Benefits for Postdoctoral Research Fellows

Postdoctoral Research Fellows (“Fellows”) at the University of Michigan are here to receive training from University of Michigan faculty, to prepare for future careers as researchers, and in many cases to become peers and colleagues of the faculty at U-M or elsewhere. Thus, it is the University’s intent, insofar as is possible, to administer the training experiences for all Research Fellows, regardless of their appointing department or source of financial support (i.e. salary or training grant stipend), similarly. This is especially true with respect to providing a uniformly family-friendly environment.

The University of Michigan extends benefits to all Fellows that reflect the institution's commitment to foster a family-friendly environment. These benefits may include: paid or unpaid periods of excused absence, adherence to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), access to on-site child care, child care tuition grants, child care information resources, and access to dependent coverage for health insurance.

This overview below is intended to provide general information regarding family-friendly benefits for Fellows.

Leave and Time Off

Paid Sick Leave

Research Fellows with year-long appointments are eligible for up to three (3) weeks per year of paid absence for personal illness, childbirth, childcare, injury, and family care.  Fellows who are either part-time (i.e. less than 100% effort) or who are appointed for at least six months but less than one year shall receive a pro-rata sick leave allowance. Department administrators should consult the relevant fellowship or training grant for details on the proper administration of time away from work.  Paid sick leave for fellows paid by fellowships (“scholar trainees”) should be as similar as possible to that of ‘employee trainees’, although the University must comply with the terms set out by the sponsoring agency.  Remember that the family-friendly initiatives at NIH, NSF and other federal funding agencies have been very influential in terms of making such time off available all Fellows.

Paid Extended Leave

Research Fellows are eligible for up to six (6) weeks per year of paid extended leave, if unable to fulfill responsibilities because of a qualifying disability, e.g., serious illness, serious injury or childbirth. A Fellow will become eligible for paid extended leave following a six-month period of employment as a Research Fellow, starting at the date of the first appointment. A Fellow returning from extended leave must remain at work for at least six months to renew the extended leave benefit. Paid extended leave may be utilized in combination with the annual vacation allowance and/or paid sick leave provisions of SPG 201.19.

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Salaried Fellows (who have formal appointments of 1% or greater, and are sometimes called employee trainees) who meet the eligibility requirements of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) are eligible under the FMLA to be absent from work without pay for up to twelve weeks in their FMLA benefit year for a qualifying event, with continuation of University contributions to insured benefit coverage during the period.  Scholar trainees (who have 0% appointments and are supported by fellowships) are not formally covered by FMLA. However, as a matter of University policy, such Fellows should also receive continuation of appointment and benefit coverage during the previously-established term of their appointment for up to 12 weeks when they experience the family and personal situations that would make other Research Fellows eligible for FMLA. As a result of family-friendly initiatives at many sponsoring federal agencies, many federal grants have provisions for how to administer a leave that is comparable to FMLA benefits for Scholar Trainees.  Consult the terms of the funding (Note that non-FMLA periods of absence exceeding the use of available sick leave and/or vacation time, if any, may result in the Research Fellow being responsible for all costs associated with continuation of health and other insurance programs).

Other Unpaid Periods of Absence  

Unpaid periods of absence during the appointment period resulting from short-term disabilities or other exigencies, including pregnancy and childbirth for those not meeting FMLA eligibility requirements, may be provided if such an arrangement would allow the Fellow, on return, to successfully complete their training plan prior to the previously-scheduled appointment end date and if they are consistent with sponsor requirements . Department administrators should consult provisions of sponsor agencies relevant to the specific fellowship or traineeship for details on the proper administration of such absences.

Flexible Schedule

A flexible schedule typically involves rearranging a standard schedule for a defined period of time.  It can be a compressed work week (e.g. work four 10 (ten) hour days), starting and ending workdays at different times, adjusted lunch breaks, or doing some work at home.

The availability of such accommodations may vary, based on the staffing and other needs of the appointing unit.  Consult with your PI or unit administrator.

Vacation

Research Fellows with year-long appointments are eligible for twenty-two (22) days of paid vacation annually.  Fellows who are either part-time (i.e. less than 100% effort) or who are appointed for at least six months but less than one year shall receive a pro-rata vacation allowance.  Paid vacation for fellows paid by fellowships (“scholar trainees”) should be as similar as possible to that of ‘employee trainees’, although the University must comply with the terms set out by the sponsoring agency.  Remember that the family-friendly initiatives at NIH, NSF and other federal funding agencies have been very influential in terms of making such time off available all Fellows.

Holidays and Season Days

All Fellows are granted time off without loss of pay or stipend for all University holidays observed during the appointment period. If operational exigency requires that time off cannot be granted during the holiday, an equivalent amount of time off should be provided during another period of time.   

All Fellows are granted time off without loss of pay or stipend during four (4) Season Days typically a between the days observed by the university as the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. If operational exigency requires that time off cannot be granted during the season day period, an equivalent amount of time off should be provided during another period of time.  

Child Care and Dependent Care

Children’s Centers

University of Michigan Children’s Centers currently serves children, ranging in age from infants to five years old. U-M Children’s Centers are located on and or near the Ann Arbor central and north campuses, close to the University of Michigan Health System, and on the campuses of U-M Flint and Dearborn.  

Help Finding Child Care

There are a variety of online resources available through the Work-Life Resource Center including regularly updated child care referral database containing licensed child care programs to match your needs.

Child Care Tuition Grant

The Child Care Tuition Grant (CCTG) is a University of Michigan program designed to assist low-income families with young children meet the cost of licensed child care at our central and north campus centers.  Eligibility for the Child Care Tuition Grant is determined by Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidelines. The program is funded by the Provost’s Office.  

U-M Family Helpers

The U-M Family Helpers program offers a listing of University of Michigan students who are available for:  child care; elder assistance; tutoring; pet sitting; house sitting; housekeeping; lawn care; running errands; and more.  Students listed on this site have cleared a State of Michigan criminal background check.  This website also has a “help wanted” feature where the U-M community can post the service they are seeking so a Family Helper can respond directly.  

Kids Kare at Home

Kids Kare at Home is a back-up child care program for families at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and UMHS. Kids Kare at Home gives you a back-up option when your child is sick and cannot be sent to school/child care; or your regular child care is not available (e.g. in-service day). Sliding scale rates (graduated according to family income) are available.  

Work-Life Resource Center

The Work-Life Resource Center is a starting point for members of the University community to learn about resources and tools to promote work/life balance. Members of the University - research fellows, full- or part-time faculty, staff or student - can receive support from the office at no charge.

Benefits

Benefit information for Research Fellows

Group Health Insurance

All fellows with a 0% or greater appointment funding (stipend, Special Purpose Funds or salary) for a minimum of four continuous months are eligible to enroll in U-M health insurance plans.

Note:  Fellows are required to enroll themselves and their dependents, as necessary, in the university group health and dental plans.  They receive the same rate structure that applies to University staff.)

Dental Plan

All fellows with a 0% or greater appointment funding (stipend, Special Purpose Funds or salary) for a minimum of four continuous months are eligible to enroll in U-M Dental Plan Options 1, 2, or 3.  

Vision Plan

All fellows with a 0% or greater appointment funding (stipend, Special Purpose Funds or salary) for a minimum of four continuous months are eligible to enroll in the U-M Vision Plan.  

MHealthy

All Fellows are eligible. MHealthy offers a variety of programs and services to help meet your health and wellness needs.  

Legal Plan

All Fellows are eligible.  The Legal Plan covers telephone advice, office consultation, and referral to a local attorney.  You can receive legal assistance with matters such as: wills and estate planning, real estate matters, family law matters, and document preparation.  

Travel Accident Insurance

All Fellows are eligible. Provides coverage for accidental death or permanent total disability when traveling while on official University of Michigan Business (excluding vacations and everyday travel to and from work). The university pays the full premium and you do not have to enroll in this coverage.  

Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account

Salaried Fellows (e.g. employee trainees) with a 1% or greater appointment for a minimum of four continuous months are eligible to participate. A Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA) allows you to set aside pre-tax money from your paychecks to pay for daycare expenses for your eligible dependents incurred so you can work, or if you are married, so you and your spouse can work, or your spouse can attend school full-time.   

Health Care Flexible Spending Account

Salaried Fellows (e.g. employee trainees) with a 1% or greater appointment for a minimum of four continuous months are eligible to participate.  A Health Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA) allows you to set aside pre-tax money from your paychecks to pay for certain medical expenses. Eligible expenses may have been incurred for you, your spouse, children, and any other person who is a qualified dependent under the Internal Revenue Code.  

Supplemental Retirement Account

Salaried Fellows (e.g. employee trainees) with a 1% or greater appointment of at least four months duration paid by the university are eligible to participate.   A Supplemental Retirement Account (SRA) can be established with TIAA or Fidelity Investments as a way to save more for retirement on a tax-deferred basis.

University, Optional, and Dependent Group Term Life Insurance

Salaried Fellows (e.g. employee trainees) with a 0% or greater appointment for a minimum of four continuous months are eligible to participate.  Options range from a university Plan provided to you paid for by the University; an Optional Plan that allows you to chose your coverage amount (up to a maximum) that is paid for by you; and a Dependent Plan that provides coverage for your spouse or other qualified adult or your dependent children that is paid for by you.  

Resources

Benefits and Dispute Resolution for Postdoctoral Research Fellows

Here are some resources for Postdoctoral Research Fellows that may be of help concerning employee-related problems or conflicts.

Postdoc Dispute Resolution Checklist

This checklist is intended to provide information about the dispute resolution process for Postdoctoral Research Fellows (referred hereafter as, Fellow(s). The information contained in this document is for consultation purposes only. Fellows should refer to the dispute resolution procedures in their unit for additional information.

A Fellow may contact the Rackham Ombuds to assist with informally resolving complaints prior to instituting a complaint through formal channels. The Ombuds provides confidential and informal assistance in resolving these conflicts and promotes fair and equitable treatment within the University. The Rackham Ombuds is also available to coach Fellows on how to manage conflict and discuss options for mediation. The Fellow may discuss issues and concerns with the Ombuds without committing to further disclosure or any formal resolution. Information concerning any visit will not be disclosed without the Fellow’s permission, absent a compelling reason (e.g., a court order or a potential threat to safety). You can contact the Rackham Ombuds by e-mail, or by phone, (734) 936-1647. Please remember that e-mail is not recommended for confidential discussions.

What to do if you have a dispute

  1. Make sure you understand your rights regarding the dispute resolution process.
    • It is the policy of the University of Michigan to provide an opportunity for Fellows to resolve disputes in a fair and collegial manner.
    • It is desirable for all parties to make serious efforts to resolve differences informally whenever possible.
    • No adverse action may be taken against me for the legitimate use of the dispute resolution process.
    • For information about resolution options or to obtain a copy of my unit’s dispute resolution procedures, I may approach my school’s dispute resolution contact or the Rackham Ombuds.
  2. When you should consider use of the dispute resolution process.
    • Dispute resolution procedures establish both an informal and a formal mechanism for Fellows to request review and resolution of certain disputes arising out of their academic relationships with their mentors, departments, school or college.
    • Issues may include academic advancement, interpersonal conflicts, attribution in publications, harassment, and policy clarification.
  3. What you should expect in the informal resolution process.
    • My options for informal resolution include first talking with my supervisor, approaching my units designated contact, or consulting with the Rackham Ombuds.
    • In some cases, informal resolution may not be an option due to the nature of the conflict or the allegations.
    • If informal resolution is unsuccessful, I may pursue resolution through my unit’s formal dispute resolution process.
  4. What you should expect in the formal resolution process.
    • In order to pursue formal dispute resolution, I must submit a written complaint.
    • In general, the written complaint should describe the alleged wrong, facts that support the allegations, the disposition of the matter at prior informal steps, and a description of the remedy sought.
    • I may submit a written complaint in person, via postal mail, fax, or e-mail.
    • My unit’s policy may have a statute of limitations for submitting a formal complaint.
    • My written complaint and all documents related to the complaint may be reviewed by the responding party.
    • I may not be able to appeal the outcome of a formal resolution.

In circumstances when other university policies and procedures apply to allegations of faculty and staff misconduct, such matters will be governed by appropriate policies administered under other university units.

No matter the circumstances, we encourage you to contact your unit designee or the Rackham Ombuds for assistance with any of the matters listed below.

Alleged research misconduct

Allegations of research misconduct by investigators (e.g., fabrication or falsification of research data or plagiarism) are governed by policies and procedures under the Office of the Vice President for Research.

Discrimination, harassment, or sexual misconduct

Allegations of discrimination, harassment, or sexual misconduct are handled through the Office of Institutional Equity|. The Office of Institutional Equity serves as a resource to the University community on issues of diversity, respect and inclusiveness, provides training on these issues as well as discrimination and harassment, investigates or provides assistance with discrimination and harassment complaints, and assists with reasonable accommodations for employees and general accessibility issues. See “Other Support Resources” for additional support services.

Intellectual property and/or conflict of interest

Intellectual property issues, including inventorship determinations and resolution of disputes are handled by the Office of Technology Transfer in the Office of the Vice President for Research.

Other Support Resources

At any time Postdoctoral Fellows may also seek assistance, information or referrals from the following offices:

Academic Human Resources (AHR)

For concerns related to the administration of the terms and conditions of Research Fellow appointments, assistance is available from the office of Academic Human Resources.

Phone: (734) 763-8938

Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FASAP)

Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FASAP) is a University of Michigan program that offers a number of services designed to help staff, faculty, postdocs and their immediate family members with personal difficulties encountered at both work and home. Services provided by FASAP include: Short-term counseling services on personal, emotional, family and workplace issues, including critical incident, trauma and grief counseling. Other services include personalized coaching to achieve professional or personal goals.

All services are free of charge and confidential. Contact the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program or call (734) 936-8660

Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC)

Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC) provides services for the U-M community related to sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, sexual harassment, and stalking. SAPAC offers crisis intervention, outreach, counseling, advocacy, consultation, training, awareness, and prevention. SAPAC services are free of charge and confidential, call (734) 998-9368 or the 24-hour Crisis Line at (734) 936-3333.

School/College Postdoctoral Fellow Dispute Resolution Policies

The Dispute Resolution Policies site provides Fellows with information regarding formal dispute resolution options available within University schools and colleges.