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Postby Ellen » Mon Jan 17, 2005 12:09 pm

Dear all,

I took a postdoc research contract at a university in a different country that my own last February. The position is funded by a prominent European wide funding body. I was a little naïve in negotiating my contract and found to my cost that there were several factors that were not explained or covered within my contract. Firstly, my contract for a full 18 months was split into 3 parts for no apparent reason. Secondly, I was not informed that I was self employed and so there were no health insurance contributions from my employer. Thirdly, my taxes were extortionate, but will be returned at the end of the financial year (why I am having tax removed when I am self employed is beyond me). Finally, and most importantly, since my arrival my employers have decided to pay me on an ad hoc basis (some times I have waited up to 3 months for my wages). I asked for advice from the funding body and now I have received the 3rd part of my contract from the university which now explicitly states that the university can pay me whenever they feel like it as long as the full amount is paid by the end of the contract. I feel this is totally unacceptable as I have commitments (rent etc) that must be paid monthly and no other source of income. I am beginning to wonder whether I should sign it at all and instead cut my losses and return home. Can anyone offer me any advice?


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Postby Paul » Mon Jan 17, 2005 12:19 pm

Hi Ellen,

I know with european PhD positions that its fairly common for the funds to be paid quarterly (even 3 months) but your situation sounds ridiculous. Depending on the country you are actually in, you should be able to opt out of paying taxes

It sounds like you may need to help of an employment lawyer.

If you really feel in a bad situation then removing yourself is not suicide for your career. I took a post-doc position after my PhD that just didn't work out. The PI and I just never got on and it really was hell to work there. I stuck it out for a year and then left. In interviews I figured I might as well be honest and it completely paid off. The people I work for now were impressed at my honesty and saw the decision I made to leave as maturity. I do think I had to stick it out for that year though.

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Postby Ellen » Mon Jan 17, 2005 12:35 pm

Thanks for your advice Paul. My PhD was paid quarterly in ADVANCE though. For this postdoc they just seem to think I have a little money tree at home or rich parents or something (If only). I have been here a year now and I am currently trying to find a little time to write a grant application so I can leave at the end of the contract. I really enjoy the work, but not knowing when I'm going to get paid next is just a nightmare and my bank in my home country have already stopped all my cards and closed my accounts and made me promise to pay them - a promise that at the moment I cannot give them.


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