Postdoctoral Fellow Rights and Responsibilities

Postdoctoral appointments provide a level of professionalization and training beyond Ph.D. education. The Krieger School of Arts & Sciences and the Whiting School of Engineering at Johns Hopkins University are dedicated to providing a productive academic and research environment in which postdoctoral fellows can broaden and augment their scholarly abilities.

Emerging from discussions between the Homewood Postdoctoral Association and School leadership, this document is a declaration of the rights and responsibilities of postdoctoral fellows in the Krieger and Whiting Schools at Johns Hopkins University.

Pre-Entrance Health Forms Policy

As a matter of administrative process all new postdoctoral fellows are required to meet the University’s pre-entrance health requirements detailed on the Student Health and Wellness Center website (choose ‘Information for New Students’).

Compliance with the immunization requirements and screening tests listed on the website provided above must be completed prior to arrival on campus. Until a Pre-Entrance Health Form is on file and verified as in compliance, post-doctoral fellows will not be permitted to use the Health Center and will be considered out of compliance with University regulations.

Other Healthcare Information

If a postdoctoral fellow experiences a work-related injury — under these conditions, he or she should notify his or her supervisor immediately and contact the Homewood Office of Occupational Health Services at (410) 516-0450. This office provides immediate treatment for all work-related injuries and illnesses. If an injury should occur when the Office of Occupational Health Services is closed, postdocs should seek the appropriate medical treatment (including emergency services if needed) and follow-up with the Office of Occupational Health Services the next business day.

Postdoctoral Fellow Salary and Renewal Guidelines (WSE Only)

The Whiting School of Engineering uses the NIH salary guidelines as the benchmark for maintaining competitive and equitable postdoctoral fellow salaries.

For reference, the guidelines for postdoctoral salaries can be found by searching for “Stipend Levels for Postdoctoral Trainees” plus the current fiscal year, e.g. Stipend Levels for Postdoctoral Trainees 2017. Additional guidelines can be found here: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-12-033.html.

  • Requests made of the WSE Dean’s Office for new and renewal postdoctoral appointments with salaries below the recommended rate must include justification for the lower salary.
  • Renewals for postdoctoral fellow who are 6+ years past their PhD will have to be justified.
  • An updated CV must be included with all renewal requests.

Appointment and Reappointment Process

Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and Whiting School of Engineering postdoctoral fellowship appointment terms and initial paperwork are administered through specific departments and their affiliated faculty. Appointment letters are approved and sent from the appropriate Dean’s Office upon departmental approval. Upon acceptance of the appointment invitation, prospective international postdoctoral fellows will be given further information regarding the visa process.  Prospective postdoctoral fellows who have not yet completed their Ph.D. requirements at the time of the initial offer will need to show certification of their degree requirement completion prior to beginning their appointment with Johns Hopkins. Appointed postdoctoral fellows are encouraged to remain mindful of their fellowship appointment start and end dates and to speak with their Advisor/PI/Department Administrator at regular intervals to ensure future plans are clear at least 4-5 months in advance of their end date. If there is any chance of renewal, international postdoctoral fellows need to make an appointment with OIS 6 months ahead of time. It is the postdoctoral fellow’s individual responsibility to ensure they remain in visa compliance at all times.

KSAS and WSE Postdoctoral Fellow Appointment Adjustment, Renewal, Probation, and Termination Policy

The Krieger School of Arts and Sciences (“KSAS”) and the Whiting School of Engineering (“WSE”) full-time programs, centers and institutes establish the following policy for appointment renewals, adjustments and/or terminations for postdoctoral fellows (collectively referred to as “ASEN postdoctoral fellows”). This Policy addresses the procedures regarding the renewals or adjustments of postdoctoral fellow appointments; as well as the consequences of ASEN postdoctoral fellow underperformance, including probation and termination. This policy applies to all new and continuing ASEN postdoctoral fellows but does not apply to postdoctoral fellows in the Sheridan Libraries, Carnegie Institute, or any other non-KSAS/WSE division.

Policy: KSAS and WSE Postdoctoral Fellow Appointment Adjustment Renewal Probation and Termination Policy

Postdoctoral Leave of Absence Policy

Postdoctoral fellows are entitled to petition for a leave of absence (LOA) from their appointment. In order to do so, the postdoctoral fellow is expect to provide their respective Dean’s Office administrator with a letter of explanation addressing one of the permitted reasons a postdoctoral fellow would qualify for a leave of absence listed below. The final decision is made by the appropriate Dean’s Office.

Postdoctoral fellows may apply for up to one year of leave of absence or to the end of their postdoctoral appointment (which ever comes first) when medical conditions, compulsory military service, or personal or family hardship prevents them from continuing their postdoctoral fellowship. Leave of absence extensions are subject to funding availability and the approval of the principal investigator or advisor. However, since a leave of absence extends no more than a year, a new LOA application needs to be completed for additional leaves of absence.

For leave of absence, postdoctoral fellows need to provide a letter from their principal investigator and documentation as indicated for each particular situation:

  • Medical Condition: a letter from a physician (this may be a letter from a doctor at the Student Health and Wellness Center), or counselor/psychiatrist
  • Military Duty: a letter or verification from the Armed Forces
  • Personal or Family Hardship: a letter from the applicant

Note: While on leave of absence, postdoctoral fellows do not have campus privileges—access to University services or facilities and student employment. However, postdoctoral fellows on LOA are eligible for employment through the University’s Human Resources Office. Taking a leave of absence may affect a postdoctoral fellow’s Johns Hopkins Health Insurance. It is recommended that postdoctoral fellows interested in applying for a leave contact the Registrar’s Office to find out how their coverage will be affected should they be approved for a leave of absence. International posdoctoral fellows should consult with the Office of International Students and Scholars to understand visa implication of leave.

When returning from leave of absence, a postdoctoral fellow must complete and submit a letter of intent (to return) 10 business daysbefore returning to his/her appointment. The form must be accompanied by a letter (from one of the sources above) that explains what progress has taken place in the postdoctoral fellow’s absence that would enable him/her to be successful upon return.

For leave of absence in the Krieger School: Renee Seitz, Director of Graduate Academic Affairs, rseitz5@jhu.edu
For leave of absence in the Whiting School: Christine Kavanagh, Director of Graduate Academic Affairs, christinekavanagh@jhu.edu

Vacation and Sick Time

Krieger and Whiting postdoctoral fellows are not eligible to accrue and use vacation and sick days in the manner of full-time staff at Johns Hopkins, but are able to request time off within reason and take paid sick days.  The general practice has been to adhere to the policy of leave and vacation employed with graduate students (2 weeks of paid vacation every appointment/academic year).  Decisions regarding time off are largely under the purview of the primary advisor,  and a balance should be struck between the consideration of deadlines and deliverables and a postdoctoral fellow’s vacation plans.  Advisors may permit more than 2 weeks.  Postdoctoral fellows should communicate in advance (as soon as possible) with their primary advisor concerning any travel plans or planned absences, and are encouraged to document the request and approval (email is sufficient). As many times taking time for a sick day cannot be planned in advance, a postdoctoral fellow must reach out to their advisor as soon as possible to notify that they will be taking a sick day

Additional Policies