I am wondering if postdoctoral positions come with unemployment insurance. I specifically want to know about this in UK and Canada. I know research positions in Germany for instance benefit from public service rules. Therefore, one can claim insurance in Germany after postdoc contracts end.

More specifically,

  1. does EPSRC-funded projects in the UK include unemployment insurance?
  2. does Mitacs-funded projects in Canada include unemployment insurance?
  • 2
    As, typically, a limited-term employment position, that seems unlikely to be the case. When your contract ends, well, it ends. Also understand that being terminated for cause does not trigger unemployment benefits.
    – Jon Custer
    Nov 11, 2021 at 16:52
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    The unemployment benefits in Germany have nothing to do with whether your employed by the government or not (there are some exceptions for Beamte, but that should not affect post-docs). In short, if you worked the required 12 months in the last two years and did not cause the end of employment yourself, you are eligible for benefits. The end of a limited contract simply does not count as your fault in Germany.
    – mlk
    Nov 11, 2021 at 17:45
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    @JonCuster, that looks like a US answer. I doubt that it travels very far. The social safety net here is one of the worst in the developed world.
    – Buffy
    Nov 11, 2021 at 18:19
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    I can't say how they are different, but the educational system and the social benefits system of UK and Canada are likely very different. And different from the US as well. I just suggest that an answer for one might not be valid for the other.
    – Buffy
    Nov 11, 2021 at 18:22
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    @mlk: Just for the sake of completeness, I'd add the following remark to your comment (though your comment reflects the situation in Germany quite well, of course): It does indeed happen sometimes - though quite rarely in my experience - that postdocs in Germany are employed as "Beamte auf Zeit" (and in this case, they don't actually get unemployment insurance - which is arguably quite bizarre). I know one such case myself, and I've heard of other cases. too. Nov 11, 2021 at 19:52

2 Answers 2


For the UK, your visa is connected to your contract. Once the contract ends, you must leave the country (unless you have found another contract and obtained another visa). If you legally stay in the UK long enough through a series of contracts to get residency/citizenship then you would be eligible for benefits like anyone else. There is no real concept of 'unemployment insurance' because your unemployment benefits are not associated with your employer in the first place.

  • Aha, that explains a lot. Nov 12, 2021 at 14:53
  • Strictly there is a general concept of 'unemployment insurance', money.co.uk/income-protection-insurance/… but only as a private plan bought from an insurer paying out if you unexpectedly become unemployed through no fault of your own (effectively a bet that you're going to lose your job). It's not something people would generally pay for, and a short term Post Doc would be unlikely to find someone to cover them.
    – origimbo
    Nov 12, 2021 at 15:36

A UK postdoc does not come with any dedicated 'unemployment insurance'. However, a postdoc who has reached the end of their contract would (unless otherwise ineligible) be able to claim government unemployment benefits.

  • 1
    Does that apply to visa holders as well as residents? IIRC, the notion of "citizen" is different in UK than elsewhere.
    – Buffy
    Nov 11, 2021 at 21:12
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    @Buffy It's complicated. I think it basically applies while you have a right to live and work in the UK. If your presence is tied to a visa that is tied to a specific job, maybe not. On the other hand it is available to non-citizens if they are otherwise entitled to work. Anyone with non-standard circumstances would be well advised to investigate the details well before they come to rely on this.
    – avid
    Nov 11, 2021 at 21:40
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    Perhaps you should update your answer with the caveats.
    – Buffy
    Nov 11, 2021 at 21:45

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