Provost Announcement - Updated Postdoc and Postgrad Trainee Appointment Guidance

July 29, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

We write today with updated guidance about postdoc and postgrad associates and fellows that have upcoming start dates, or that faculty may be planning to hire to begin work in the coming months. In light of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing difficulty in bringing international students and scholars to the US, we have prepared guidance specific to the current circumstances, below and attached. Because of the myriad work restrictions in the various countries in which trainees may be coming from, we are unable to hire new international trainees (postdocs and postgrads) unless they can be physically present in the US on their appointment start date. The ongoing employment of trainees who have temporarily relocated outside of the US but previously began their Yale employment when they were in the US is unaffected, but they should plan to return to the US as soon as possible.

As you make hiring decisions in the coming months, we encourage you to consider the following factors:

  • If the funding for the appointment comes from a source other than an external grant or a start-up package/research account, the offer must be pre-approved by both the relevant Dean and the Provost’s office.  Requests must be reviewed first by your Dean who will escalate requests to the Provost’s office. In particular, due to the financial impact of the pandemic, appointments funded by endowments require approval from the Provost’s office.
  • Federal grant guidance continues to permit paying postdocs/postgrads to ‘work from home’. However, previous pandemic flexibility provided by the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has expired, and postdocs/postgrads who are neither productive nor doing work that can directly benefit the funded project cannot be paid using federal funding sources. Please reference the most recent sponsored award FAQs for the most up to date guidance.
  • University policy stipulates that postdocs in the first year of their appointment cannot be terminated for financial reasons.
  • Early termination of a postdoc appointment will have significant implications for the postdoc, and may affect their health insurance, benefits, and have visa implications for those with non-immigrant status. Please give such decisions careful consideration, and note that postdocs must be notified in writing at least 90 days in advance that their appointment is being terminated.

If you have any questions about this guidance, please contact John Alvaro, Director of Postdoctoral Affairs (john.alvaro@yale.edu).

Thank you for all of your work to support the University in the current unprecedented situation.  We sincerely appreciate all of your efforts.

With all best,

Mike Crair
Vice Provost for Research

Lisa D’Angelo
Associate Provost for Research

For current information and university guidance related to the pandemic, please see Yale’s COVID-19 site.

To:  Deans and Lead Administrators
From:  Mike Crair, Vice Provost for Research
Lisa D’Angelo, Associate Provost for Research

Re: Updated Guidance Regarding Postdoctoral and Postgraduate Appointees

Recently Hired Postdoctoral & Postgraduate Appointees

Hires with start dates prior to November 1, 2020

  • If the person is already in the U.S., you may still want to consider delaying the start date if they are unable to physically relocate to New Haven, CT by the start of their appointment.
    • The faculty mentor should contact the appointee as soon as possible to discuss the possibility of delaying their start date.  
    • If the start date does change, notify abby.davi@yale.edu (School of Medicine) or alisa.paradise@yale.edu (FAS and all other schools) of the new start date and end date.  
    • Contact the OISS adviser for your department to see if there is a need to change the start date on any relevant immigration documents.

NOTE: If start dates have been changed, departmental administrative staff should secure updated funding and health insurance documentation for postdoc and postgrad fellows.

Hires with start dates after November 1, 2020

  • Whether the person is already in the U.S. or not, if the appointee is unable to physically relocate to New Haven, CT, by their appointment start date you should delay the start date.
    • The faculty mentor should contact the appointee as soon as possible to discuss the possibility of delaying the start date.   
    • If the start date does change, notify abby.davi@yale.edu (School of Medicine) or alisa.paradise@yale.edu (FAS and all other schools) of the new start date and end date.  
    • If the postdoc or postgrad is on a nonimmigrant visa, contact the OISS adviser for your department to see if there is a need to change the start date on the immigration document.

NOTE: If start dates have been changed, departmental administrative staff should secure updated funding and health insurance documentation for postdoc and postgrad fellows.

Extending Offers to New Postdoc/Postgrad Candidates:
If the funding for the appointment comes from a source other than an external grant or a start-up package/research account, offers of appointment must be pre-approved by the relevant Dean and Provost’s office.  In particular, due to the financial impact of the pandemic, appointments funded by endowments require final approval from the Provost’s office.  To request an approval, please send an email with the details of the appointment, the proposed funding source, and the rationale for the position to your dean for review.  The Dean will escalate approved requests to the Provost’s office.

Offers Not Yet Made or Accepted

  • Consider whether you want to cancel an appointment that has not yet been filled.  Remember that a postdoc in his/her first year of appointment in a lab may not be terminated for financial reasons. (Office of Postdoctoral Affairs; FAQ)
  • If you decide to move forward with a hire, we recommend using the language below for any new offer that will be extended:

Due to the uncertainty created by the global pandemic, we are unable to give you an exact start date. Your one-year appointment will begin on or after [proposed start date] and end on or after [proposed end date].

Reappointment of Current Postdoc or Postgrad:
If the funding for the reappointment comes from a source other than an external grant or a start-up package/research account, offers of appointment must be pre-approved by the relevant Dean and Provost’s office.  In particular, due to the financial impact of the pandemic, reappointments funded by endowments require final approval from the Provost’s office.  To request an approval, please send an email with the details of the reappointment, the proposed funding source, and the rationale for the position to your Dean for review.  The Dean will escalate approved requests to the Provost’s office.

A postdoctoral appointment carries no expectation of reappointment and does not automatically renew. However, if the faculty mentor decides not to reappoint a trainee, please provide the courtesy of notifying the trainee of the decision not to reappoint as far in advance as possible. Ordinarily, if a faculty mentor does not intend to renew a postdoctoral appointment, the faculty mentor will notify the appointee at least three months prior to the end of the appointment.

Termination of Current Postdoc or Postgrad Appointments:
We will continue to follow existing Yale policy for termination of postdoctoral or postgraduate appointments. If a postdoctoral appointment is terminated by the faculty mentor prior to the end of the appointment, the appointee must be notified in writing at least three months in advance. (Policies for Postdoctoral Appointments; 1.6 Notice of Termination)

Exception:  A postdoc in his/her first year of appointment in a lab may not be terminated for financial reasons. (Office of Postdoctoral Affairs; FAQ)

Considerations:  

  • If the departing postdoctoral/postgraduate appointee holds non-immigrant status (J-1, H-1B, TN etc.), the department must notify OISS.  As the regulations differ depending on the individual’s visa status, contact the OISS adviser for your department for specific guidance.   Generally:
    • J-1: If the individual has found a new research position at another institution, their J-1 status may be transferred to the new J-1 sponsoring institution; however, the transfer must happen before the termination date.  If the individual does not have a new position, they and any J-2 dependents will be given a 30-day grace period starting from the termination date. The grace period is to prepare their departure from the U.S. and not to continue their activities with Yale.  If they leave the U.S. and complete the current J-1 program, they will not be able to return to the U.S. for another J-1 research program for at least 24 months (the 24-month bar). 
    • H-1B/O-1/TN: Generally speaking, these work visas do not provide an automatic grace period.  If the appointee finds a new visa sponsor, the H-1B/O-1/TN transfer petition must be filed with USCIS by their new employer before their Yale termination date.  If they decide to stay in the U.S. without any H-1B/O-1/TN employment beyond the termination date, they should consult with an experienced immigration attorney for further guidance.  Their H-4/O-3/TD dependents may stay in the U.S. only when their H-1B/O-1/TN principal visa holders can legally stay.
    • Changing to another visa category may or may not be possible.  If they wish/have questions on the possibility, OISS may refer them to an immigration attorney.

Healthcare and other benefits:
Postdoctoral associate benefits terminate at the end of the month in which employment is terminated.

  • For example, if the termination date is January 20, benefits will end on January 31.
  • COBRA continuation of coverage will be offered immediately following the termination date.

Postdoctoral fellow benefits terminate at the end of the month in which employment is terminated.

  • For example, if the termination date is January 20, benefits will end on January 31.
  • Postdoc fellows are not employees.  However, they are eligible for continuation of medical coverage that is similar to COBRA but not governed by COBRA law. 

For benefits consultation, please contact Lauren Slater (lauren.slater@yale.edu) for Yale School of Medicine and Tim Aucoin (timothy.aucoin@yale.edu) for appointments outside of medicine.