Description of Employment Contracts

Types of Employment Contracts

Congratulations on your forthcoming employment with Penn State’s Mathematics Department.  We look forward to working with you!  The purpose of this document is to clarify some aspects of the employment contract that we will be offering you, especially as it regards dates of starting and ending employment.

Standard Faculty Employment Contract


Most faculty members employed for a year or more will be offered a standard contract called a “36-week contract”.  This term reflects the fact that the effort that you perform is formally considered to occur during the fall and spring semesters.  Nevertheless, the pay that you receive is distributed over a 12-month period. 


All standard employment contracts for new faculty will begin on August 15 of the initial year of employment, and will terminate on June 30 of the final year of employment.  During the initial year you will receive 2/12ths of your annual salary in the first monthly pay period (end of August [contingent upon all necessary paperwork processed by the deadline]) and 1/12th in each subsequent pay period.  In later years of employment you will receive 1/12th of your annual salary each month.  This means that you will receive your correct total annual salary in each Penn State fiscal year, July 1 – June 30.


If you are on an existing fixed term contract and we elect to offer you a new contract for continued employment, that new contract will begin on July 1(and you will continue to receive 1/12th of your annual salary each month.)  Thus there will be no interruption of your pay and other Penn State benefits.


Because of the fact that effort on this contract is considered to be expended during the fall and spring semesters, it is permissible for you to receive additional compensation for duties performed over the summer.  These may include summer session teaching, or research activities.  In particular, this kind of contract is necessary if you plan to receive supplemental summer salary from a research grant (whether or not you are the Principal Investigator on the grant).  If you believe that you may apply for a grant or receive summer salary it is important to ensure that we write you this type of contract.


If you have sufficient research or other funds to cover your full salary for the period, it will normally be possible for you to receive a summer salary for the period July 1-August 14 after your regular employment ends.  In order to make this possible we would write a supplemental short-term contract covering these dates.  All arrangements for salary payments must be processed through our financial office.


Postdoctoral Scholars’ 48-week contract

The University also makes available a different kind of employment contract to “postdoctoral scholars”.  Because it involves some restrictions, we have recently tried to avoid using this kind of contract under any circumstances.  But it may be more appropriate to your particular case.  If so, please let us know.

The postdoc contract is a 48-week one, which means (after allowing for vacation days) that the effort expended is supposed to occur year-round.  Typically we would offer such a contract with a start date of August 15 and an end date (one or more years later) of August 14.  Under this contract you would receive 1/24 of your annual salary in the first pay period (end of August) and 1/12 in every pay period thereafter until 1/24 in the final August. You would not have so much money up front, but you would be paid for an extra month and a half at the end of the contract.


The advantage of this arrangement is that employment extends for a full year (or a number of years).  This can be helpful in obtaining an appropriate visa, for example.  The disadvantage of the arrangement is that you are not eligible for summer research support and cannot apply for a grant.  We want to encourage postdocs to apply for grant support, and this is the reason we have discouraged the use of this contract form.  However, if you think that it is more appropriate for you, please let us know at once.

Other Contracts

Short-term (less than one year) contracts are also available in appropriate circumstances.  They carry very limited benefits compared to the longer-term contracts discussed above.

I am always willing to discuss unusual circumstances and try to assist, but we are unlikely to offer long-term contract arrangements different from the two possibilities discussed above, unless the situation is truly exceptional.   



John Roe

October 26, 2010