Update to the FLSA Academic Appointment Guidelines - August 26, 2016

Dear Colleagues, 

This is an update to the FLSA Academic Appointment Guidelines e-mail that was sent on June 13, 2016, which outlined the University’s plan to implement the new U.S. Department of Labor rules governing minimum salary thresholds and overtime pay for all U.S. employers. 

The National Institutes of Health have issued revised guidelines regarding stipends for postdoctoral research fellows, and the University has revised the 2016-17 Salary Guidelines for Full-Time Officers of Research to comply with the directive from the Department of Labor.  Staff from the Office of the Provost, General Counsel, Finance, Research Administration, and Human Resources are currently working to develop policies and procedures for part-time officers of research,
and this information will be distributed separately by the end of August. 

As of December 1, 2016 the NIH will raise the stipends of postdoctoral research fellows with no years of experience to $47,476 to be in compliance with the minimum salary thresholds issued by the Department of Labor.  If the stipends of any of the postdoctoral research fellows are below the new NIH minimum, or if any of the postdoctoral research fellows are receiving less than $47,476 when their stipends are supplemented with departmental funds, the principal investigators, or their department, institute or center, must supplement the stipend with salary to bring it up to that level effective December 1, 2016. 

The updated 2016-17 Salary Guidelines for Full-Time Officers of Research effective
December 1, 2016 can be found at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/vpaa/docs/MS_CUMC_ressal16.html. The minimum salaries for Postdoctoral Research Scientists, Postdoctoral Research Scholars, Postdoctoral Research Fellows, and Staff Associates effective December 1, 2016 will be $47,476. The minimum salaries for professional officers of research and Senior Staff Associates remain unchanged from those issued on March 31, 2016. 

As we approach August 31, 2016 which is a key deadline for implementing the new regulations, please review the following information which was included in our June 13, 2016 e-mail.  These statements along with the updated information mentioned above should guide your appointments of officers of research during the coming months as the new federal rules take effect:  

  • Faculty are generally exempt from these regulations. 
  • As of December 1, 2016 all full–time officers of research must
    earn at least $913 per week (the equivalent of $47,476 annually) for the remainder
    of the appointment term. 
  • Full-time officers of research who were appointed only through November 30, 2016 because funding could not be immediately identified to raise them to the new minimum must either receive a letter of nonrenewal by August 31, 2016 with the notification that their appointment will not be extended beyond November 30, 2016 or have their appointment extended beyond November 30, 2016 with an annual salary of at least the new minimum ($47,476). 
  • Full-time officers of research who were appointed beyond November 30, 2016 but whose (re)appointment letter stated that their salary would be increased effective December 1, 2016 to the federally mandated minimum must have their appointments and salaries adjusted to the new minimum by the end of
    November 2016. 
  • Full-time officers of research who were appointed beyond November 30, 2016 but whose salary is currently below the new minimum of $913 per week/$47,476 annually cannot be terminated without proper notice of nonrenewal.  If their annual salary cannot be raised to $47,476 from December 1, 2016 to the end of their current appointment, they must be placed on a leave for lapse of funding without salary through their current appointment end date, and the school, department, institute, or center will be responsible for paying for participation in the University’s medical, life insurance, and long-term disability plans until the end of the stated term of appointment.  

All officers of research whose appointments are being changed to comply with federal regulations, either because their salary is being raised to $47,476 or because their appointments are being terminated on November 30, 2016 due to lack of funding, must receive a revised appointment letter.  (See attached sample letters.)  A copy of the letter signed by the officer of research will need to accompany the PAF adjusting the salary or terminating the appointment. 

Requests for leaves for lapse of funding must be submitted to the appropriate Chair and/or Dean/Executive Vice President as soon as possible, but no later than the middle of September. 

For questions about sponsored project budget allocation, please contact your Sponsored Projects Administration project officer. For information about appointments, on the Morningside campus please contact Pearl Spiro, Associate Provost for Academic Appointments, and at CUMC please call April Armstrong Studivant, Director of the CUMC Office of Faculty Affairs, or Anne Taylor, Senior Vice Dean of Faculty Affairs and Career Development at CUMC. For legal questions relating to the U.S. Department of Labor guidelines, please contact Jessica Fenton, Associate General Counsel, or Donna Fenn, Associate General Counsel. 

Sincerely, 

John H. Coatsworth

Provost  

 

G. Michael Purdy

Executive Vice President for Research
  

 

SALARY REVISION LETTER 

Dear Dr./Mr./Ms. _____________________:

This indicates a revision of the salary noted in my letter of <date>.

I am pleased to inform you of your appointment as <title> in
<department, school, institute, center> (full-time) from <date> to
<date>.  During that period, your salary, which is contingent upon
the availability of funding, will be $xx,xxx.

 

APPOINTMENT REVISION LETTER

Dear Dr./Mr./Ms. _____________________:

This indicates a revision of the appointment noted in my letter of
<date>.

I am pleased to inform you of your appointment as <title> in <department, school, institute, center> (full-time) from <date> to <date>.  During that period, your salary, which is contingent upon the availability of funding, will be $xx,xxx.

 

LETTER OF NONRENEWAL 

Dear Dr./Mr./Ms. _____________________:

I must regretfully inform you that your appointment as <title> in <department, school, institute, center> will not be renewed after November 30, 2016.

I deeply appreciate the skill and care with which you have served the department, school, institute, center>.  You have my best wishes and those of the <department, school, institute, center> on your future career.