Supervising Research Employees
The Supervisor will continue to be responsible for overseeing their employees’ performance and ensuring compliance with employment standards. Employment practices – BC's Employment Standards Act (ESA) and SFU’s policies and standards – apply to employment practices for this group.
A few things to note
ESA requires employers keep a record of hours worked. Accurate records about when employees take their vacation or work overtime will:
- ensure the employee is paid accurately
- reduce the risk of overpayment of entitlements
- ensure accurate payout of vacation time at appointment end
- minimize the risk to the university if there are issues or disputes
An appointment with multiple funding source(s) can now be changed with one PAF.
ESA requires vacation time or pay, statutory holiday and overtime pay, as applicable.
ESA and the university require the maintenance of accurate records to ensure the employee is paid appropriately and to provide clarity in case facts are challenged in the future.
- Supervisors use myINFO timesheets for hourly employees
- Supervisors may use the template created by HR RPT or their own method for salaried employees (this may include saving emails, handwritten notes or customized tracking forms).
- Salaried employees’ hours may be tracked using “exception reporting”. Working hours are typically “regular” and therefore if a regular schedule is identified it is only necessary to capture exceptions to the regular schedule.
- Hourly employees often work irregular hours, and as such, myINFO timesheets are required for capturing actual hours worked in order to pay them accurately.
- Department may have internal processes for reporting, entering and reconciliation of employee time.
- Tracking methods:
Extending an appointment
For existing appointments that are being extended beyond the end date noted in the employment offer, with no break in employment, a PAF must be completed to indicate the new end date for the employment record.
If there are also to be significant changes to an individual's terms of employment, a new Offer of Employment may be required. Please note any significant changes in the Comments box when completing the PAF.
Changing the funding source
When the need arises to change the funding source for a research employee during their appointment period, use a PAF to indicate the change. This can be done without affecting the terms of the appointment.
- It is not necessary to submit a PAF for each funding source.
- It is not necessary to end an appointment then re-appoint in order to change the funding source.
- It is necessary for the grant’s signing authority to sign the PAF.
- It is necessary for Research Accounting and/or Finance to review the change.
Indicating the funding source(s) for new appointments
When appointing a new employee, use page 1 of the revised PAF to indicate where the employee’s pay is to be charged to.
- Project #: 6-8 digits
- Object Code: 4 digits
- Fund #: 2 digits
- Department: 4 digits
- Program #: 5 digits, enter 00000 if no program code
The complete accounting string must be entered in order for the PAF to be processed.
Revising the funding source(s) for existing appointments
If only changing the funding source(s) during an appointment:.
“Funding Change Only” box at the top of the form to indicate that only a change to the funding source is required.
New funding source information and the start date of the new funding source in the Funding Source top table on page 1 - the start date being the day immediately following the end date to the original funding source.
Current funding source information and end date of that funding in the Funding Source bottom table on page 1.
- Changing the funding source end date on the current funding source does not affect the appointment end date, it indicates when the charges to that funding source end.
If there are also significant changes to the terms and conditions of employment e.g. increase or decrease in the number of hours worked, decrease in the rate of pay or a change in job duties, a new Offer of Employment is likely required. See the Appointing page to initiate this. In this case do not check the “Funding Change Only” box.
If the change in funding source(s) affects the Supervisor’s ability to employ the individual (e.g. insufficient funds, grant end date prior to the appointment end date, etc.), the appointment must be ended early. See Concluding to initiate this.
Change to the terms of employment
If the Supervisor changes any of the terms and conditions captured in the Offer of Employment signed by the employee, a new offer must be created.
ESA requires a signed employment contract before work begins. When rewriting the terms of employment, the employee should continue to work under current terms until the new offer is signed:
- Complete a PAF
- Follow the steps for re-appointing
The information to be captured on the PAF will include the new terms and conditions of employment. It is not necessary to resubmit the documentation that was provided for the original appointment.
Accurate information about what’s expected and what’s offered will minimize the risk to the university if there are issues or disputes.
Vacation and unpaid time
Employees should be encouraged to take their vacation time in order to refresh.
ESA requires employers provide vacation time for salaried employees, or 4% of hourly employees’ pay for hourly employees.
Hours not worked by hourly employees should be tracked as ‘unpaid time’ as they receive pay in lieu of vacation time.
Vacation time earned but not taken must be paid out at the end of an employment contract (when the employment relationship ends), regardless of the reason for ending (the only exceptions are if the work was for less than 5 calendar days or if the employee is being re-appointed):
- If the employee has not yet taken their earned vacation time, a payout equal to the amount of vacation time owing (earned but not taken) will be added to their last pay.
- If the end date of the employee’s current appointment is extended, their vacation carries forward since the employment relationship continues. Note the potential for significant expense if too much unused vacation time accrues.
- According to BC’s Employment Standards Act, the employee cannot skip taking vacation time and just receive vacation pay i.e. they may not choose to receive a payout instead of taking their earned vacation time.
Supervisors must track vacation time taken, to limit the risk of overpayment.
ESA requires employers pay overtime to employees who work more than 40 hours per week or 8 hours in a day:
- time and a half for any time worked beyond 8 hours in a day, up to 12 hours
- double time after 12 hours in a day
- applies to hourly and salaried employees
Overtime is based on the total number of hours worked. RAs may already hold other paid roles that contribute to the total number of hours worked – departments should check for other work assignments at SFU to ensure the expected hours are within the proposed Offer of Employment. This can be done by signing into myINFO and running the query: SFUDA_WORK_ASSIGNMENTS.
Overtime must be approved in writing in advance of the time worked.
According to the ESA, some employees qualify to be paid for statutory holidays:
- employed for 30 calendar days and having worked or earned wages (e.g. paid vacation days or statutory holidays) on 15 of the 30 days before a statutory holiday
- equal to an average day's pay if they do not work on the day (total wages ÷ number of days worked)
- time and a half for hours worked on a statutory holiday
- double-time for hours worked over 12 hours on a statutory holiday
- How statutory holiday pay is calculated
- Statutory and general holidays at SFU
Applies to hourly and salaried employees.
Research employees may be eligible for paid time off as part of the university's seasonal closure benefit. Eligibility is based on whether the employee:
- Is grant-funded with a signed Offer of Employment created by HR RPT;
- Has an appointment that begins before December 25, 2021 and ends after January 1, 2022; and
- Will have worked and earned wages on 15 of the 30 days prior to December 25, 2021 - there are no minimum hours required and no requirement for those days to be consecutive.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. If the employee must work during this period, are they entitled to paid time off at another time?
Yes. The provision is for paid time off; if it can’t be taken during the closure period the Supervisor can give the employee a different day off or pay those hours out.
2. If the employee works during the closure and will be taking time off in lieu, is there a deadline by which they must take this time?
No, there is no deadline, but it is recommended that Supervisors ensure their employees take this time off as soon as it is reasonable to do so.
3. If an hourly employee wasn’t scheduled to work during the closure week, are they entitled to pay in lieu?
The intent is to provide time off without a loss of pay during the closure period, which means research employees are entitled to the amount of pay they would have received if they had worked. The provision is for those who are expected to work during the closure period. There is no need to compensate those not scheduled for work during this time; however, the Supervisor may choose to do so at their discretion.
4. How much time can be taken and how do I record time off?
The employee is entitled to the equivalent amount of time they were scheduled to work during that period. There is no need to record time for Salaried employees. For Hourly employees, record paid time off on your timesheets, using the payroll codes: 285 for closure days and 235 for General Holiday days.
5. Is Boxing Day (December 26) a statutory holiday?
While some of the university’s collective agreements include Boxing Day as a paid holiday, it is not a statutory holiday according to BC's Employment Standards Act.
6. Is the university paying for this time off?
This is not a centrally funded provision. Funding for research employee time taken or paid out will come from the funding source associated with the appointment.
Leaves of absence
All research employees are eligible for leaves in accordance with BC's Employment Standards Act. The chart below summarizes the types of paid and unpaid leaves, per the ESA website (last updated August 14, 2020).
Types of leave include (but not limited to): COVID-19, personal injury or illness, maternity, parental, family responsibility, compassionate care, bereavement, and jury duty.
Refer to BC's Employment Standards Guide for detailed guidelines:
- Types of leaves
- Specific requirements for each type of leave
- Chart of ESA leaves and requirements (pdf)
- Guidelines related to Maternity, Paternity and Adoption leaves (pdf)
Please contact the RPI team's HR Business Partner with questions related to leaves of absence: email@example.com.