At many Uni’s, postdocs are classified in some nebulous category somewhere between grad student and indentured servant. My university (top 5 in total NIH funding) does not pay payroll taxes or withhold federal taxes, thus furthering their claim that we are not employees, but, rather, are “trainees”.
With that being said, methinks many universities are going towards some form of “non-employee” for postdocs as it has significant advantages, including adding an additional layer of psychological guilt upon postdocs, as they aren’t even technically “employed” and are thus doing this for the greater good.
(I will say the only added benefit for us is that we can skip all of our stupid Environmental Health and Radiation Safety training and since we aren’t employees, they can’t withhold our pay or punish us in any way.)
In addition to whether postdocs get appropriate safety training, I suspect that classifying postdocs as trainees rather than employees means that postdocs are not eligible for workers comp if they get injured while working.
The University of California, San Francisco, says that the top recipients of NIH funding in 2014 were:
University of Pennsylvania
University of Washington
University of Pittsburgh
University of Michigan
UC San Diego
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Washington University (in St. Louis, I assume)