UTAustin MBS PDA:EmploymentDetails
- 1 Postdoc employee benefits
- 2 Types of positions
- 3 Becoming a research affiliate
- 4 Responsible conduct of research
Postdoc employee benefits
Types of positions
The "Postdoctoral Fellow" position is a temporary training position for recent PhD graduates. At UT, you can be appointed as a Postdoctoral Fellow for up to 5 years, and you must have received your PhD within 3 years of your initial postdoc assignment.
Full-time Postdoctoral Fellows are eligible to receive the same benefits as all UT faculty and staff: insurance (medical, dental, vision, life, disability, long term care, flexible spending account); paid annual, sick, and holiday leave; and participation in a retirement program: https://hr.utexas.edu/prospective/benefits.html
Research Affiliate Postdoctoral
You become a "Research Affiliate Postdoc" when you (as a postdoc fellow) are awarded a fellowship or traineeship from an external agency or organization. You may be paid directly from the granting agency, or through a University account administered by the Office of Sponsored Projects. Your payments aren't made through the University payroll system (which means that the University is not withholding taxes on these payments). See the "Becoming a Research Affiliate" section for more details.
As a Research Affiliate Postdoc, you are not considered "benefits eligible", but even so, you can enroll in certain health insurance plans that are part of the University’s group insurance program: https://hr.utexas.edu/current/insurance/plans/rapostdoc_fellow.html . However, you have to pay the insurance premiums yourself. See the "Becoming a Research Affiliate" section for more details.
Becoming a research affiliate
Research Affiliate Postdoc
This “special” type of arrangement/appointment typically happens when a postdoc is awarded external funding, such as a fellowship from NSF, NIH or elsewhere. When receiving support from an individual/external fellowship, you are not considered a "normal employee" anymore. And there are some important differences...
MOST IMPORTANTLY - If you've submitted a fellowship proposal and you think you might get funded, be proactive and talk to the HR professional in your department or research unit. This is the person who assisted with your initial appointment at UT-Austin, and they can answer many questions you might have about becoming an external fellowship-supported Research Affiliate Postdoc. (If you don't know who your departmental HR contact is, ask your PI to point you to the right person.)
Steps to take upon notification of an award
1. Notify your department (if you have not done so already).
2. You have to provide Human Resources with several documents within the first month of your status change, though doing it the month before is highly recommended:
Affiliated Postdoctoral Fellow – Sponsoring Faculty Form Insurance Enrollment/Change Application Proof of Relationship Documents (if you have kids or a partner) Beneficiary Designation Form (for the life and AD&D insurance)
These forms should be submitted to the Human Resource Service Center (email@example.com), along with a copy of your fellowship paperwork that includes: name of fellow, funding source, fellowship begin date, and fellowship end date.
3. Be sure to check that your keycard still works. Often times, it gets reset in the change.
The money stuff
While you no longer accrue vacation time and sick leave, what you have accrued can be used if you return to standard employment at UT, or paid out (according to university policy) when you leave UT. In some instances, they've been known to pay it out at the end of the school year that you change appointment in. If you made any contributions to TRS, they can be refunded to you, though with a small penalty. This, too, may have to wait until you leave UT, but you can find the form here.
Taxes – Since you are no longer a “normal” employee, UT does not withhold your taxes. So now you have to put the big kid pants on and do it yourself. What’s even more, you have to pay them quarterly. (This may be different for international scholars. Contact the International Office with questions.) The IRS has forms that you can use to pay taxes quarterly - in April, June, September and January. They are usually due about halfway through the respective month. I have gotten away with doing it yearly in the past, though it is against the rules and you may get audited, then have to pay additional fees. The VPR Postdoc Office has some resources listed for people who might need assistance with taxes: https://research.utexas.edu/postdoc/resources/postdoc-handbook/ (Scroll to section on Personal Finances.) The National Postdoc Association also maintains a helpful tax info page for "non-employee" postdocs: http://www.nationalpostdoc.org/?page=TaxIssues
Research Affiliate Postdocs have access to standard UT employee Medical, Dental and Vision options. Prescription Drug Coverage and the basic Life and AD&D insurance are also included under the Medical coverage. Unfortunately, you must now pay the full monthly premium for your UTSelect insurance if you decide to stay with it (no premium sharing for Research Affiliate postdocs). Costs are listed here: https://hr.utexas.edu/current/insurance/plans/rates.html#fellow. Some fellowships provide supplemental funds to assist with this, but the responsibility for actually making the monthly payment is yours. (Of course, some Research Affiliate Postdocs might choose to find insurance coverage outside of UT.) There is also a cheaper alternative: you can choose to switch to the 'student' health insurance, which almost as good as UTSelect, but is significantly cheaper. It is called the Academic Healthcare Plan (AHP) or sometimes the Student Healthcare Insurance Plan (SHIP). Talk to your HR person about this option - they can help determine if it's available to you.
UT no longer contributes to your retirement, so you have to start your own independent plan, especially if you previously had TRS. If you have ORP, you may be able to work with your investment company to continue to add to your existing retirement plan. If you have questions about this, you can contact Human Resources (512-471-4772)