"negotiating" unused vacation when terminating a postdoctoral appointment

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"negotiating" unused vacation when terminating a postdoctoral appointment

Postby Lara M. » Sun Feb 22, 2015 1:39 am

Dear forum members,

I could do with some advice. I have been a postdoctoral fellow for a little over a year in a lab. Initially I joined the group to work on a project that never took off because my PI had a fight with the collaborator that was supposed to deliver a fancy in vivo disease model I would use. The collaboration went sour, but I was able to come up with an idea to test the project hypothesis in vitro. That led to an interesting disvovery and a manuscript that is pretty much ready for submition (all figures done, writing underway).

This was my second postdoc and I was very hardworking: published a paper, got a fellowship, presented results both at national and international conferences, worked evenings, weekends & all. In the past 13 months I took 5 days off, and had a verbal agreement with the PI to carry my other 5 days over this year and take them off after sumitting the paper.

The fact that I wasn't able to work on the in vivo model made this postdoc a real waste of my time. Realistically I have no chances in academia anymore. In any case, I have both a great interest and experience in working in research funding management. A few weeks ago I saw a very interesting job posting and applied. Eventually I got the job and decided to accept it. It fits my background, career goals, has a terrific benefit package and salary and is very stable (government sector). There was little room to negotiate the start date, but I was able to negotiate other terms (vacation, salary etc.). I told my PI about it, gave a very professional and polite three week notice and asked to take my 5 days off before my departure.

The PI went on to say that there were no records of 5 days off left. She is known to be a difficult person, has a terrible reputation with postdocs, grad students, University personel and other PIs. She also suggested I coukd lose first authorship in the paper (no one else worked on it).

I have worked hard to try to make the best of the situation (the collaboration didn't work out, leaving me without a work tool); I need a break before starting the new job and I am tired.

At my University postdocs are not employees; there are no records of vacation days because it is all about verbal agreements.

Any advice on how to handle this (get my days off, but remain professional) will be greatly apprecuated. Thanks!

Lara M.
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2015 1:02 am

Re: "negotiating" unused vacation when terminating a postdoctoral appointment

Postby Dick Woodward » Sun Feb 22, 2015 1:05 pm


Given the rather informal nature of post-doctoral vacations, perhaps the easiest way of dealing with this is to just finish out the three weeks, and then close the door on this chapter of your career. You don't need issues with the PI on your mind when learning your new job.

Good luck,

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Dick Woodward
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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:29 pm

Re: "negotiating" unused vacation when terminating a postdoctoral appointment

Postby L. B. Gage » Mon Feb 23, 2015 12:15 pm


Totally agree with Dick. Just finish it off strong and do everything to keep the "working" relationship with the PI. You never know when you might need her reference at some point in future. Five days of work is a small price to pay for the big opportunity cost currently at risk here.

Good luck!
L. B. Gage
Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2015 5:22 pm

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