On Assignment Lab Support Paid Holidays Home

Total Rewards

At Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), we believe it's important to recognize and reward employee performance through our Total Rewards program—a comprehensive portfolio of benefits that reaches far beyond the paycheck. Our program strategy helps us attract, retain, evaluate, recognize, and develop the talented staff essential to fulfill PNNL's vision and mission. Total Rewards is PNNL's investment in you. It includes comprehensive benefits, performance and recognition programs, educational programs, work-life balance, and career growth opportunities. With your help, we will continue to sustainably expand our reputation for advancing scientific discovery and for translating those discoveries into solutions that address the nation's most urgent needs in energy, the environment, and national security. Join us!

For Your Contributions

Direct Compensation: PNNL is committed to a total compensation strategy that is competitive and performance-driven. We strongly believe in rewarding performance; therefore, we offer a competitive cash compensation program that includes base pay and variable compensation for employees. To support our competitive performance-based pay practices, we make every effort to ensure that our salaries are both externally competitive and internally equitable.

Rewards & Recognition: To strengthen the link between pay and performance, we offer a multi-faceted variable pay program based on individual and team performance.

For Your Health & Well Being

Health & Welfare: Our comprehensive coverage includes:

  • Medical — Choice of three medical plans offered to you and your eligible dependents through Anthem (Blue Cross/Blue Shield) including prescription coverage through CVS Caremark.
  • Vision — Choice of two vision plans provided through VSP, that covers eye exams and your hardware needs.
  • Dental — Provides you with access to two of the nation's largest networks of participating dentists through Delta Dental of Ohio.
  • Short-Term Disability — Company-paid benefit that provides continuing income if you cannot work due to a covered illness or injury. Employees may be eligible for up to 25 weeks of salary replacement.
  • Long-Term Disability — Company-paid benefit that provides continuing income if you cannot work due to a covered illness or injury after 25 weeks on short-term disability.
  • Employee Assistance Program — Provides the resources and expertise you need to deal with everything from the demands of everyday life to major life events. Employees and their family members are eligible to participate in our EAP Plan which provides confidential assessment, counseling services, and referrals if necessary. It also offers financial services and discounts on legal services.
  • Flexible Spending Accounts — FSAs are a great way to save money by providing a tax-free way to pay for eligible health care and dependent care expenses.
  • Health Savings Account — With the HSA, you'll get many of the advantages of a Healthcare FSA, plus more. The HSA is only available to those who enroll in the High Deductible Health Plan that is one of the three health plans that are available.
  • Group Life Insurance — PNNL provides basic life insurance coverage equal to 11.2 times the staff member's annual base salary. This coverage, which also includes emergency travel assistance services through Assist America, increases in step with salary increases for active staff members up to age 65, after which time it decreases. The following choices also are available under the Group Life Insurance benefit:
    • Additional Life Insurance: 1 to 5 times your base salary (subject to a dollar maximum).
    • Dependent Life Insurance: $5,000 or $10,000.
  • Accident Insurance — Provides financial protection, up to $500,000, against covered hazards when you travel on assignment for the benefit of PNNL. You may also choose to elect additional group accident insurance coverage in amounts of $20,000 to $750,000 for yourself and/or your family. This is an optional plan that provides you with additional financial protection for yourself and your covered dependents in case of an accident.
  • Emergency Travel Assistance Service — Provides emergency medical referrals, monitoring, evacuation, repatriation, security advice, logistical expertise, and more to help safeguard PNNL staff while on personal or business travel within the United States or abroad.

For Your Future

PNNL believes in providing you with competitive and valuable benefits that provide financial security during your retirement years. That's why PNNL offers both defined benefit (“pension”) and defined contribution (“401(k)”) plans to help you achieve your retirement goals.

Retirement Benefits:

  • Pension Plan — At age 65, this benefit is equal to 1.2% multiplied by your highest 60 consecutive months average salary multiplied by years of service (40 years maximum).
    • You automatically become a Pension Plan member upon salaried employment.
    • Staff become 100% vested after 5 plan years of service.
  • 401(k) Savings Plan — This plan offers multiple investment options in which you can contribute 1 to 75% of your salary on a before-tax and 1 to 50% on an after-tax basis. PNNL will immediately match 50% of your first 7% of monthly contributions.
    • Salaried staff may enroll immediately upon hire.
    • Staff become 100% vested after 36 months of service.

For Your Career

To ensure that employees are fully using their talents and have the skills they need to be effective, we offer the following career-development programs:

  • Tuition Reimbursement Program — Employees may be eligible to receive 100% reimbursement of tuition and certain fees for academic study. Course of study must align with PNNL's mission and be applicable to the staff member's current or anticipated job responsibility.
  • Leadership & Staff Development Programs — Employees may be eligible to participate in one of PNNL's career development programs upon nomination by their manager.

Work/Life Balance

Because PNNL recognizes that employees have lives outside of work, PNNL offers paid holidays, accrued vacation time, and a flexible work schedule.

Paid Time Off:

  • Vacation — All employees immediately begin accruing two weeks paid vacation per year, with the opportunity to accrue up to a maximum of five weeks based on length of service.
  • Holidays — All employees receive 8 fixed holidays, plus two staff-designated floating holidays, per calendar year.
  • Sick Leave — Sick leave is available but is subject to management approval.
  • Special Leave — Employees may request specific leaves of absence to further career, business, educational, or personal development goals.
    • Subject to length of service requirements and management approval.

Flexible Schedules

  • PNNL offers flexible working hours, including consideration for alternate work schedules.
  • Telework — A flexible work option that is offered to almost all PNNL employees. It increases work-life balance, cost savings, and decreased commuting stresses on employees by having the option to work from home.

beWELL: PNNL's wellness program, beWELL, focuses on building and maintaining a healthy workforce that is dedicated to promoting the research agenda of PNNL. The program is designed to engage the workforce in positive behaviors that promote personal wellness and healthy lifestyles. We offer a variety of programs and services that emphasize awareness, prevention, and positive health changes; foster an environment that supports healthy lifestyle choices, and provide knowledge and skills to maintain health and enhance work performance. Programs include fitness and health challenges with achievement awards to promote healthy behaviors, campus walking routes, an ergonomic program, seasonal influenza vaccines, health and wellness fairs, healthy eating and nutrition classes, and a Weight Watchers at Work program.

Life@PNNL: Life@PNNL isn't just a program or a function but an overarching way to look at your total employee experience. From benefits to safety to career growth to maintaining a healthy work life balance, Life@PNNL impacts every aspect of your life at the Laboratory. Our wide-variety of offerings includes professional networks, social clubs, and charity projects along with staff discounts, internal classified ads. and lab-wide events.

Sidebar: Temporary Lab Employment - For More Information

When most people think of temporary workers, they think of the office clerk filling in for someone on vacation. Increasingly, though, scientific workers-including highly trained Ph.D.'s-are being employed on a temporary basis, sometimes for months or years at a time. "Temping" provides jobs for scientists who might otherwise be unemployed, helps companies fill in for missing employees, and gives firms the flexibility to take on short-term projects. But critics of the practice think that increased reliance on temporary scientific workers is bad for industry, bad for scientists, and bad for science as a whole. Two percent of the work force in the United States consists of contingency workers, and one-sixth of those workers have professional, scientific, or technical specialties, according to a recent Washington Post article (R. Weiss, Jan. 30, 1997, page A1). There's no doubt that the numbers of temporary scientific workers are increasing. Few agencies handling scientists existed before the mid-1980s. Today, there are several agencies that deal specifically with scientific workers. Some of them have dozens of branch offices.

The largest agency specializing in scientific contingency workers-Lab Support, a division of On Assignment Inc. in Calabasas, Calif.-generates $100 million in revenue annually and has 82 branch offices nationwide. Troy, Mich.-based Kelly Services, the world leader in temporary employment with 1,400 offices worldwide, established Kelly Scientific Resources in 1995. According to the Washington Post, revenues from Kelly Scientific Resources, which expects to have 25 branch offices by the end of 1997, increased 136 percent last year. They are expected to double again this year.

Scientists are not just on the employee end of the temporary equation. They increasingly are finding themselves on the hiring side as well. Anne H. Fortier, associate director for research biology at EntreMed Inc., a small biotech company in Rockville, Md., is a case in point. When a technician in her lab suddenly announced that she would be gone for a month for personal reasons, Fortier learned firsthand some of the advantages-and the disadvantages-of working with temporary scientific employees.

Fortier wasted no time in phoning all three scientific temp agencies in her area. She explained that she needed someone who knew about tissue culture, who could run ELISA assays, and who could prepare buffers and reagents. Within hours, each of the agencies faxed her a handful of résumés, which she reviewed that same evening. Two of them seemed interesting, so she called the agencies, which routinely remain open until 7 p.m., and asked them to arrange phone interviews for the next morning. Based on the interviews, she chose one of the candidates, who reported to work the very next day.

"She worked out very well, but then she found a permanent job," recalls Fortier. "She was only with me for a week, so I had to go through the process again. The next one that I got was not very good. This sounds cruel, but basically the person just wasn't bright enough for the job. She had a college degree, but just couldn't handle the protocols. It was very clear within the first day that she wasn't going to work out."

Then Fortier discovered another advantage of dealing with temp agencies: Not only is hiring someone quick and easy, but also "getting rid of somebody that isn't working out is equally as user-friendly. I called the agency that afternoon and said, 'She's not going to work out. I don't want her back tomorrow,' and they said, 'Fine.' They contacted her at home and said, 'You're not going to be needed.' So I didn't have to have personal involvement in this process of excusing her."

Fortier repeated the hiring process once more, and the third time was the charm. This temp was "wonderful," she says, so much so, in fact, that Fortier might well have hired her as a permanent replacement if her regular employee had not returned.

While agencies make it easier to find qualified temporary workers, companies still have to get that employee up to speed. "The major disadvantage of having a temporary is that you spend some amount of time training, and then they're going to be gone in a relatively short time," notes Fortier.

Donald V. Truss, president and CEO of The Science Registry, a temporary services agency based in Cranford, N.J., agrees that this is a factor even with very highly trained employees. "Even if a person has a Ph.D. and 20 years of experience, they still have to learn where the pipettes are kept. It does take a couple of days or a week for them to get acclimated." This training time decreases in significance, of course, as the length of a temporary assignment increases.



Indeed, increasing assignment length is a clear trend in temporary scientific employment. "Years ago, clients would ask us to find somebody to cover for jury duty." explains Dana E. Hallberg, Lab Support's vice president for operations. "But the clients are becoming more savvy with their requests. They're hiring more skilled professionals. And for somebody [who's skilled] to take on a project and get some real good data, you can't do that overnight."


"There's been a substantial change in our industry in the last several years," observes Truss. "It's gotten to the point where even very large pharmaceutical companies will outsource all of their analytical chemistry. They'll say, 'We want to be in the new drug-discovery business. We don't want to be in the analytical chemistry business.' So they outsource the whole quality-control [QC] process to what is referred to as a 'vendor on premises.'"

In other words, the pharmaceutical company will contract with a staffing service-the "vendor"-to provide an entire QC department. Although the employees of this department report to work each morning at the company's plant, they are hired and paid by the staffing service. "With this concept of outsourcing a department, instead of just asking for temporary help, many of these 'temporary' assignments are lasting for two years," observes Truss.

The workers in these "outsourced" departments-indeed, temporary workers in general-rarely receive benefits anywhere near as generous as those routinely granted to permanent employees in the same company. Most agencies don't provide benefits until the worker has been employed for a certain length of time-usually four to six months. After that, they typically get six paid holidays (most permanent employees get at least 12), at most a week of vacation pay, and the opportunity to purchase health insurance at a discount. Lab Support also has an optional stock purchase plan, but none of the scientific temp agencies approached by The Scientist provides anything like a retirement or pension plan.

Rates of pay, however, are competitive. Lab Support pays its workers-74 percent of whom are at the B.S. level or below- between $10 and $25 an hour for the normal 40-hour week. The Science Registry, with most of its workers at the master's and Ph.D. levels, pays between $13 and $125 per hour. The highest rates are reserved for scientists hired by law firms as expert witnesses, and any scientist, even professors with full-time jobs, can request such an assignment.

"We have a lot of academics in our database," declares Truss, "but we only find work for a small percentage of the people who sign up." Typical rates for full-time temporary work include $85 per hour for a senior regulatory affairs professional and $58 per hour for a clinical research associate. Agencies charge the hiring company significant fees for their services. As a general rule, of every dollar the agency charges its clients, it keeps 40 cents and pays the employee 60 cents.



"The pay rate is pretty decent. It's definitely enough to live off of," remarks Brian T. Duffy, who was recently graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with a B.S. in microbiology. Duffy has worked at five temporary scientific jobs within the last few years. He obtained several of these through Lab Support. When he decided to move to California, "I knew I'd have a job within a matter of weeks." Indeed, Lab Support quickly found him a position at $11.50 per hour working in the environmental quality control department of Genentech Inc., the South San Francisco, Calif.-based biotech giant. Although he enjoyed working at the company, Duffy's Genentech assignment recently ended.

Asked why he's chosen to work as a temp, Duffy responds, "It's more or less out of necessity. It's really difficult to get yourself in a permanent job in the work environment these days." But he sees definite advantages in temp work. "Every once in a while you're going to run across people you don't get along with, whether you're a temp or whether you're permanent. And being a temp, hey, you get the option of bailing out, going somewhere doing something else. You get to feel out your work environment, feel out your coworkers, and decide whether that's where you want to be and that's what you want to do before a permanent position offer comes."

"We get people from all walks of life," observes Hallberg, listing "people who have just been laid off, who want to work while they're continuing their job search [and] people who have recently graduated from biology and chemistry programs and want an opportunity to get their foot in the door and want an opportunity to put some experience on their r^Îsum^Îs. Probably 75 [percent] to 80 percent of the people working with us, their ultimate goal is to find the perfect permanent job. [The others] are temping because they like the flexibility of the hours. Maybe they just had a family and they want to take the summer off."

Hallberg has worked with one microbiologist over a period of five years who's also a professional mountain-climbing instructor. Because of the flexibility temporary employment provides, he's able to spend his winters on the mountain and his summers in the lab.

Just as most temporary employees hope to find permanent work, as Hallberg points out, many companies use temporary positions as a kind of audition for permanent jobs. In the jargon of the agencies, this is called "try before you buy." Most agencies make it simple to convert a temporary worker to a permanent staffer, charging no fee if the employee has been on board six months or longer.

Not everyone thinks that temporary scientific work is good for either the employees or the employers. One critic is Dan Duesler, an electron microscopist who was "downsized" after spending 21 years working for Miles Inc., a pharmaceutical company based in Elkhart, Ind. (Several years ago, Miles was acquired by the Bayer Corp. of Leverkusen, Germany.) Two months after he was laid off, Duesler was rehired by his old company as a temp. The firm wanted him to put in two weeks of work completing a single project. But "one thing led to another," Duesler recalls, and he was still temping for the company a year and a half later.

"For anyone who's interested in trying to establish some kind of stability, particularly someone with kids in college or any designs on future retirement, the temporary field simply doesn't provide anything in the way of good feelings," Duesler notes. "You work day to day. [The company] definitely has the power and the ability and the concern and the interest to simply tell you to go home at noon and don't come back. It's difficult to make any commitments from that perspective. You certainly don't dare go buy a new car or a new house or commit to college or anything knowing full well that by Monday you may not have any work. I find that very uncomfortable. Maybe others don't."

And Duesler thinks that companies lose out by relying too heavily on temporary workers. "When I was working, my attitude was pretty much [that] whatever was good for the company was good for me." Duesler recalls stopping at the company library after work to "chase down an idea," and frequently remaining there until midnight. "I certainly didn't do any of that as a temporary."



Duesler's criticisms are echoed by David G. Jensen, managing director of Search Masters International, a Sedona, Ariz.-based company that recruits scientists for permanent jobs in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. "I find this to be an atrocious use of qualified people," Jensen says. "I think it's not a scenario to build upon for a career. You might say you could get some experience doing this, and that's very true, but just like a postdoc gives you great experience, you're supposed to move on to something else after that.

"Companies who substitute a temporary work force in the scientific arena don't get full utilization of [those employees]," continues Jensen. "They're not ever put in a position where they can be challenged, and I think it's a huge loss. To the employee there is no short-term negative. But once it goes beyond a year or two, in my opinion that person can be damaged by being labeled as a person who's satisfied not being very challenged."

Jensen fears that the increasing reliance on temporary scientific workers bodes ill for science as a whole. "What this is setting the stage for is career temporary people, people who have gone through advanced training in the sciences, who come out expecting to find a wonderful opportunity for them to advance and become respected members of society. Instead, they end up working for companies that don't have proper benefits, that don't have career ladders, that simply move them from one location to another on temporary contracts. This is not a good situation."

But even Jensen acknowledges that temporary scientific employment has its place, and can work to the advantage of both the company and the worker. "If a young company is truly going to develop a six-month project, I don't think there's anything wrong with utilizing the services of a technical temporary agency to bring people in. That is far preferred to [hiring permanent workers and later] having a layoff and leaving people adrift in the job market."

And for the individual, "one of the good things that can happen is that a person could take a temporary job and then make contacts that turn into permanent work," Jensen notes.

In spite of the criticisms, Truss, like most industry observers, expects the numbers of temporary scientific workers to continue increasing. "'Temporary' and 'permanent' are really misnomers," he concludes. "There's nothing permanent, especially in this day and age. It's never been easier to get into or out of a job than it is now. The only people who have permanent jobs are those who are tenured, and those positions are relatively rare. You never have a greater permanent job than you do when you have a set of skills you can market easily and sell to anybody. That's what gives you permanency in your employment, in your career. And you acquire more skills now by moving around faster."


Robert Finn, a freelance science writer based in Long Beach, Calif., is online at finn@nasw.org. (The Scientist, Vol:11, # 8, pg 12-13, April 14, 1997)

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