The Department of Labor announced a new overtime expansion law Wednesday, from which UC postdoctoral researchers – including the nearly 300 postdocs at UC Irvine – will not be exempt. Under the updated Fair Labor Standards Act, postdoctoral researchers making less than $47,476 annually will now qualify for overtime pay, unless UC raises their pay over this threshold by Dec. 1, 2016, when the federal rule will officially take effect.
Previously, American salaried workers were eligible for overtime pay only if they made less than $455 per week. Following last Wednesday’s update to the Fair Labor Standards Act, the eligibility cap more than doubled to $913 per week, or $47,476 per year. As a result of the wage cap increase, companies must either compensate their salaried workers for overtime pay if they make less than the cap, or raise workers’ wage above the cap to avoid having to pay overtime.
According to a statement by the Department of Labor, the overtime regulations will affect millions of salaried employees and “will put more money in the pockets of middle class workers – or give them more free time.”
UC officials originally petitioned the Department of Labor for an exemption of postdocs in the overtime law, but postdocs are included in the final rule.
According to Anke Schennink, President of UC postdoctoral union UAW Local 5810, the majority of current UC postdoctoral researchers make less than the the $47,476 cap on overtime pay eligibility.
Additionally, UC postdoctoral researchers on average make less than the $50,000 starting salary recommended for postdoctoral researchers by the National Academy of Sciences.
UAW Local 5810 will campaign to raise the pay of UC postdoctoral researchers above the $47,476 cap in the coming year, according to Schennink.
“While we applaud the new overtime rule and the benefit it will bring to millions of people, including postdocs, on average UC pays postdocs below what the National Academy of Sciences recommends,” said Schennink in a statement. “We will continue to push for fair pay during our next round of bargaining which begins at the end of May.”