Policies for Postdoctoral Fellows

PDAD&C #3, 2002-2003


TO:   Principals, Deans, Academic Directors and Chairs
FROM:   Vivek Goel, Vice-Provost, Faculty
DATE:   July 22, 2002
RE:   Policies for Post-doctoral Fellows

Governing Council has passed a new set of policies that apply to post-doctoral fellows (PDFs). These policies were prepared based on recommendations contained in the report of a Task Force chaired by Professor Umberto De Boni. The Task Force included representation from across the University community and consulted broadly with PDFs. Drafts of the proposed policies were circulated throughout the University for discussion and input. The policies devolve responsibility for the engagement of PDFs locally to the department and faculty. Key points are that PDFs are to be considered as trainees rather than employees (this is a clarification of the current treatment), a minimum stipend has been set, a maximum period for engagement has been set, and there is a defined procedure for engagement and reporting of PDFs. The accompanying Administrative Procedures for Engagement of Post-Doctoral Fellows, issued by the Office of the Vice-President and Provost, outline these procedures. The terms of engagement, particularly the minimum stipend will be reviewed on a regular basis by the Provost. The policies will apply to all new PDFs engaged effective Sept. 1, 2002. PDFs currently engaged may continue under their current terms. However, all current PDFs will be expected to fall under the new policy by June 30th, 2004. In particular, the criteria for minimum stipend and the time durations will have to be met. Specifically, no post-doc will be allowed to continue beyond a three year appointment without appropriate approval, and in no circumstances, will a PDF position continue beyond a total maximum of six years since their first engagement at the University of Toronto. Individuals who are to continue beyond such a period should be reclassified to the appropriate appointment category (e.g., research assistant, research associate). Please consult your HR generalist regarding the mechanism for this.

In order to coordinate activities for PDFs, the Post-Doctoral Office will be established in the School of Graduate Studies. The proposed functions of the Office will include compilation of statistics, development and maintenance of an information website for PDFs, support of Divisions in the organization of symposia and workshops for PDFs (e.g. on career development) and coordination of other issues on their behalf. For example, the Office will address such external issues as lobbying for changes to OSAP rules (e.g., allowing for a waiver of interest payments on debt during the term of engagement of PDF), or lobbying for eligibility for the education tax credit for PDFs. More information regarding the Office will be forwarded in the near future.

The Office will work with Human Resources to develop a basic health and dental insurance plan for PDFs. It is proposed that the plan will be voluntary and that the University will facilitate the purchase by PDFs of a basic plan at a favourable rate. Further details on these programs will be available in the fall.

The registration process, outlined in the Administrative Procedures for Engagement of Post-Doctoral Fellows, has been kept as simple as possible, with the key activities occurring in the relevant departments and Divisions. Administrative and academic responsibility for individual PDFs rests with the budgetary unit within which they are located. Letters of engagement are to be co-signed by the supervisor and Chair, reflecting the institutional commitment. The Dean should be copied on the letter of engagement. A Governing Council policies on PDFs.

Administrative Procedures for Engagement of Post-Doctoral Fellows

  1. Engagement of post-doctoral fellows requires the approval of the Chair or Director of the Department/Unit in multi-department faculties, and the Dean in single department faculties.
  2. An engagement letter should be entered into, and should be signed by the Chair, the faculty supervisor and the post-doctoral fellow.
  3. Elements of the engagement letter should include:
    • The duration of the engagement (not more than three years, and limited opportunity for renewal for up to a further three years).
    • Termination at any time for cause (i.e. failure to meet required service standards).
    • Early termination (for reasons such as cessation of funding) by giving two months notice or, in the case of the University, payment in lieu of notice of the amount of the stipend that would have been earned over the two month period.
    • Identification of the stipend and any additional support.
    • A description of the services to be provided.
    • Identification of any supports that will be provided (e.g., conference support).
    • Confirmation that, provided the service standards are met, and after discussion with the faculty supervisor to ensure operational feasibility, the post-doctoral fellow is free to take time off for personal reasons, to provide the equivalent of vacation, etc.
    • Confirmation that no tuition fee or registration fee will be applied.
    • Confirmation that the letter does not establish an employment relationship, and that the post-doctoral fellow is responsible for his/her own income tax and other statutory obligations.
  4. The minimum stipend will be $25,000.
  5. A copy of the engagement letter, signed back by the post-doctoral fellow, will be forwarded to the Dean of the Faculty.
  6. The Dean of the Faculty will submit to the Dean of the SGS a list of campus-based post-doctoral fellows, including the term of their engagement, and the stipend amount.
  7. The SGS Post-Doctoral Affairs Office will consult with Human Resources to determine annually the support that will be made available, or which the University will assist in making available (as appropriate), including, but not limited to, access to supplementary health and dental insurance, and access to athletic facilities.
  8. These procedures will apply for all PDFs starting after Sept. 1, 2002. Engagement letters meeting these terms should be offered to current PDFs no later than June 30, 2004.

May 27, 2002, Office of the Vice-President and Provost