) to a Postdoctoral Associate AC (research and teaching as Instructor of Record)? Remember to work with Leslie Sitz on this type of appointment.

Normally, this would require a new position, posting and HP. However, this transition can now occur via an Evaluate action in UGAJobs. There are still some requirements that must be met. Please see the steps below.

1. Use the Evaluate action to change the BCAT of the postdoc from 471 to 206.

2. According to HR this requires a change of BCAT/title and duties.

3. Upload the required documents to appoint to this position to the Evaluate action:

a. Postdoc HP Cover Form (Appointments to research and teaching/Postdoc Associate AC positions must be signed by the Dept Head and Dean, as applicable to the college)

c. Offer letter with signed acceptance.

d. Updated CV

e. Official transcripts – these are to be sent directly to the Office of Faculty Affairs, preferably via ofatranscripts@uga.edu. Contact OFA if you have questions about this requirement.

4. Send the Evaluate action to the college level (if applicable) and then send to Office of Postdoc Affairs (as the “Sponsored Office”). Office of Postdoc Affairs will review and then send to Office of Faculty Affairs for review.

5. Important: Evaluate requests to reclassify a current Postdoc Associate AD (research only) position to a Postdoctoral Associate AC (research and teaching) position should reach the Sponsored Office workflow stop in UGAJobs at least 15 days prior to the effective start date of the new position. This deadline will allow ample time for the position evaluation request to be fully approved in UGAJobs prior to the start date of the new position. Please note, a Postdoctoral Associate AC (Postdoctoral Research & Teaching Associate) must not teach, nor have any student contact, in person or online until the position evaluation is fully approved in UGAJobs.

6. Follow the Instructor of Record Credentialing process for postdocs (Banner Load Request). Contact OFA if you have any questions on that process. Note: For Ecology, contact the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

Can I appoint a postdoc part-time?

At this time, UGA postdocs are required to be 100% time.

What are the salary requirements to appoint a postdoc?

As of January 2021, Postdoctoral Associates, administered through UGA, must be compensated a minimum annual salary of $47,476.

In some disciplines, external funding agencies provide salary guidance that suggests higher minimum stipends and in those cases, our recommendation follows that guidance (e.g., in the biological sciences, the National Institutes of Health publishes guidelines).

Before an offer is extended to a postdoc candidate, the unit should send the draft offer letter to opa@uga.edu for review (see the postdoc appointment guide for full details). If the offered salary is 10% above the corresponding level on the NIH NRSA Postdoc Stipend Levels scale for the candidate’s years of experience, then a salary justification must accompany the offer letter draft. (The NIH NRSA stipend levels are subject to change by fiscal year. Check that you are using the most current scale.)

Can I give my postdoc a mid-year salary increase?

Mid-year salary increase requests can be considered, but are not guaranteed to be approved. The research mentor/supervisor should complete the required mid-year increase request form, obtain appropriate approvals through the unit reporting hierarchy and then submit the form to the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs via email to opa@uga.edu. UGA postdocs are considered staff and are subject to the UGA annual budget and salary guidelines for annual merit raises.

My postdoc is nearing the end of their 5 year appointment. May I continue them on payroll?

The maximum term of appointment for a postdoctoral appointee at this institution is five years. This limit is based on federal guidelines and the tenet that postdoctoral appointments are primarily for training, which has a natural duration. The term refers to the total, cumulative time spent at UGA as a postdoctoral appointee and does not include time spent at the University as an undergraduate or graduate student or as a postdoctoral appointee at other institutions. However, strong justification will be required if five years at UGA exceeds ten total years of postdoctoral training. The five-year term limit may be interrupted for extended medical or family leaves. Exceptions to the five-year term limit will be considered by Office of Postdoctoral Affairs; these are expected to be rare, are restricted to up to one additional year and will be approved only in cases with strong justification based on the need to complete additional training and not to complete additional work.

Appointing units should ensure that postdoctoral appointees do not exceed the five-year term limit. Office of Postdoctoral Affairs will periodically review postdoctoral appointments to ensure compliance. If the maximum term of appointment is reached, an appointee must be moved into an established position or separated with a minimum ninety-day notice, starting the process with your unit at least 6 months in advance as your unit is required to work with UGA-HR to ensure good faith efforts.

Established positions that may be appropriate after a five-year postdoctoral appointment include:

•Senior Research Associate – this staff position is the most appropriate for a postdoctoral scholar who remains with the same research group beyond the five-year training period. With appropriate permission, Senior Research Associates may act as Principal Investigators in submitting proposals for research funding.

•Assistant Research Scientist – this non-tenure-track research faculty position is analogous to the assistant professor position; appointment requires approval by unit faculty (http://research.uga.edu/docs/policies/research/Research-Scientist-Appointment-Promotion.pdf).  Note that Assistant Research Scientists are appointed within units (e.g., departments, schools, centers, institutes), not within research groups. Appointment to these positions should be reserved for those postdoctoral appointees who are on a trajectory for independent accomplishment. Standard advancement within a research group would usually involve appointment as a Senior Research Associate (above).

•Lecturer/Instructor – Postdoctoral appointees may be appointed to one of these non-tenure-track faculty positions should they wish to pursue an academic teaching career. Lecturers and Instructors are appointed within units following standard faculty search and appointment procedures.

In Ecology, if you desire a move to a faculty line you are requested to present your proposal to the Dean well in advance. The Dean will review the request with Associate Deans and, potentially, the OPA and make a recommendation following.