Working overtime

New federal rule would have paid some postdocs overtime for working late.

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NIH says it will raise postdoc salaries, despite threats to overtime rule

Republicans in Congress have vowed to roll back a controversial new rule expanding the number of workers eligible for overtime pay when President-elect Donald Trump takes office in January 2017. And a federal judge has already blocked implementation of the rule, which covers postdoctoral researchers and was supposed to take effect on 1 December.

But the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, says that, regardless of those developments, it will move ahead tomorrow with its plan to raise the stipends of certain biomedical postdocs so they aren’t affected by the rule.

The overtime rule, released this past May, requires overtime pay for workers earning less than $47,476—more than what many postdocs earned at the time. In response, NIH announced this past August that it would increase the starting stipends of postdoctoral fellows on the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards (NRSA)—one of NIH’s bread-and-butter training awards—to $47,484 from $43,692. It also offered a one-time supplement for grant recipients to meet the pay difference. (NIH did not offer specific guidance regarding pay for postdocs funded through non-NRSA avenues.)

Now, despite the political and legal drama around the rule, NIH is sticking with its plan, Michael Lauer, NIH’s deputy director for extramural research, wrote in a blog post on 23 November. “If there are any changes, we will alert the community,” Lauer wrote ScienceInsider in an email.

Some Republicans in Congress have said they would like to overturn the overtime rule early in the next Congress that convenes in January by using a rarely invoked law called the Congressional Review Act (CRA). But that might require lawmakers to adjourn earlier next month than they had originally planned, so that the regulation becomes vulnerable to disapproval under the CRA.