The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) provides support and resources for postdoctoral researchers, as well as faculty and administration, and advocates for postdoctoral issues. 

Eligibility

Postdoctoral Research Scholars or Clinical Fellows are eligible for university benefits only if they receive a stipend from Washington University (the “university”). There are occasions when the Scholars or Clinical Fellows receive funding directly from outside sources that is not routed through the university. This policy provides guidance to departments in order for such individuals to be eligible for university benefits:

  • Prior to offering a Scholar or Clinical Fellow a position, the department is responsible for determining if the outside funding source will provide funds to the university sufficient to pay a stipend to the Scholar or Clinical Fellow, or if departmental funds are available to pay a stipend
  • The Scholar or Clinical Fellow will be eligible for university benefits applicable to and/or selected by the Scholar or Clinical Fellow only if the amount of the stipend is sufficient to cover the total cost of university benefits
  • The total cost of university benefits that must be covered by the stipend includes the applicable departmental fringe benefit charges for such Scholar or Clinical Fellow and the Scholar or Clinical Fellow’s portion of benefit costs, including premiums for voluntary or optional benefit elections

If a Scholar or Clinical Fellow receives 100% of his/her funding directly from an outside source and does not receive any stipend from the university, then university benefits are not available.


Tuition Assistance

Postdoctoral appointees may take undergraduate classes for career development purposes at University College only with full tuition remission. Books and fees are not covered.

The course must be approved and signed off on by the principal investigator. Examples of approved classes would be those that promote the career development of a postdoctoral appointee, such as English language skills, education, or other areas that relate to a postdoctoral appointee’s field. Classes that do not contribute to a postdoctoral appointee’s career will not be approved.

A maximum of 4 credits per semester is allowed. There is no dependent, spouse or graduate level tuition benefit.

For additional information including eligibility requirements, please view the Postdoctoral Appointee Tuition Assistance Policy.

Follow the instructions on and complete the Postdoctoral Appointee Tuition Assistance Request form to initiate your request. 


Time Off

Postdoctoral appointees and research scholars receive time off. The content below highlights specific details for postdocs on vacation, sick and personal time away from training. For more information on university FMLA and leave policies, visit the Policies section of the HR website.


Vacation

Postdoctoral Appointees with employee status are allowed fifteen (15) days of paid vacation leave per year. Vacation leave is not accrued, but is appointed every July 1st. Unused vacation days do not carry over from year to year and are not paid out upon termination. Vacation leave will be prorated for the amount of time from the date of the initial appointment through June 30th, and thereafter annual allocations of fifteen (15) vacation days will occur every July 1st.

Vacation leave shall be used at a time approved by the appointee’s mentor and in keeping with the postdoctoral appointee’s training program. Postdoctoral appointees should consult with their direct supervisor for standards for submission of vacation requests and procedures for reporting a period of absence. Failure to comply with departmental policy may result in corrective action, up to and including separation.

Use of vacation leave is governed by university policy as maintained by the Human Resources Office at the School of Medicine and Office of Post Graduate Affairs.


Sick Leave

Postdoctoral Appointees with employee status are allowed twelve (12) days of paid sick leave per year. Sick leave may only be used for the illness of the postdoctoral appointee only. Time away to care for an immediate family member’s illness is considered vacation time. Sick leave is not accrued, but is appointed every July 1st. Unused sick days do not carry over from year to year and are not paid out upon termination. Sick leave will be prorated for the amount of time from the date of the initial appointment through June 30th, and thereafter annual allocations of twelve (12) days of paid sick leave will occur every July 1st.

Postdoctoral appointees should consult with their direct supervisor for standards for attendance and procedures for reporting a period of absence. Failure to comply with departmental policy may result in corrective action, up to and including separation.

Use of sick leave is governed by university policy as maintained by the Human Resources Office at the School of Medicine and Office of Post Graduate Affairs.


For Postdoctoral Research Scholars – Time Off Away from Training:

The university recognizes that postdoctoral research scholars may need to take time away from their postdoctoral training program due to personal needs or certain serious health conditions.

Eligibility. To be eligible for this policy, a postdoctoral research scholar must have been in training at the university for at least 12 months prior to the time away and receive approval from the sponsoring agency.

Coverage. The policy allows postdoctoral research scholars to take up to 12 weeks (60 week days) time away in a rolling 12-month period measured backward from the date a postdoctoral research scholar was last away for certain personal and family medical events and is subject to the rules of the external funding agency.

Time away from training may be in blocks of time, periodic or, if permitted by the sponsoring agency, a reduced schedule. Arrangements should be discussed with the appropriate mentor, and additional documentation indicating the medical necessity may be required. A request for time away generally will not be granted if a postdoctoral research scholar has already been away for 12 weeks during the preceding 12 months.

Notice requirements. If the need for the time away is foreseeable, a postdoctoral research scholar should complete and submit a request form to the mentor at least 30 days in advance. For unforeseeable time away, such as might be required after an accidental injury or a sudden change in health, the university requires that a postdoctoral research scholar notify the department/program of the need for time away as soon as possible. The postdoctoral research scholar is also responsible for having all time away approved by their sponsoring agency in advance or as soon as possible after an event.

Reasons for time away. If eligible, a postdoctoral research scholar may take as many as 12 weeks of time away from training for the following reasons: the birth of a child; the placement of a child in the home for adoption or foster care; care of a child after birth within 12 months of birth or placement; the need to care for a spouse, child or parent who has a serious health condition; or a serious personal illness that prevents a postdoctoral research scholar from continuing his or her training.

Medical statement. When requesting time away for a serious health condition, a postdoctoral research scholar must provide an original statement from a physician or practitioner to verify the health condition that causes the need for the time away. Failure to comply with this requirement or falsification of any of the information requested may result in a delayed or a denial of the request.

Stipend payments while away from training. University policy stipulates that postdoctoral research scholars must use sick or vacation time away to be paid while away. Depending on the circumstances, up to 7 additional paid days may be granted. This means that, under certain circumstances, a postdoctoral research scholar’s stipend may continue for part or all of the time away. While away due to a medical condition, the postdoctoral research scholar will be required to use sick time at the beginning and then any available vacation followed by up to 7 additional paid days. If a postdoctoral research scholar exhausts sick, vacation and the additional 7 days, the remainder of the time away will be unpaid.

Insurance coverage while away. If a postdoctoral research scholar takes any time away under this policy, coverage by the university’s group health insurance plan can be continued. During this time, the postdoctoral research scholar is responsible for his or her insurance premium just as if he or she were continuing training. Postdoctoral appointees with non-employee status with a medical condition that is expected to last more than 90 days are encouraged to explore long-term disability options.

Returning to training. The postdoctoral research scholars are responsible for having their time away approved in advance by their sponsoring agency. If the postdoctoral research scholar is able to return to his or her training within 12 weeks, the mentor will attempt to return the individual to the same or equivalent position within the training program. However, the mentor’s ability to return a postdoctoral research scholar to the same or equivalent role held before the time away is dependent upon the rules of the sponsoring agency and there is no guarantee that the postdoctoral research scholar will be returned to the program.

A postdoctoral research scholar who has been away due to medical reasons must provide a doctor’s statement of ability to return and continue training. The department/program may request that a postdoctoral research scholar provide periodic updates during the time away. A postdoctoral research scholar is expected to comply with department/program standards and remain in contact with his or her mentor while away. Additionally, postdoctoral research scholars must confirm in advance with the mentor the date of their return to the training program.