10 days to the FLSA update: what institutions are doing and how postdocs will be affected

10 days to the FLSA update: what institutions are doing and how postdocs will be affected

On Dec 1st, the threshold at which salaried workers receive overtime payment for working more than 40 hours per week will increase from $23,660 to $47,476 per year, under updates to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Institutions have the choice to either increase the minimum salary for postdocs to $47,476, or to classify postdocs as hourly workers. Here is the latest in our series on what institutions are doing, and the last before the update is due to come into force.


We have published a paper in F1000Research discussing the FLSA and the data with one month to go (as of October 31st). We posted an update as of Nov 10, and in the intervening 10 days, with 10 days to go, we further summarize information gathered for the FLSA and postdocs resource in this blogpost up to November 20th.


We have now contacted or researched ALL institutions in the NSF dataset of institutions with postdoctoral researchers, plus some additional institutions.


New data


Compared to our previous post 10 days ago, the percentage of the postdoc population in each category has remained essentially unchanged: 69% of postdocs should have salaries raised; 6% of postdocs may have salaries raised or may have hours tracked; 3% of postdocs will be at institutions focused on allowing hours tracking; and for 22% of postdocs we do not know what will happen. See the figure below.


Note that postdocs in positions where hours tracking is allowed could still have their salaries raised if the PI agrees to do so.




How institutions are implementing the change has now changed as we have looked into every institution on our list. The number of institutions with no decision has increased: 220 institutions out of 341 have no public decision available with 10 days to go. 87 institutions are raising salaries; 12 institutions are just focusing on hours tracking and 19 institutions are generally encouraging raising salaries but still allowing hours tracking of full-time postdocs. See the figure below.


The largest ten institutions in this list – Harvard, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, MIT, UC San Diego, U of Michigan, Columbia, Yale, U of Washington and UC Berkeley – are all raising salaries or already have exempt salaries, and account for about 30% of the postdoctoral workforce.




What comes next?

With 10 days left, it is unclear whether institutions for which we have no information will have made a decision. We know at least one institution (University of Texas El Paso) is waiting for the result of a legal challenge, due to be announced on Nov 22, which is cutting the implementation time very close.


Should the legal challenge fail, the update will go ahead. From Dec 1, institutions will need to comply with the update. There are possible plans by House Republicans to repeal the ruling, but compliance must still occur in the intervening time. The repeal of the ruling, and what then happens at institutions, presents many questions, and is a possible point of further research which we will address, to see whether institutions continue in their plans, or not.


  1. University of Washington has cancelled the FLSA salary raises & overtime for post-docs as a result of the injunction.

    • Hi I’ve just heard that they are going ahead – do you have a link you could send us? Thanks!


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