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PhD Salaries

Dear PhD Students, Dear Post-doc,

As communicated to you at the very end of last year, EPFL decided to reduce the annual increase of your wages corresponding to work experience recognition for 2016. Due to the suddenness of this decision, your social partners could only take note of it. Together with ACC and APC, two accredited EPFL labour unions, ACIDE wrote a letter to the vice-president André Schneider, asking to withdraw the proposed reform. However, EPFL direction did not open talks and only confirmed its decision.

The information from HR was very vague, but it is confirmed that this reduction not only concerns newcomers but also people that are at EPFL since 2015 and before. This means your work experience recognition increment will be of 1000CHF / 1500CHF for PhD Students / Post-Docs, respectively. This means that a 4 years PhD is payed 2.8% less than 4 years ago. For a post-doc your maximum wage loss is of 4.6%.

ACIDE and the other associations will continue to claim your rights and a re-establishment of the previous salary scheme. Meanwhile, post-docs are encouraged to negotiate their salary, if possible before arriving in Lausanne. It is also to note that, although the same rigorous expense management has been requested to our colleagues in Zurich, the ETH has decided to leave researchers’ salaries unchanged.

If you want to support us in our actions, we will welcome your e-mail with due confidentiality.

PhD salaries

Assistants are hired for a fixes term based on one-year contrats. The total employment duration as an assitant may not exceed six year.

Salary policy since 2010 « des volées »

This policy applies  to all PhD students hired as from 2008. Starting 2010, the flat rate salary was defined according to the year of one’s first contract with EPFL as follows:

  • The initial annual salary which is defined by « volée » or the year when you have been hired (volée 2013, volée 2014, etc.). This initial salary will be adjusted in the beginning of each year.
  • The annual increase of 2’000.- CHF for PhD students, which is granted in the beginning of the calendar year.
    If a researcher arrives in the middle of the year, then he/she will receive a partial annual increase at the beginning of the calendar year (in proportion to his working time since his arrival). Next years, he/she will receive the whole annual increase.
  • No cost-of-living adjustment is planned during the whole employment time.
  • The maximal duration of the contract is 6 years.

To summarise these results we give you here the annual salary for PhD students and assistants depending on your arriving to EPFL :

1st year 

 2nd year   

 3rd year   

 4th year 

 5th year 

 6th year 

up to 2015







2016 – 2017














All researchers hired under the terms of the old salaries system will receive only the yearly increase.

ACIDE Position

As of January 2014, the PhD students will have to get the compulsory health insurance. They will no longer benefit from the insurance exemption, following a decision by the Federal Council.

This change means an additional expenditure of 4000 CHF per annum per person, thus a decrease in the available income. The situation is even worse for those of our researchers who are married and/or have children.

Doctoral students of ETH, while having a higher salary, remain exempt from this insurance obligation. Indeed, the canton of Zurich decided to maintain the exemption, as opposed to the canton of Vaud.

We wanted to know the position of the administration on what we consider a decrease in our purchasing power of about 8%. However, as of today, we have not received any answer from the administration to our request of a meeting to discuss this issue.

Your opinion is of interest to us, so please do not hesitate to contact us (acide@epfl.ch).

Researchers salaries in 2010

Researchers salaries in 2010

Results of 2010 salaries negotiations for researchers under fixed term contract – PhD students, post-docs, assistants and senior researchers under project.

The negotiation between EPFL Management and Unions (ACC and APC, EPFL sections) took place at the end of the year. ACIDE board has not been consulted by EPFL management during the negotiation, even with the 880 signatures we got from our survey-petition on May 2009. The new rules are the following:

  1. All researchers with a fixed-term contract before 31st December 2009, won’t receive any cost-of-living adjustment. They will get the yearly increas as following :
    • PhD students with contract before 2008, full time : 3’072.- CHF
    • PhD students with contract since 2008, 2’000.- CHF
    • Scientific assistants with contract before 2010: 3’072.- CHF
    • Post-docs with contract before 2010, full time : 3’173.- CHF
  2. The flat rate for PhD students hired before 2010 continues to follow the salary table in effect since January 2008 (50’000CHF for the first year with 2’000 yearly increase).
  3. The flat rate for PhD students hired in 2010 is increased by 500 CHF (1%) totalling 50’500 CHF for the first year. The 2’000 CHF yearly increase stays the same. No cost-of-living adjustment is planned during the whole employment time.
  4. The flat rate system now applies also to post-doc hired in 2010 onward. Therefore, someone hired in 2010 will receive a 80’500CHF gross salary, with a 3’000CHF yearly increase. No cost-of-living adjustment is planned during the whole employment time.

ACIDE’s standpoint:

The ACIDE board judges that the new salaries rules and regulations are not satisfying. In addition,the cost-of-living adjustment is not uniformly applied to everyone holding a fixed-term contract. PhD students and post-docs hired under the terms of the old salaries system and PhD students hired with a flat-rate contract before 2009, i.e. everyone with a fixed-term contract before 31st December 2009, won’t receive a cost-of-living adjustment for 2008 and 2009 (totalling 1.9%).

These new rules result in an unequal treatment between EPFL employees depending on when they have been hired. The ACIDE board refuses to support this policy.

ACIDE’s standpoint has been submitted to EPFL management during our recent meeting on January 2010. Beside the discussion about salaries, ACIDE asked for the establishement of legal document about salaries for scientific personnel, and for informing researchers about the coming salary together with the contract renewal.