Postdoctoral Fellows

Date : 2019-04-16
Instance of approval: Executive Committee of the Board of Governors
Originating/Responsible Department: Office of the Vice-President, Resources

1. Purpose

The purpose of this Policy is to address the status of Postdoctoral Fellows (“PDFs”) at the University of Ottawa, set out underlying principles with respect to such status, and describe the categories and employment conditions. This Policy applies to all PDFs who perform scholarly activities at the University and at research institutes associated with or recognized by the University.

2. Context

The University considers PDFs as an integral part of the University community and contribute significantly to its mission. As trained researchers, PDFs have the opportunity to make significant contributions to both the research environment of the University and to their chosen research field. PDF appointments are viewed by the University as additional training in order to gain experience for a full-time academic or research career, to strengthen one’s publication record and broaden one’s research expertise.

3. Mandatory registration and compliance with University policies and procedures

In order to obtain a PDF status with the University, an individual must register with the Office of the Vice-Provost, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (“OVPGPS”). The PDF status enhances the value of their training experience, provides opportunities for them to deepen their expertise, and enables the individual to access campus services, including library services, health services, sports facilities, information technology services and programs offered for PDFs at the University’s Centre for University Teaching. The registration with OVPGPS does not grant the individual with a University student status.

All PDFs must comply with all relevant University policies and will acknowledge their PDF status with the University in their publications and in their participation in scholarly meetings and endeavors.

4. Status of PDFs

Effective July 1, 2019, all PDFs paid in whole or in part by internal sources of funding (see meaning of below) will be considered by the University as employees of the University.

Internal Sources of Funding: The expression internal sources of funding when used in this Policy or procedure encompasses all funds administered by the University of Ottawa, including:

  • a) Operational Funds: A fellowship paid from the University’s operational funds.
  • b) Research and Other Restricted Funds: A fellowship paid from the supervisor’s grant or contract.
  • c) Award Fellowship: A fellowship awarded directly to the PDF by a granting agency that will be administered by the University.

Although recognized by the University as having a PDF status, PDFs who are affiliated with another institution and who are not paid in whole or in part by internal sources of funding do not have an employer/employee relationship with the University and are not considered employees of the University.

The terms and conditions of a PDF appointment that is considered to be a PDF Employee as defined in Section 6 a) of this Policy are set out in Section 7 of this Policy.

5. Underlying Principles for the appointment of all PDFs

  • a) PDFs must have been awarded a PhD, or equivalent, no more than 5 years immediately preceding his or her initial registration as a PDF.
    • The date of degree completion is used as the commencement date to determine the 5-year period. This is the date on which the degree requirements were met, including successful defense and submission of the final corrected version of the thesis;
    • Some external granting agencies require that the PhD degree be completed no more than 2 years before the first registration as a PDF. The PDF and supervisor are responsible for verifying and respecting regulations of any granting agency;
    • This 5-year period may be extended for recipients of postdoctoral fellowships from external agencies recognized by the University if the agency’s eligibility period differs from that of the University;
    • Interruptions, delays or post-degree training in post-PhD cumulative experience may be taken into account in determining eligibility;
    • Valid interruptions include but are not limited to maternity/parental leave, illness, or health-related family responsibilities. With proper documentation, each situation will be assessed on a case-by-case basis by the OVPGS.
  • b) The minimum length of the first PDF appointment at the University is 6 months.
  • c) The maximum length of a PDF appointment cannot exceed 5 years after the start of his/her first PDF appointment at the University or elsewhere. The Vice-Provost, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies may approve an extension of a maximum of 2 years.
    • Some external granting agencies approve only 2- or 3-year PDF appointments. It is the responsibility of both the supervisor and the PDF to check the regulations of the granting agency.
  • d) The PDF and supervisor must sign an intellectual property and confidentiality agreement prior to registration with the OVPGS.
  • e) The PDF must complete the suite of mandatory training modules prescribed by legislation and the University.

6. PDF Appointments

All PDFs registered with the Office of the Vice-Provost, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (“OVPGPS”) at the University have a PDF status and the individual having a PDF status shall hold one of the following appointments:

  • a) PDF Employee Appointment: an individual holding a PDF Employee Appointment (“PDF Employee”) is paid in whole or in part by internal sources of funding as defined in Section 4 of this Policy. There is an employer/employee relationship between the PDF and the University. Employment conditions are set out in this Policy and are subject to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 of Ontario as may be amended from time to time and any applicable successor legislation (the “ESA”) and any other applicable employment laws in Ontario;


  • b) PDF Affiliated Appointment: an individual holding a PDF Affiliated Appointment (“PDF Affiliate”) is not an employee of the University. A PDF Affiliate is not paid by the University. The PDF Affiliated Appointment is not funded by internal sources of funding, as defined in Section 4 of this Policy. The PDF Affiliated Appointment is wholly funded by an external institution, agency or entity associated with or recognized by the University with funds not administered by the University. The University does not offer to or provide PDF Affiliates with any employee benefits. The registration with OVPGPS is for academic reasons only and does not establish and is not construed or treated as an employer/employee relationship between the PDF Affiliate and the University.

7. Employment Conditions for PDF Employees

Temporary Appointment
All PDF Employee Appointments are dependent on availability of funds and are not a source of continuing permanent employment with the University.

Upon hiring, PDF Employees are subject to a probation period of 6 months. The purpose of the probation period is to give the supervisor of the PDF Employee an opportunity to evaluate the PDF Employee’s performance, progress and skills and at the end of the probation period, determine whether the PDF Employee may continue or not for the duration of the PDF Employee Appointment set out in the PDF Employee’s employment contract.

Performance Evaluation
The supervisor will establish the PDF Employee’s responsibilities and objectives and will provide the PDF Employee with:

  • a 6 month probationary evaluation
  • subsequent yearly evaluations
  • an end of employment evaluation

An Individual Development Plan (IDP) must be developed by the PDF Employee and the supervisor to define and communicate to the PDF Employee the expectations for the duration of employment. The IDP will be used to evaluate the PDF Employee’s performance on a yearly basis and at the end of the PDF Employee’s employment contract.

Mandatory Training and Orientation
All PDF Employees must complete the suite of mandatory training modules prescribed by legislation and/or as required by the University. It is the responsibility of the supervisor to ensure that PDF Employees under their supervision complete the appropriate and prescribed safety training pertinent to their research area.

The minimum compensation for a PDF Employee is determined by the University on an annual basis and is set at 1,820 hours per year normally averaging a 35 hours per week schedule. This minimum compensation is reviewed annually and approved by the Provost and Vice-President, Academic Affairs, the Vice-President, Resources, and the Vice-President Research.

Statutory Deductions
Compensation paid to PDFs are subject to required statutory deductions which will be administered in accordance with legislated requirements and standards. The employer’s portion will be charged to the internal source of funding from which the PDF Employee Appointment is funded.


Extended Health Care and Basic Dental Benefits: Effective July 1, 2019, PDF Employees must enroll in the extended health and basic dental benefit. PDF employees will be responsible for a portion of the co-insurance costs. The employer’s portion of premiums will be charged to the internal source of funding from which the PDF Employee Appointment is funded.

Pension: PDF Employees are not eligible for participation in any of the University of Ottawa Pension Plans.

Paid Holidays
PDF Employees will be entitled to the following eleven (11) recognized paid holidays:
New Year’s Day, Family Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Civic Holiday, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Monday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Vacation and Paid Days during Christmas period
PDF Employees will be eligible for 10 days of vacation with pay. It is the responsibility of the PDF Employee and supervisor to ensure that annual vacation allotment will be taken in the year that it is earned and no accrued vacation from previous year may be carried to the next year without approval in writing from the supervisor.

In addition, the PDF Employee is entitled to the year-end paid days starting at the end of the workday on December 22 until the beginning of the workday on January 3, up to the last day of their employment contract. If January 3 falls on a Saturday or a Sunday, PDF Employees return to work at the beginning of the first working day following January 3.

Sick Leave
PDF Employees earn 1 day of sick leave per month up to a maximum of 12 days per year. A maximum of 12 days sick leave not taken will be carried forward to the next year, but at no time will a PDF Employee’s accumulated sick leave exceed 12 days. The sick leave year is January 1 to December 31. It is the responsibility of the PDF Employee and supervisor to ensure that sick leave is administered in accordance with this Procedure. Any sick leave not taken at the end of the PDF Employee employment contract will be lost with no compensation.

Sick leave with pay is granted only for employee illness, injury or medical emergency. Employees must inform their supervisor of their inability to attend work prior to the commencement of each scheduled work period, unless the PDF Employee provides the University’s Health and Wellness Sector with a medical certificate confirming an expected date of return to work. Employees must notify their supervisor of their intention to return to work prior to reporting.

PDF Employees who have been absent due to injury or illness or medical emergency may, at the University’s discretion, be required to report to Health and Wellness Sector prior to their return to work in order to ensure that they are fit to resume the duties and responsibilities of the PDF Employee Appointment.

PDF Employees are not eligible or entitled to receive long-term disability benefits.

Occupational Health and Safety
The University is committed to meet the requirements of health and safety legislation, safety standards and of University health and safety policies and procedures. PDF employees shall adhere at all times to University policies.
Workplace Safety and Required Reporting
If a PDF Employee is injured in a workplace accident or occupational illness while carrying out his or her duties at the University, an Accident, Incident or Occupational Disease form shall be completed within 24 hours of the accident and sent to the Health and Wellness Sector of the University.

Maternity and Parental Leaves
PDF Employees may rely on the benefits provided under the legislation of the PDF Employee’s province of residence. The provisions of the ESA will continue to apply, including the requirement to maintain the PDF Employee Appointment of the person available until the end of the PDF Employee’s original employment contract. PDF Employees who take maternity/parental leave are not eligible for University top-up benefits.

A PDF Employee going on maternity/parental leave may continue to participate in the extended health and dental benefits during the leave period in accordance with the ESA. Continuous service and vacation leave continue to accrue during the maternity/parental leave until the end of the PDF Employee’s employment contract.

The PDF Employee shall provide written notification at least one (1) month in advance of the anticipated start date and will include the anticipated return to work date. The PDF Employee shall reconfirm the return to work date previously approved by the University at least four (4) weeks in advance thereof.

The PDF Employee’s employment contract may be terminated as follows:

  • a) by the PDF Employee for any reason by giving the University reasonable advance notice in writing of the resignation. The University reserves the right to waive the resignation notice, in whole or in part by providing the PDF Employee with continuation of regular salary, vacation accrual and all benefits for the period waived;
  • b) by the University, for just cause, without notice of termination or pay in lieu of notice or severance pay (as applicable); however, the University will provide the PDF Employee with any entitlements that are minimally required by the ESA. Just cause refers to circumstances in which the PDF Employee acts in a manner that is contrary to the PDF Employee’s obligations as an employee to the University and to the terms and condition of the PDF Employee Appointment, or for any other reason as otherwise determined by the law constitutes just cause for dismissal;
  • c) by the University, for any reason without cause, by providing the PDF Employee with working notice or payment in lieu of notice and severance (as applicable) and all other entitlements in accordance with and limited to the minimum requirements of the ESA. Such notice or payment in lieu of notice is inclusive of any common law entitlements.

During the ESA minimum statutory notice period, the University will pay the cost of the usual employer cost of the extended health and dental insurance premiums to maintain benefits coverage and the PDF Employee shall continue to make the usual employee contributions by way of deduction from regular wages from the University during the statutory notice period. The University will pay the PDF Employee an amount representing any unpaid wages to the date of termination of the PDF Employee’s employment as well as any unused annual leave and vacation leave accrued to the end of the ESA statutory notice period, less applicable deductions.

8. Application, interpretation and review

The Application, interpretation and periodic review of this Policy are the responsibility of the Vice-Provost Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and the Associate Vice-President, Human Resources.

9. Amendments

Amendments to this Policy shall require the approval of the Executive Committee of the Board.