Postdoctoral Researchers

Visit this page for human resources tools and tips relating to postdoctoral researchers. Topics include general policies, visa and benefits information, and advice for new employees.

Academic Appointment Processing Times

  • Academic appointments must be approved by the Vice Chancellor for Research before the Scholar can begin working.
  • The appointment request material should be provided to Team 9 Human Resources four weeks prior to the proposed start date to allow ample time for approval.  Additional time will be needed if a visa is required.
  • If you want to appoint an international scholar who requires a visa, please contact your HR Generalist as soon as possible.

Postdoc Definition

Applicants must satisfy all of the following specifications:

  • The postdoc must possess a Ph.D. or foreign equivalent.
  • The proposed appointment may not total more than five years of service in this title, including previous postdoctoral experience (post-Ph.D. research) at other institutions. Extenuating circumstances, including health and family care, can justify exceptions to this requirement.
  • The postdoc must have an institutional source of funding, e.g., fellowship, traineeship, or equivalent external support.
  • The postdoc must pursue a program of research and training under the direction of a faculty member, with approval of an academic department or organized research unit (ORU) and registration with the VSPA Program.
  • The postdoc may not have been employed as an assistant professor, associate professor, or professor.
  • Postdoc appointments are normally one year long. Initial appointments must be for a minimum of one year. With the concurrence of the postdoc and in some circumstances, reappointments may be for less than one year.


  • Postdoc Employee (Job Code 3252): When (1) the agency funding the salary requires or permits the appointee to be an employee of the University, or (2) whenever General Funds, Opportunity Funds or other University discretionary funds are used to support the position.
  • Postdoc Fellow (Job Code 3253): When the Scholar has been awarded a fellowship or traineeship for postdoctoral study by an extramural agency and the fellowship or traineeship is paid through a University account.
  • Postdoc Paid Direct (Job Code 3254): When the Scholar has been awarded a fellowship or traineeship for postdoctoral study by an extramural agency and the agency pays the fellowship or traineeship directly to the Scholar, rather than through the University. Such appointments shall have a “without-salary” status.

Please see the Visiting Scholar and Postdoc Affairs (VSPA) web site for more information on guidelines for prospective Postdocs.

University of California Postdoctoral Scholars are exclusively represented by The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW). The Collective Bargaining Agreement ratified August 11, 2010 can be found at the At Your Service website.

Postdoctoral Appointment Application and Approval Process

Information needed from PI:

Completed Postdoc Authorization Form for either Employee and Fellow/Paid Direct appointments (signed copy indicating dates, rate of pay, fund source, and research description)

Effective June 1, 2011, new postdoc appointments must be made at or above the appropriate Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) stipend experience level.

Information needed from Postdoc:

  • Current curriculum vitae (CV) listing all research experience since receipt of Ph.D.
  • Copy of Ph.D. Certificate (please include English translation if applicable)
  • For Paid Direct and Fellows, Notice of Award from funding agency
  • If a visa is required, please contact your HR Generalist for more information on the application process and required supporting documents

Once the appointment has been approved, the scholar will be contacted to set up an intake appointment to complete the necessary hiring paperwork. An offer letter will be provided prior to the start date of appointment. Please see the Helpful Information for New Postdoc Hires for citizens and permanent residents or for international scholars for benefits and privileges once hire paperwork has been completed.

Postdoc Benefits

Visit the Garnett-Powers and Associates web site for information on plan options and forms.

Postdocs can enroll online on the At Your Service (AYS) enrollment tool during their initial 31-day period of eligibility (PIE) from the date of hire. They can use the AYS website to make changes during open enrollment (including adding dependents or changing plans).

Those who wish to enroll in their benefits plans online should follow these instructions:

  1. Go to the At Your Service website located here
  2. Choose the Sign into my accounts icon
  3. Enter your social security number and password.

NOTE: The initial default password is the postdoc’s birthday in an eight digit format (mmddyyyy). Once you have entered this information, you will be prompted to customize your password. If you have problems with the password, please contact Sheila Taliaferro in Benefits at 643-7986 or via email at

  1. Once logged in, choose Enroll in Benefits under Health and Welfare
  2. Once you click on Enroll in Benefits an instruction screen will appear helping guide you through the enrollment process.
  3. Once the enrollment process is complete, be sure to confirm.
  4. After you confirm the enrollment a confirmation screen will appear indicating the actions you took. This screen will include a confirmation number. Please print this screen for your records.
  5. You will also receive an email confirmation from At Your Service.

Changes other than initial enrollment and open enrollment need to be done via the paper process initiated at the Garnett-Powers & Associates PSBP website. You must fill out the enrollment form and the beneficiary form, print them out, sign and return them to your RES HR Generalist for processing. It takes approximately one month for HealthNet to send you enrollment information so if you have an immediate need to see a doctor, contact your HR Generalist and we will get the carrier to expedite your enrollment.

The paper process will also need to be used for the following actions:

  • Any action for postdocs who do not yet have a Social Security Number
  • Adding or changing spouse's information when the spouse does not have a Social Security Number
  • Changes outside of initial enrollment or open enrollment such as qualifying events (e.g. newborn or adopted child, spouse loses coverage etc.)
  • Postdoc misses the initial 31-day Period of Initial Enrollment (PIE).  Enrollment after the PIE requires exceptional permission.