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Researchers Salaries


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 1000CHF / 1500CHF for PhD Students / Post-Docs, respectively. This means that a 4 years PhD is paid 2.8% less than 4 years ago. For a post-doc your maximum wage loss is 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.


Researchers salaries

Scientists make an active contribution to education and research. They may be employed on the basis of either a fixed-term contract (CDD) for a maximum period of 4 years or a contract of indeterminate duration (CDI).

This policy applies to all flat rate salaries (PhD students hired as of 2008 and postdocs hired as from 2010). 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 2019, volée 2020, etc.). This initial salary will be adjusted at the beginning of each year.
  • The annual increase of 1’000.- CHF for PhD students and 1’500.- CHF for postdocs, 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 maximum duration of the contract is 4 years.

To summarise these results we give you here the annual salary depending on your arriving to EPFL :

1st year 

 2nd year   

 3rd year   

 4th year 

up to 2015





2016 – 2017















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


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.