Postdocs: employees or not?

In your article on postdoc working conditions you quote Keith Micoli of the National Postdoctoral Association as saying that the wording of a NIH National Research Service Award "prohibits institutions from classifying fellowship recipients as employees."

Stephen Apfelroth(Stephen.Apfelroth@nbhn.net)
Apr 10, 2005
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In your article on postdoc working conditions you quote Keith Micoli of the National Postdoctoral Association as saying that the wording of a NIH National Research Service Award "prohibits institutions from classifying fellowship recipients as employees."1 I believe that Micoli is repeating a bit of widely used administrator misinformation on this point.

The NIH policy only provides that a postdoc is not required to be an employee in order to receive the grants.2 It does not say that a postdoc cannot be an employee for the purpose of benefits. With a provision added after years of pressure, the NIH now specifically provides that health insurance can be reimbursed up to $3,000 per year.

Originally the language "not provided as a condition of employment" was for the purpose of claiming non-taxability of scholarships. Since the Tax Reform Act of 1986, this is no longer possible. However, many institutions have...

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