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I have a rather convoluted employment situation. I am a Postdoc in U.K. but I signed a contract for a teaching intensive U.S. university with start date next January, at the end of my current post-doc. However, I have been recently informed that a fellowship my current PI applied for got funded and she wishes to nominate me as post-doc for this position as well. If I simply take the US job, I can forget about doing any research and job progression back into research. At the same time, this is a very well-paid permanent position which I am taking as a solid back-up plan if no better permanent job comes out. The funding my PI secured would generate a 1-year postdoc. On the other hand, it is a 100% research position.

A natural route to juggle the problem would be to ask for a part-time appointment in both positions and let the second post-doc naturally exhaust in two years. However, I am aware the institution offering the permanent position is not willing to offer a part-time.

Hence, I am now considering creating a personal company, and ask my PI to pay my research time through the company. I am aware many academics use private companies as a vehicle for easing funding routes, but I am unsure whether the above can be realized at all.

Any lead strongy appreciated!

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    I'm confused. If you are unable or contractually obligated to not work both the teaching and postdoc positions, I don't really see how the setup you propose changes anything. Neither employer is going to like that you have a second full-time job, no matter who the paycheck is made out to. May 22, 2023 at 16:54
  • If you are employed in two different countries for which tax agreements exist, one employer may have to withhold the income tax for the work performed in the other country. Most employers don't like to deal with such headache. A company would circumvent the problem as the salary would be paid in form of consultancy rather than employment income.
    – aghonia
    May 22, 2023 at 17:09
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    It's very unclear from what you've written that you're trying to solve a tax problem. You wrote that a part-time appointment in both jobs would be the natural solution, but I don't see how that addresses the tax issue at all. What's written here sounds like a general issue of how to work two jobs, not anything related to issues caused by international tax treaties. May 22, 2023 at 17:17
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    What is an "employment problem"? There's nothing preventing you from taking both jobs, aside from the fact that you'd quite likely be fired if it were discovered that you had a second full-time job. Having the employers make the check out to a company that you're the sole employee of instead of to you directly doesn't address that. May 22, 2023 at 17:37
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    "For the employer, it is a tax issue." This assertion is highly doubtful, unless both employers explicitly told you that they would be happy with you working both positions at the same time if it were not for tax issues (which they almost certainly didn't). May 22, 2023 at 18:18

3 Answers 3

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It appears from the question that you would like to work two jobs, either both part time or one full time and one part time, but one employer is not willing to contract with you under those terms.

It's rather clear there is no administrative structuring of this situation, e.g. via incorporating entities or new bank accounts, that will resolve the issue that one of your potential employers is unwilling to contract your labor under the changed terms you've offered.

A natural route to juggle the problem would be to ask for a part-time appointment in both positions and let the second post-doc naturally exhaust in two years.

I haven't ever heard of such an arrangement in the US. What's more common and culturally accepted is for you to request a deferral of start date for the permanent position so that you can complete this extra year of postdoc. You'll need to convince the employers for that position that it's worth the mild risk and inconvenience waiting.

If I simply take the US job, I can forget about doing any research and job progression back into research. At the same time, this is a very well-paid permanent position which I am taking as a solid back-up plan if no better permanent job comes out.

It's understandable if you make whatever career decisions for yourself you think are best, but based on the tone of your question I feel compelled to point out that the following. You've suggested interest in several decisions that I'd usually expect to impact your professional reputation rather negatively and severely. Backing out of a firm and signed contract for a permanent position often screws the hiring department, and they will not remember it kindly. Negotiating the terms of your contract after you've already signed like you're interested in doing isn't impossible, but you should treat it very delicately.

Your question gives me, at least, the impression that you're willing to run off for the next decent job that you can come across, and perhaps underestimate the responsibilities a department anticipates someone to cover if they take a permanent position. Probably best to avoid that if it's not your intent.

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Being a very productive researcher at a teaching school can be possible and very rewarding. Is research required? If so, you can simply go above and beyond requirements there. You may still be able to have some funding from your current group.

Whatever you do, be open and honest. If it is legal and acceptable to do this, say by forming a fictional legal entity, then fine, but that does sound sketch to me. The important thing is that both employers are fully and honestly informed and agree. I don't know anything about working two paying jobs simultaneously, sorry.

I do have insight of being a researcher at a teaching school. My experience is that even with a tenure track position with a very minimal research requirement, high quality productive research will garner you much more recognition than, say, the same level of effort in administrative duties or teaching. All of that is important of course, but there is a certain natural prestige associated with scholarship/research, even better if you involve students in it. Of course others may have different experience that contrasts with mine. I hope this is helpful.

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Fellowships generally go to people, not companies. If your PI were to hire a company to carry out work under a grant, that would be a very different spending category from the point of view of your finance department. It might involve a subcontract or consortium arrangement. You have no way of knowing whether the money set aside for a fellowship can be used this way without asking your PI (who probably would need to ask the pencil pushers and the school and maybe even the funding institution for a real answer)

The company that hired you did so in a full time role. You have no idea whether they'd be interested in hiring you in a part time role. Given that, your plan certainly doesn't feel like a "natural route", and I don't understand how setting up a company alleviates any of the real issues you'd be facing for accepting both jobs in a half time capacity.

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