- Information for starting postdoc fellows as a practical guidance 2023
- HR strategy of FWO
- Opportunities within your fellowship, related to your later (research) career
As an FWO postdoctoral researcher, you are required to submit an interim report on the research activities carried out after approximately one year. Shortly after the end of your fellowship you must submit an ex post report to the FWO.
The FWO will share the reporting template in your e-portal shortly after the start of your fellowship. At that time, you will also receive a message about this with the exact reporting modalities.
More information concerning FWO’s reporting policy can be found on a dedicated webpage.
The FWO has taken a number of measures to compensate some consequences researchers of an FWO fellowship have encountered since Corona.
- A single completed and signed copy of the employment contract which will be sent to you in mid-July.
- Employment certificates from your former employer(s) so as to be able to determine your seniority.
- If you are not of Belgian nationality: a copy of your identity card and residence permit.
- If you are married: an extract from the marriage certificate, with mention of the occupancy of your spouse.
- If you are legally cohabiting: “proof of receipt of the legal cohabitation declaration” issued by the Civil Registrar in the municipality of residence, with mention of the occupation of your partner.
- If you have a dependent spouse or legal cohabiting partner: a certificate from your health insurance fund proving that he/she is registered with you.
The fellowship may be suspended:
1. During the period of prolonged sickness leave, pregnancy leave, breastfeeding leave, parental leave, palliative leave or leave for medical assistance. In these cases the fellowship will be extended by the period during which no payments were received.
Extensions of less than two weeks will not be taken into consideration.
Postdoctoral fellows (start date before 01/10/2019):
For an application for a subsequent fellowship to be submitted competitively to the FWO and to allow the fellowship to be continued without interruption, a first fellowship will be extended until the end of the academic year, if during the first fellowship full-time suspensions of consecutive periods of 3 months occurred, during which the fellowship was not paid because of prolonged sickness leave, pregnancy and breastfeeding leave, parental leave or leave for medical assistance. Such an administrative extension will be granted only once.
Postdoctoral fellows (start date after 01/10/2019):
If full-time suspensions of consecutive periods of three months occurred, during which the fellowship was not paid out because of prolonged sickness leave, pregnancy and breastfeeding leave, parental leave, palliative leave or leave for medical assistance, the fellowship will automatically be extended by one year, the extension commencing from the original end date of the fellowship. This administrative extension is granted only once and suspensions during such automatic extension of the fellowship will not give rise to any further extension of the fellowship.
Once the administrative extension has been granted, additional suspensions will not give rise to any further extension of the fellowship.
2. During the period of completing a remunerated full-time research fellowship or grant at a university, a scientific institution, a company or other organisation (see article 23 of the regulations for postdoctoral fellowships).
Time credit and voluntary part-time employment will not give rise to any extension of the fellowship.
The FWO must be informed of any change of personal or work-related details.
This can be done by updating your e-portal and uploading the required documents.
The following should be submitted to the FWO, in the event of:
- marriage: an extract from the marriage certificate, with mention of the occupancy of your spouse;
- legal cohabitation: “proof of receipt of the legal cohabitation declaration” issued by the Civil Registrar in the municipality of residence, with mention of the occupation of your partner;
- dissolution of marriage or legal cohabitation: an official document of dissolution;
- birth of children: copy of the birth certificate.
- account number: declaration signed by you, the owner of the bank account number
The official last name and first name as they appear on your identity card will be entered into the database. These names will be used for drawing up official documents.
You can terminate your fellowship at any time in consultation with your supervisor and host institution, provided you notify the FWO and the academic authorities thereof in due time (preferably one month before your resignation) in writing.
Your letter of resignation must contain the following information:
- the date of resignation,
- your new position,
- the days of annual leave taken during the current year (to be confirmed with the signature of your supervisor).
You can first send your signed letter of resignation, together with the required information, via email to the FWO. The original letter of resignation must subsequently be forwarded by mail to the FWO.
The salary scale of postdoctoral fellows is that of Doctor-Assistant, as laid down by the Decision of the Flemish Government of 14 May 2001 laying down the salary scales of assistant academic staff of the universities in the Flemish Community (Belgian Official Gazette of 9 January 2002).
The salary is paid monthly, at the end of the month, into a Belgian financial account.
The year-end bonus is based on the salary of the current year and on the hours worked during the first nine months of that same year. The year-end bonus is paid out halfway through December.
The holiday allowance is based on your salary for the month of May of the current year and the hours worked during the previous year and is paid out together with your salary for the month of May.
Any absence due to illness, accident, accident at work, accident on the way to or from work, occupational illness, delivery must be reported by phone or email before 10 A.M. to the personnel department (email@example.com).
Substantiation of absence
Besides reporting one’s absence, each absence as a result of inability to work of more than one day, must be substantiated by an incapacity for work certificate issued by the attending physician. Absence of one day due to work disability must be reported to the FWO, but no certificate is required for the first three times per calendar year that this occurs. Required certificates must be sent to the FWO within 48 hours. This also applies for extensions.
Absence for more than 30 days
If you are absent for more than 30 calendar days, you must inform your health insurance fund not later than on the 28th day of your absence through a ‘confidential’ note, available only from your health insurance fund. You might receive forms from your health insurance fund that will have to be (partially) filled in by the FWO. As of the 31st calendar day, you will no longer receive a salary from the FWO, but you will receive a replacement income from your health insurance fund.
Accident at work
An accident at work is:
An accident resulting in injury while at work.
An accident on the way to or from work. The accident occurred on the normal route from the victim’s residence to work or from work to the victim’s residence.
Accident at work report (in pdf): to be filled in by the person involved or by the head of department if the person involved is unable to do so.
Medical certificate (in pdf): to be filled in by the first care provider.
All forms must be sent to the FWO.
Paid maternity leave is set at 15 weeks (105 calendar days) for a single birth; 17 weeks for a multiple birth. Of these, at least 7 calendar days must be taken before the expected delivery date. In addition, 9 weeks maternity leave must be taken after delivery.
Send a medical certificate stating the expected delivery date to the FWO.
If you come in contact with harmful agents, you must contact the occupational health service of the university within three months of your pregnancy.
If the medical exam certificate states that you should avoid certain substances that are harmful for the pregnancy, you must notify the FWO whether you will be performing alternative work until the commencement of your maternity leave.
You must inform your health insurance fund when your maternity leave starts, since you will not be paid by the FWO during your maternity leave. Instead, you will receive a replacement income from your health insurance fund.
All FWO staff will be fully reimbursed the cost of their travel card for commuting to and from work by public transport (train – tram – bus – metro).
For staff living abroad, only travel costs up to the border will be reimbursed.
To be considered for reimbursement, the following should be provided as soon as possible to the FWO:
- Bus travel card: copy of the bus travel card
- Train card or combined cards: copy of the train card (MOBIB) and copy of the train ticket/proof of the uploaded contract
- Metro travel card: copy of the metro travel card (MOBIB) and copy of proof of purchase
The FWO does not reimburse any supplements for first-class NMBS/SNCB travel cards.
The reimbursement will be paid into your account together with the next payment of your grant or salary.
Should you leave the organisation before the end of the year, part of the reimbursed amount will be recovered.
If you still have a university travel card when you join the FWO, you must cancel it by sending proof of the university travel card to the university’s HR department. You will then need to request a new travel card directly from the transport company.
Bicycle mileage allowance
Every staff member who uses the bicycle for:
- the entire commute, i.e. commuting by bike from home to work, without using any other means of transport,
- part of the commute, before or after another means of transport is used,
is entitled to a bicycle mileage allowance.
You use the bicycle for commuting in Belgium on at least 80% of the days effectively worked during the month.
The distance travelled (single trip) is at least one kilometre.
The current bicycle allowance is €0.27 per kilometre to and from.
The bicycle allowance can be requested using the online form available in the e-portal.
Any change (cancellation, temporary non-use, change in number of kilometres, etc.) must be reported immediately.
If you are found to have made false statements, the amounts paid will be recovered. In addition, disciplinary sanctions may be imposed. False statements can also lead to criminal prosecution.
Parental leave, medical assistance and palliative leave
More information about taking parental leave, leave for medical assistance or palliative leave is available at the RVA (National Employment Service) website (www.rva.be).
The FWO follows the regulations for the private sector.
Pursuant to the applicable legal provisions, an application for time credit can be submitted no sooner than six months in advance. More information can be found at the RVA website (www.rva.be).
The holiday periods are the same as those laid down in the regulations of the host institution and are determined in consultation with the supervisor. You must inform the FWO of your holiday dates. The holiday pay is based on your salary for the month of May of the current year and the hours worked during the previous year, and is paid together with your salary for the month of May.
The paternity leave must be taken within a period of 4 months as of the date of birth. The first 3 days are paid by the FWO. The health service office remunerates the other days:
- maximum 7 for births before 1 January 2021,
- maximum 12 for births as from 1 January 2021,
- maximum 17 for births as from 1 January 2023.
The father or co-mother must be eligible to receive sickness and disability benefits. If you have only been employed for a few months, you are advised to check with your health insurance fund whether you are eligible to receive paternity leave benefits. When applying for paternity leave, you must specify on which days you want to take paternity leave.
Paternity leave, in which the researcher is covered by the mutual health insurance fund for at least 14 days, may be eligible for suspension/extension of a fellowship, as per the provisions set out in the applicable regulations. Therefore, at the end of the paternity leave, the researcher must submit a certificate from the mutual health insurance fund to the FWO’s human resources department stating the days taken. Paternity leave of less than 14 days payable by the mutual health insurance fund shall not be eligible for an extension of the fellowship. Please note: this extension is only possible if your fellowship has not been administratively extended. If so, for instance in the event of long-term sick leave, the paternity leave shall not result in any extension of the fellowship.
All stays, in Belgium and abroad, must be reported to the FWO using the “Stay Notification” form available in the e-portal under the Download Documents section.
A stay may be one of the following:
- Summer school
- Study-related stay
- Internship (fellowships)
A cumulation request must always be submitted for stays of 3 months or longer, excluding those that are funded by the FWO. This also applies for internships (fellowships), irrespective of the duration of the internship.
The Cumulation Request form is available in the e-portal under the Download Documents section.
The cumulation request must be co-signed by the supervisor and rector. For this purpose, you can contact the Research Coordination Office of your university.
The FWO sets high standards for supervisors of its PhD candidates or postdoctoral researchers. These requirements are explicitly described in the profile of the good supervisor and state, among other things, that the supervisor must create and maintain a safe environment that is indispensable for the proper functioning of the doctoral student, the postdoctoral researcher and / or other researchers associated with his FWO research project. Attention to psychosocial well-being is an important part of this safe environment.
PhD fellows or postdoctoral researchers can raise psychosocial problems with their supervisors. All Flemish host institutions also have a network of ombudsman services and confidential advisers to whom FWO researchers can turn to with psychosocial problems that they cannot discuss with their supervisor. When an PhD fellow or postdoctoral researcher has used all facilities in their own host institution to find a solution to a psychosocial problem, in particular in the event of conflicts between the researcher and the supervisor, the FWO can, attempt to mediate. In such a case, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
FWO researchers can also contact the Flemish Government's external Flemish contact point for inappropriate behavior: https://www.vlaanderen.be/vlaams-meldpunt-grensoverschrijdend-gedrag.
The FWO emphasizes the importance of raising psychosocial problems at an early stage with the supervisor, the host institution or the FWO itself.
Transparent clinical trials
If your project involves a clinical trial, the trial must be registered in a public clinical trial registry (e.g. https://www.clinicaltrials.gov)) prior to the start of the trial (see Article 4 §2 of FWO’s General Regulations). For these purposes, a clinical trial is any research study in which human participants or groups of human participants are prospectively assigned to receive one or more health-related interventions in order to assess the effects on health outcomes.. Clinical trials include interventions such as, but not limited to drugs, cells and other biological products, surgical procedures, radiological procedures, devices, behavioural treatments, changes in care processes, preventive care, etc. This definition includes phase I to phase IV trials.
When the first patient is enrolled, the FWO must be informed (via email@example.com) of the start date of the trial (first patient in) and the registration number of the clinical trial. The data in the registry must be kept up to date for the duration of the trial and, within one year of the end of the clinical trial (six months for paediatric trials), a full descriptive clinical study protocol and a summary of the trial results must be added to the same registry, regardless of whether the trial results were negative, inconclusive or positive. For more background information, see Research Foundation - Flanders - Research Ethics (fwo.be)/Attention points/1. Transparent clinical trials.