This post was contributed by Future of Research Executive Director, Gary McDowell.
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).
This is having a major effect on scientists within academia, most particularly postdocs working in the U.S., whose current salaries are below the new exemption level (the current average postdoc salary is estimated at around $45,000, but as I’ve discussed elsewhere (slides here) there are many postdocs paid at much lower salaries).
Postdocs (who are not in a primarily teaching role) come under this ruling, regardless of visa or fellowship status, in addition to certain staff scientists and those in technical roles. Therefore, institutions are responsible for ensuring that either all affected scientists are paid above this threshold or for tracking the hours that these scientists work and paying them overtime accordingly.