Extensions for postdocs due to the coronavirus pandemic

Guidelines for extensions for postdocs due to the coronavirus pandemic. July 2021.

Norsk versjon: Forlengelse for postdoktorer på grunn av korona

Background #

Since March 2020, the pandemic has placed constraints on postdocs. A letter dated 17 June 2020, the Ministry of Education and Research (KD) describes the possibilities for extending the appointment of postdocs who have experienced delays due to the coronavirus pandemic. Any extension granted to a postdoc must be grounded in Section 2-3 (6) of the Regulations concerning terms and conditions of employment for the posts of postdoctoral research fellow, research fellow, research assistant and resident [spesialistkandidat], even though the provision only refers to employed PhD candidates.

The aim of the guidelines on extensions for postdocs is to clarify the factors that may justify an extension due to the pandemic. This information is a guide to postdocs, academic, supervisors, managers, and executive officers in questions about extension.

Extended period of employment due to the pandemic #

As a first step in assessing the need for an extension, the postdoc and academic supervisor have a joint responsibility to consider revising project plans as far as possible to reduce any potential delay. At the same time, NTNU is responsible for making sure that the prerequisites for completing planned activities are in place, such as information about the use of laboratories, offices and other necessary infrastructure. If a postdoc is nevertheless delayed, it is possible to apply to the relevant appointment authority for an extension on the grounds of Section 2-3 (6) of the Employment Regulations. In connection with a potential extension, an individual assessment must be made for each postdoc.

The postdoc is encouraged to have an initial meeting with their academic supervisor to discuss the factors that might justify an application before submitting the application. After this, get in touch with the contact person at the faculty or department for more details about procedures for submitting an application. (See the separate section on administrative procedures at each faculty). A statement from the postdoc’s academic supervisor – see Section 1-2 (7) of the Regulations – must be submitted with the application, and it will be natural to use tools such as career plans (wiki page at Innsida) and appraisal interviews as supporting input for consideration of an extension.

If a postdoc is absent from work due to the coronavirus pandemic, this may trigger the right to an extension. To document absence, the postdoc must inform their employer in accordance with the department’s procedures for absence and register their absence in the HR portal/Paga, regardless of whether the absence entitles the candidate to an extension. Undocumented absence does not entitle the candidate to an extension.

Under the Public Administration Act (with unofficial English translation), an application should be processed within about a month, or a preliminary response should have been received. If there is no reply to the application within a month, the postdoc is recommended to contact an HR staff member at the faculty or department (see the administrative procedures for more information). The faculty is responsible for ensuring an independent assessment of appeals against a rejected application for an extension.

Guidelines for equal treatment of postdocs #

NTNU wants to strive for equal treatment of postdocs so that everyone with the same needs is granted the same extension. To ensure equal treatment, NTNU has drawn up a guide for assessing extensions due to the coronavirus pandemic in accordance with Section 2-3 (6) of the regulations.

A prerequisite for granting an extension is that the pandemic has resulted in a delay in the postdoc’s research work due to major obstacles and that compensatory measures have been considered. If compensatory measures have not been implemented, the reason for this must be given.

Examples of major obstacles include: #

  • Lack of or reduced access to research infrastructure such as laboratories, data collections, and libraries
  • Reduced opportunity for fieldwork, visits to archives, data collection and the like
  • Mandatory work from home that entails a demanding work situation
  • Care of children and close family
  • For people in risk groups, access to research infrastructure, campus offices and the opportunity for fieldwork, etc. may depend on medical advice. In such cases, this may be a key factor in the consideration of a possible extension.

For some of the obstacles, the following factors for consideration have been formulated to help with the assessment: #

  • Access to research infrastructure
    • Duration
    • Scope for performing other tasks/adjusting the project or time schedule
  • Fieldwork/visits to archives, etc.
    • How central the visit, stay or excursion is for the project
    • Scope for changing the project/adjusting the schedule
  • Delays due to mandatory work from home
    • Demanding work situation at home (noise, children, equipment, and Internet)
    • What has been done to compensate for this?
    • Duration
    • Frequency

In principle, no compensation is granted if the candidate has chosen to work from home when the employer has enabled presence on campus, even if the situation for working from home is otherwise covered by the assessment criteria.

  • Care of children and close family

Postdocs with caring duties for children who are at home because the child is ill or in mandatory quarantine/waiting quarantine are in principle entitled to an extension for absence of more than ten working days. A prerequisite for this is that the absence complies with the applicable regulations for care benefit days, has been agreed with the manager and is continuously registered in the HR portal/Paga.

 Exception:

  • Single parents or where the spouse/partner works in a function essential to society – see the Government’s 15 defined critical areas (English summary available here) – are entitled to an extension from day 1 of the absence period. Documentation from the partner’s employer must be provided showing that the partner has a critical function according to the criteria.
  • In principle, postdocs who need to reduce their hours of work to care for children must apply for leave. The same applies if the cause of the reduced position is related to the pandemic.
  • Postdocs with extraordinary caring responsibilities for close family members can apply for compassionate leave. If the period of care is related to the pandemic either in extent or as a complicating factor, it is possible to apply for an extension due to the added burden. Documentation may be required.

Administrative procedures at the faculties #

Faculty of Architecture and Design (AD): You may use this form to apply for an extenstion of ypur employment. For questions or more information plese contact hr@ad.no.

Faculty of Humanities (HF)

Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering (IE): Please contact your local HR-employee for more information. (If you do not know who this is contact Signe Johanne TalukderWenche M. Olsen eller Kenneth Hågensen at the faculty level.)

Faculty of Engineering (IV): Please contact your local HR-employee for more information.

Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (MH)

Faculty of Natural Sciences (NV)

Faculty of Social and Educational Sciences (SU): Please contact HR Manager Kristin Skogen for further information.

Faculty of Economics and Management (ØK): For further information, please see ØK’s own wiki page.

NTNU University Museum (VM): Please contact HR Manager Christen Torvik for further information. 

See also: #

Extensions for PhD candidates due to the coronavirus pandemic

Changes in the PhD regulations due to the coronavirus pandemic

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