Appointing a Postdoctoral Fellow

Faculty Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that all steps are followed including the Letter of Invitation/Appointment and the Registration Form.

1. Determine the Definition for this PDF

Is this individual an External PDF or a Internal PDF?

This can be determined through the source of their funding. If their primary source of funding is an external source then they are an External PDF. If they are being funded through a Faculty members’ grant, then they are a Internal PDF

Please refer to the Postdoctoral Fellows Policy R 50.03 for more information. 

2. Appointment or Invitation

All PDFs require either a PDF Appointment Form regardless of their funding arrangement. Upon receiving the completed form, Faculty Relations will begin the administrative set-up of the PDF, which includes payroll and their Invitations / Appointment letter. 

External PDFs receive a Letter of Invitation and Internal PDFs receive a Letter of Appointment. The letter outlines the PDFs relationship to the University, and what benefits they may or may not receive. 

Policy R50.03 has recently undergone a significant number of changes. The processes to support the policy changes are currently under development. More information will be coming soon. In the meantime, requests for assistance can directed to:

3. Set-up Payment 

The next step is to ensure the PDF will be paid. There are three possible processes to follow at this stage, depending upon the PDFs funding arrangement:

a. Payroll for Internal PDFs will be initiated by Faculty Relations when processing PDF appointment form. No further steps are required by the department. 

b. Some External PDFs will have their funding sent to them directly from the external funding agency. In this case SFU is bypassed altogether and there is no need to process this PDF through the payroll office.

c. Some External PDFs will have their external funding administered by SFU, if the funding agency chooses to have SFU administer the funds on their behalf.

Processing a Notification of Award

If a funding agency would like SFU to administer a PDF’s fellowship on their behalf, then the official Notification of Award (NOA) should be sent to Research Accounting at the following address:

Leeann Liew, Manager, Research Accounting   ( )
Room 210, Discovery 2
Simon Fraser University
8888 University Drive
Burnaby, BC
V5A 1S6

A postdoctoral NOA will be processed by Vivian Poon in Research Accounting ( Research accounting must receive original signed documentation, so please use inter-campus mail (do not send signed documents electronically).

 Once a NOA is received, Vivian will need:

 1.     A copy of the application the PDF submitted to the external agency.

 2.     A complete and fully signed Non-Research Funding Application Signature Sheet (FASS), found here:

Please provide the following detail on the form:

  • The PDFs name and the faculty supervisor’s name should both be recorded on the form.
  • Under award type please write: “postdoctoral fellowship”.
  • In the budget section, if the fellowship is solely for salary, you can add the total annual amount in the “personnel salary costs”. If the award includes a research allowance that allowance can be recorded as “other direct costs”. No other line items need to be filled out.
  • The series of 11 checkboxes are not applicable to your fellowship (check “no”).
  • In the Special Requirements box you may want to write “Postdoctoral Fellowship”.
  • Four signatures are required on the form. Please write the name, the position of the individual, and then a signature. Four signatures are required (PDF, Supervisor, Departmental Chair, Dean of Faculty). There is no need for a signature from Legal Affairs. Research accounting will sign as “Financial Services” once they have your form.  As an example of the four necessary signatures:

Principal:  xxxx, PDF, (sign); xxxx, Faculty Supervisor, (sign)

Chair/Director: xxxx, Chair,  (sign)

Faculty Dean:  xxxxx, Dean,  (sign)

3.      Once research accounting has received the NOA, the cheque from the agency, and the completed and fully signed FASS (Non-Research Funding Application Signature Sheet), the account will be set up. Both the Faculty Supervisor and the Departmental Manager will receive a memo from research accounting regarding the new account.

4.     Usually the Departmental Manager or Department Assistant will fill out the Payroll Appointment Form (PAF). A copy of the External PDFs Letter of Invitation should be attached to the PAF and sent to research accounting. In the “Notes” (or comments section) of the PAF, the DM should write “This is not an employment relationship”, if this text is contained within the Letter of Invitation. For most External PDFs, the phrase “This is not an employment relationship” will be contained within the letter. This step is very important as it alerts the payroll team that this stipend should not be deducted CPP/EI, which an External PDF is not eligible for. Research accounting will forward the PAF to the payroll office.

Also, in order to ensure the PDF is covered by Workers Compensation Board, please ensure to check the box indicating Employment Income and NOT Scholarship Income.

  • Email, in the Office of Graduate Studies & Postdoctoral Fellows for any questions regarding these procedures or questions related to PDFs in general.
  • Contact Leeann, Manager, Research Accounting, for any inquires related to the set up of the external fellowship funds.
  • Contact Rose , Payroll Manager, with any questions in filling out the PAF or other PDF payroll inquiries.

*Sometimes a PDF will receive a combination of grant funding and external funding. In these cases the DM would create two separate FPP4 for payroll. The PDFs Letter of Invitation should be attached to the FPP4 when it is sent to the payroll office.

To summarize:

  • External PDFs may receive a cheque sent directly to them from the external granting agency (bypassing SFU administration altogether), or their fellowship may be sent to SFU to be administered as a bi-weekly stipend through the payroll office.
  • Internal PDFs will always receive their bi-weekly salary through the payroll office (as any other employee would).

4. Extending a Postdoctoral Fellowship

A renewal, or extension of the original dates is treated as a new appointment and needs to be communicated to Faculty Relations using the PDF Appointment Form. 

Policy R50.03 has recently undergone a significant number of changes. The processes to support the policy changes are currently under development. More information will be coming soon. In the meantime, requests for assistance can directed to: