What's New 

 

SFU HR Research People Team (RPT) will support the employment of USRA recipients

Simon Fraser University and the Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) signed a Voluntary Recognition Agreement (VRA) which agreed to make research assistants employees of the University and voluntarily recognize them as members of TSSU. This agreement was made to recognize the valuable contributions and important role research assistants play in advancing SFU’s research mission and it specifically included those students who are awarded a USRA.

SFU has been gathering information to determine how best to transition the USRAs in the VRA as they currently receive two sources of income – scholarship, paid directly to a student account and a “top up” amount which is employment and paid through payroll. The University has determined that in order to honor the Voluntary Recognition Memorandum with TSSU, the USRA recipients will receive all income in the form of employment. This means that the award plus any “top up” portion will be treated as employment income and will be paid through payroll for the Spring 2023 semester onward.

The SFU HR Research People Team (RPT) will support the employment of USRA recipients, and payroll will process the full amount as employment income. Please note the process for awarding the USRA involving GPS remains unchanged. RPT has and will continue to engage and collaborate with stakeholders throughout this transition.

This step of employing the USRA recipients ensures eligibility for this group to be included in the TSSU bargaining unit and recognizes research assistants’ right to unionize.

If you have any questions about the Voluntary Recognition between SFU and TSSU please contact the Labour Relations Team (lrteam@sfu.ca)

***

Work Study appointments will need to classify role and provide duties for Fall 2022

SFU and TSSU signed a Memorandum of Agreement in 2019 agreeing to make Research Assistants employees of SFU, including those accepted into the Work Study program. To assist with determining eligibility for the TSSU bargaining unit, those submitting a work study project must now classify the work to be done as either Research Assistant or Research Support. In Summer 2022, these categories were assigned when completing the PAF, as well as a list of duties.

Starting Fall 2022, the employment category will be assigned when completing the Work Study online submission form by the project submitter which will be transferred to the PAF when FAA is informed of hire selection, along with the funding string. FAA will then send the PAF to the project submitter who will need to fill out the rest of the PAF the same way that you do for all other research appointments (for more information, please visit the How to Complete the PAF).

If you have any questions regarding the MOA, contact Labour Relations at lrteam@sfu.ca. If you have questions about the categorizations for research appointment or the PAF completion process, please contact the research personnel team: rpinfo@sfu.ca.

***

The Postdoctoral Fellowship Appointment Form has been updated to allow future dated funding requests

The Postdoctoral Fellowship Appointment Form will now allow for future dated funding changes to be requested at the time of appointment or reappointment if the new funding source is known at that time.  We have updated the instructions to allow for future dated funding processing.  We made this change based on feedback we received through consultation with both the working group and directors of admin and are happy that we can facilitate and move this forward.

Please note that you must include notes in the FUTURE FUNDING PLAN section, bottom of page 2 - that you would like the change processed as we understand some departments use this section as a funding placeholder and do not wish to have future encumbrances processed.

If the FUTURE FUNDING SOURCES PLAN section (top of page 3) does not accommodate your needs (multiple funding strings etc.), then the funding details can be included in the same comments section displayed above. The new form is posted to the website here. We have updated the Funding Change and Termination PDF forms to reference the RP Team as well, and have posted to the RPT website. We will be informing both Research Accounting and Payroll of this change.

***

The Postdoctoral Fellows employee group has transitioned from Faculty Relations to the HR Research People Team (RPT)

As of April 1, 2022, The HR Research People Team (RPT) has transitioned the employment processes from Faculty Relations over to the RP Team. We would like to thank everyone involved in this transition.  Please note that Policy R 50.03 and related procedures have been updated to reference the RP Team instead of the Faculty Relations.  All employment matters and questions regarding Postdocs can still be emailed to postdoc@sfu.ca.

***

The Research Personnel Initative (RPI) has concluded its mandate as a project

The Research Personnel Initiative (RPI) has concluded its mandate as a project and has become part of Human Resources’ operations. The past two years of consultations with the research community resulted in the successful implementation of procedures and guidelines that enable faculty members and administrative staff to onboard research assistants and research support as employees of the university, with the benefits and protection of SFU and legislated employment practices.

The RPI team will continue to provide assistance with employment standards and practices, employee contracts and records, etc. for this employee group, although they will now be referred to as the “HR Research People Team”. Please continue to reach out to rp_info@sfu.ca.

***

Work Study appointments will need to classify role and provide duties as of Summer 2022

SFU and TSSU signed a Memorandum of Agreement in 2019 agreeing to make Research Assistants employees of SFU, including those accepted into the Work Study program. To assist with determining eligibility for the TSSU bargaining unit, those submitting a work study project must now classify the work to be done as either Research Assistant or Research Support.

Beginning with the Summer 2022 program, these categories will need to be assigned when completing the PAF. A list of duties will also need to be entered into the PAF the same way that you do for all other research appointments (for more information, please visit the How to Complete the PAF).

We are currently reviewing the submission process and supporting elements for Fall Term 2022 to ensure they meet long term needs, and will provide an update as soon as possible, however, the categorization must begin now. If you have any questions regarding the MOU, contact Labour Relations at lrteam@sfu.ca. If you have questions about the categorizations for research appointment or the PAF completion process, please contact the research personnel team: rpinfo@sfu.ca.

***

SFU's Seasonal Closure applies to eligible research employees

The university will be closed from Saturday, December 25, 2021 through to Monday, January 3, 2021 (reopening Tuesday, January 4, 2022). In addition to Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, three additional paid days off are included to provide uninterrupted time to enjoy time with family and friends during the holiday season.

As Christmas and Boxing Day fall on a weekend, the following Monday and Tuesday become paid days off in lieu, and the remainder of the weekdays (December 29, 30 and 31) will be paid days off for eligible employees. Note that only federal and provincial statutory holidays are mandatory paid days off. Boxing Day is not a statutory holiday; however, the university recognizes it as a holiday and supports its extension to all eligible employees – including research assistants and research support employees.  

Eligibility is based on whether the employee:

  • Holds an active research or research support appointment with a signed Offer of Employment created by the Research Personnel Initiative project team;
  • Has an appointment that begins before December 25, 2021 and ends after January 1, 2022; and
  • Will have worked 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).

More details, including some FAQs, can be found at: Supervising/statutory holidays, general holidays and seasonal closure, or speak with your department manager or email rp_info@sfu.ca for further information.

***

Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) benefit extended to all research employees

August 2021

In recognition of the valuable part our research employees play in helping the university become a leader in the delivery of cutting-edge research, the university has arranged for the addition of access to wellness services for those not already covered.

Effective September 1, 2021, those research employees who are not students at the university and their families, will have access to the confidential support services of Homewood Health – SFU’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provider. Staff at Homewood Health are certified in their fields, and their services are completely confidential. Visit the Employee and Family Assistance Program page for more information.

A few things to note:

  • There is no cost for these services.
  • There is no enrolment process, simply call 1-800-663-1142 or use their homeweb or mobile app.
  • Services are confidential and are available to immediate family members as well.
  • The service offering is the same as it is for other SFU employee groups.
  • Research employees who are students continue to be covered by the My Student Support Program (mySSP).

This benefit is available on an interim basis, as the forthcoming collective agreement may impact the offering; updates will be provided when bargaining is concluded.

Thank you to our research employees for their contributions to our Engaging Research goals!

Questions can be directed to the Wellness and Recovery team at rtwdm@sfu.ca or email the Research Personnel Initiative (RPI) team at rp_info@sfu.ca.

***

Collective Bargaining is Underway

Some facts about voluntary recognition and becoming a union member can be found here. Please direct any related questions to Labour Relations: lr_team@sfu.ca.

Only SFU employees are eligible for union membership. Once research personnel have signed an Offer of Employment with SFU, they will have the opportunity to become members of a union. Some Research Assistants may not meet the criteria to be recognized as eligible for employment status, and as such, they may not be eligible for TSSU membership.

A Few Things to Know:

  • Research Assistants and their work will not be affected during this period, although if they are identified as eligible to be an SFU employee they will be invited to sign an employment contract with the university.
  • SFU and TSSU signed a Memorandum of Agreement wherein SFU recognizes employees’ right to unionize.
  • Once those categorized as RAs are signed on as employees, they are eligible for TSSU membership. RAs may be contacted by TSSU in the meantime, as the union would like to begin preparing for collective bargaining on behalf of the RAs who do become employees. RAs may work with TSSU in advance of being confirmed as eligible and/or signing employment letters.
  • The possibility exists that not all current RAs will be categorized as RAs in the future, and as such, they may not be eligible for employment status or TSSU membership.
  • Future employment terms and conditions (including salaries and benefits) for eligible SFU employees, will be negotiated as part of the Collective Agreement bargaining process.
  • There will be no impact to grant funding during the project, and once a Collective Agreement has been signed, the project team will work with units to develop solutions that minimize impacts.

***

Understanding the Work Research Assistants Do

March 2021

The title “Research Assistant” is currently used for a variety of individuals, doing a variety of work. To better understand who is eligible for employee status and to facilitate a consistent onboarding process in the future, the project team reviewed a snapshot of individuals with that title across the departments against some role profiles and consulted with Principal Investigators.

An interesting finding was that many working under scholarship hold the title Research Assistant. As only those individuals receiving employment income are eligible for employment status, this group will not be transitioned as part of this phase. 

***

Information Gathering in Non-Academic Areas 

April 2021

The project team continues its work to identify those Research Assistants who are eligible for employment status. Since the initiative to transition Research Assistants (RA) to employees of the university began (as opposed to employees of the Principal Investigator), over one thousand offers of employment have been created by the Research Personnel Initiative’s (RPI) project team and at this point in time, more than 700 RAs are employees of SFU.

The work to transition appointments to employees began with those eligible RAs in Funds 13 and the 30s, and this is being expanded now to include new, re-appointments and extensions in all research grant and operating funds.

An observation from the project team’s work to date is that many appointments are currently made using the title “Research Assistant”, however these individuals may not be conducting research. The Payroll Appointment Form (PAF) used to create appointments has been updated to help ensure accuracy and the project team has been meeting with all departments to understand the types of appointments that are processed on the PAF, in particular, those who are identified as “Research Assistant” and “Other Non-continuing”. This work should be completed by the end of June; it will help ensure accuracy with record keeping and employment contracts.

***

Electronic Signatures for Offers of Employment

December 2020

We are using DocuSign to gather the appropriate signatures for appointments made under this process. Prospective employees will receive an email with a link to the documents to be reviewed and signed electronically, and their Supervisor/PI will be copied on these so they are aware of where the appointment is in the process.

***

Employee and Family Assistance Program Now Available to Postdoctoral Fellows

December 2020

In addition to having transitioned nearly 700 research personnel to university employment, the Research Personnel Initiative has advanced and received approval for Postdoctoral Fellows to be part of the Employee and Family Assistance Program and eligible Research Assistants to be included in the seasonal closure provision.

Launching a new employee group – our Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Assistants under funds 13 & 30s (at this time) – requires the definition of new procedures to ensure they receive the rights and benefits associated with employment status. These include governance in accordance with employment standards to provide the employee, their Supervisor and the university with the consistent application of legislated practices. For example, creating legal employment contracts in place of verbal or informally written agreements creates clarity and a shared understanding of the expectations of the work to be performed, compensation offered and any benefits to be provided.

There are many benefits to being an employee of SFU, including access to health and wellness resources and support programs, and the Research Personnel Initiative (RPI) has recently received approval for our Internal Postdoctoral Fellows to be included in the Employee and Family Assistance Program provided by Homewood Health.  

There is no requirement for enrolment, and nothing required of the departments or faculty. Services are completely confidential – Internal PDFs and their immediate family members can reach out to Homewood Health at any time. Read more about SFU’s Employee and Family Assistance Program.

Similarly, SFU’s seasonal holiday closure provision will also be extended to this group and to our recently transitioned Research Assistants (see news item below).

RPI continues to define the administrative practices, resources and benefits for this new group; in the meantime, these “quick wins” are effective immediately. 

***

SFU's Seasonal Closure Provision May Apply to Research Assistants 

November 2020

As announced by Labour Relations, the university will be closed from Friday, Dec 25, 2020 through to Friday, Jan 1, 2021 (reopening Monday, Jan 4, 2021). In addition to Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, three discretionary paid days off (Dec 29, 30 & 31) are included in order to provide uninterrupted time off to enjoy time with family and friends during the holiday season.

Research Assistants who have been transitioned to employees of the university as part of the RPI process may be eligible for this. Eligibility is based on whether the RA:

  • Is grant-funded in funds 13 or the 30s, with a signed Offer of Employment created by the Research Personnel Initiative project team;
  • Has an appointment that begins before December 25, 2020 and ends after January 1, 2021; and
  • Will have worked 15 of the 30 days prior to December 25, 2020 (there are no minimum hours required and no requirement for those days to be consecutive).

More details can be found on the Supervising tab, under Statutory holidays and seasonal closure, or speak with your department manager or email rp_info@sfu.ca for further information.

***

345 Research Assistants Officially Employees of the University 

October 2020

This number will continue to rise as the RPI team adds the preparation and processing of Offers of Employment for RA appointments with end dates beyond March 1, 2021 to their activities over the coming months. Congratulations to our growing body of university employed research personnel!

***

Welcome to SFU Employment: Research Assistants

September 2020

More than 160 Research Assistants (RAs) are now officially employees of the university! Many have held appointments in the past and many are new to SFU – congratulations to everyone! Thanks to those who completed the necessary documentation and to those who processed the appointments quickly. 

The first group of eligible RAs has been transitioned from being employed directly by the Principal Investigator to being employed by the university. Those in Fund 13 & the 30s who started or will start an appointment this semester received or will receive formal offers of employment reflecting the terms and conditions agreed to with their Supervisors.

This employee group will continue to be managed in alignment with BC’s Employment Standards Act and be entitled to statutory benefits (EI, CPP, WCB and EHT), and will now share the value of consistent application of university policies and practices and the rights associated with employment status. This includes the right to unionize; RAs who sign offers of employment may also be eligible to join the TSSU.

Compliance requirements supporting the new employment relationship means employment contracts and employee files need to be created based on information provided by their Supervisors and/or department administration staff, which involves a degree of time and effort. The project team is grateful for the contributions of Department leadership, a cross-department working group and members of Payroll, Finance and Research Accounting in shaping the necessary processes and documents, and to the faculty members and staff who participated in the onboarding steps required for this new employee group.

Together we welcome the first set of our valuable Research Assistants to SFU employment status!

 

Work Study appointments will be now be appointed through the RP process as of Summer 2022

SFU and TSSU signed a Memorandum of Agreement on DATE agreeing to make Research Assistants employees of SFU, including those accepted into the Work Study program. To assist with determining eligibility for the TSSU bargaining unit, those submitting a work study project must now classify the work to be done as either Research Assistant or Research Support.

Beginning with the Summer 2022 program, these categories will need to be assigned when completing the PAF. A list of duties will also need to be entered into the PAF the same way that you do for all other research appointments (for more information, please visit the How to Complete the PAF).

 

SFU's Seasonal Closure applies to eligible research employees

The university will be closed from Saturday, December 25, 2021 through to Monday, January 3, 2021 (reopening Tuesday, January 4, 2022). In addition to Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, three additional paid days off are included to provide uninterrupted time to enjoy time with family and friends during the holiday season.

As Christmas and Boxing Day fall on a weekend, the following Monday and Tuesday become paid days off in lieu, and the remainder of the weekdays (December 29, 30 and 31) will be paid days off for eligible employees. Note that only federal and provincial statutory holidays are mandatory paid days off. Boxing Day is not a statutory holiday; however, the university recognizes it as a holiday and supports its extension to all eligible employees – including research assistants and research support employees.  

Eligibility is based on whether the employee:

  • Holds an active research or research support appointment with a signed Offer of Employment created by the Research Personnel Initiative project team;
  • Has an appointment that begins before December 25, 2021 and ends after January 1, 2022; and
  • Will have worked 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).

More details, including some FAQs, can be found at: Supervising/statutory holidays, general holidays and seasonal closure, or speak with your department manager or email rp_info@sfu.ca for further information.

***

Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) benefit extended to all research employees

August 2021

In recognition of the valuable part our research employees play in helping the university become a leader in the delivery of cutting-edge research, the university has arranged for the addition of access to wellness services for those not already covered.

Effective September 1, 2021, those research employees who are not students at the university and their families, will have access to the confidential support services of Homewood Health – SFU’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provider. Staff at Homewood Health are certified in their fields, and their services are completely confidential. Visit the Employee and Family Assistance Program page for more information.

A few things to note:

  • There is no cost for these services.
  • There is no enrolment process, simply call 1-800-663-1142 or use their homeweb or mobile app.
  • Services are confidential and are available to immediate family members as well.
  • The service offering is the same as it is for other SFU employee groups.
  • Research employees who are students continue to be covered by the My Student Support Program (mySSP).

This benefit is available on an interim basis, as the forthcoming collective agreement may impact the offering; updates will be provided when bargaining is concluded.

Thank you to our research employees for their contributions to our Engaging Research goals!

Questions can be directed to the Wellness and Recovery team at rtwdm@sfu.ca or email the Research Personnel Initiative (RPI) team at rp_info@sfu.ca.

***

Collective Bargaining is Underway

Some facts about voluntary recognition and becoming a union member can be found here. Please direct any related questions to Labour Relations: lr_team@sfu.ca.

Only SFU employees are eligible for union membership. Once research personnel have signed an Offer of Employment with SFU, they will have the opportunity to become members of a union. Some Research Assistants may not meet the criteria to be recognized as eligible for employment status, and as such, they may not be eligible for TSSU membership.

A Few Things to Know:

  • Research Assistants and their work will not be affected during this period, although if they are identified as eligible to be an SFU employee they will be invited to sign an employment contract with the university.
  • SFU and TSSU signed a Memorandum of Agreement wherein SFU recognizes employees’ right to unionize.
  • Once those categorized as RAs are signed on as employees, they are eligible for TSSU membership. RAs may be contacted by TSSU in the meantime, as the union would like to begin preparing for collective bargaining on behalf of the RAs who do become employees. RAs may work with TSSU in advance of being confirmed as eligible and/or signing employment letters.
  • The possibility exists that not all current RAs will be categorized as RAs in the future, and as such, they may not be eligible for employment status or TSSU membership.
  • Future employment terms and conditions (including salaries and benefits) for eligible SFU employees, will be negotiated as part of the Collective Agreement bargaining process.
  • There will be no impact to grant funding during the project, and once a Collective Agreement has been signed, the project team will work with units to develop solutions that minimize impacts.

***

Understanding the Work Research Assistants Do

March 2021

The title “Research Assistant” is currently used for a variety of individuals, doing a variety of work. To better understand who is eligible for employee status and to facilitate a consistent onboarding process in the future, the project team reviewed a snapshot of individuals with that title across the departments against some role profiles and consulted with Principal Investigators.

An interesting finding was that many working under scholarship hold the title Research Assistant. As only those individuals receiving employment income are eligible for employment status, this group will not be transitioned as part of this phase. 

***

Information Gathering in Non-Academic Areas 

April 2021

The project team continues its work to identify those Research Assistants who are eligible for employment status. Since the initiative to transition Research Assistants (RA) to employees of the university began (as opposed to employees of the Principal Investigator), over one thousand offers of employment have been created by the Research Personnel Initiative’s (RPI) project team and at this point in time, more than 700 RAs are employees of SFU.

The work to transition appointments to employees began with those eligible RAs in Funds 13 and the 30s, and this is being expanded now to include new, re-appointments and extensions in all research grant and operating funds.

An observation from the project team’s work to date is that many appointments are currently made using the title “Research Assistant”, however these individuals may not be conducting research. The Payroll Appointment Form (PAF) used to create appointments has been updated to help ensure accuracy and the project team has been meeting with all departments to understand the types of appointments that are processed on the PAF, in particular, those who are identified as “Research Assistant” and “Other Non-continuing”. This work should be completed by the end of June; it will help ensure accuracy with record keeping and employment contracts.

***

Electronic Signatures for Offers of Employment

December 2020

We are using DocuSign to gather the appropriate signatures for appointments made under this process. Prospective employees will receive an email with a link to the documents to be reviewed and signed electronically, and their Supervisor/PI will be copied on these so they are aware of where the appointment is in the process.

***

Employee and Family Assistance Program Now Available to Postdoctoral Fellows

December 2020

In addition to having transitioned nearly 700 research personnel to university employment, the Research Personnel Initiative has advanced and received approval for Postdoctoral Fellows to be part of the Employee and Family Assistance Program and eligible Research Assistants to be included in the seasonal closure provision.

Launching a new employee group – our Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Assistants under funds 13 & 30s (at this time) – requires the definition of new procedures to ensure they receive the rights and benefits associated with employment status. These include governance in accordance with employment standards to provide the employee, their Supervisor and the university with the consistent application of legislated practices. For example, creating legal employment contracts in place of verbal or informally written agreements creates clarity and a shared understanding of the expectations of the work to be performed, compensation offered and any benefits to be provided.

There are many benefits to being an employee of SFU, including access to health and wellness resources and support programs, and the Research Personnel Initiative (RPI) has recently received approval for our Internal Postdoctoral Fellows to be included in the Employee and Family Assistance Program provided by Homewood Health.  

There is no requirement for enrolment, and nothing required of the departments or faculty. Services are completely confidential – Internal PDFs and their immediate family members can reach out to Homewood Health at any time. Read more about SFU’s Employee and Family Assistance Program.

Similarly, SFU’s seasonal holiday closure provision will also be extended to this group and to our recently transitioned Research Assistants (see news item below).

RPI continues to define the administrative practices, resources and benefits for this new group; in the meantime, these “quick wins” are effective immediately. 

***

SFU's Seasonal Closure Provision May Apply to Research Assistants 

November 2020

As announced by Labour Relations, the university will be closed from Friday, Dec 25, 2020 through to Friday, Jan 1, 2021 (reopening Monday, Jan 4, 2021). In addition to Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, three discretionary paid days off (Dec 29, 30 & 31) are included in order to provide uninterrupted time off to enjoy time with family and friends during the holiday season.

Research Assistants who have been transitioned to employees of the university as part of the RPI process may be eligible for this. Eligibility is based on whether the RA:

  • Is grant-funded in funds 13 or the 30s, with a signed Offer of Employment created by the Research Personnel Initiative project team;
  • Has an appointment that begins before December 25, 2020 and ends after January 1, 2021; and
  • Will have worked 15 of the 30 days prior to December 25, 2020 (there are no minimum hours required and no requirement for those days to be consecutive).

More details can be found on the Supervising tab, under Statutory holidays and seasonal closure, or speak with your department manager or email rp_info@sfu.ca for further information.

***

345 Research Assistants Officially Employees of the University 

October 2020

This number will continue to rise as the RPI team adds the preparation and processing of Offers of Employment for RA appointments with end dates beyond March 1, 2021 to their activities over the coming months. Congratulations to our growing body of university employed research personnel!

***

Welcome to SFU Employment: Research Assistants

September 2020

More than 160 Research Assistants (RAs) are now officially employees of the university! Many have held appointments in the past and many are new to SFU – congratulations to everyone! Thanks to those who completed the necessary documentation and to those who processed the appointments quickly. 

The first group of eligible RAs has been transitioned from being employed directly by the Principal Investigator to being employed by the university. Those in Fund 13 & the 30s who started or will start an appointment this semester received or will receive formal offers of employment reflecting the terms and conditions agreed to with their Supervisors.

This employee group will continue to be managed in alignment with BC’s Employment Standards Act and be entitled to statutory benefits (EI, CPP, WCB and EHT), and will now share the value of consistent application of university policies and practices and the rights associated with employment status. This includes the right to unionize; RAs who sign offers of employment may also be eligible to join the TSSU.

Compliance requirements supporting the new employment relationship means employment contracts and employee files need to be created based on information provided by their Supervisors and/or department administration staff, which involves a degree of time and effort. The project team is grateful for the contributions of Department leadership, a cross-department working group and members of Payroll, Finance and Research Accounting in shaping the necessary processes and documents, and to the faculty members and staff who participated in the onboarding steps required for this new employee group.

Together we welcome the first set of our valuable Research Assistants to SFU employment status!

 

Work Study appointments will be now be appointed through the RP process as of Summer 2022

SFU and TSSU signed a Memorandum of Agreement on DATE agreeing to make Research Assistants employees of SFU, including those accepted into the Work Study program. To assist with determining eligibility for the TSSU bargaining unit, those submitting a work study project must now classify the work to be done as either Research Assistant or Research Support.

Beginning with the Summer 2022 program, these categories will need to be assigned when completing the PAF. A list of duties will also need to be entered into the PAF the same way that you do for all other research appointments (for more information, please visit the How to Complete the PAF).

 

SFU's Seasonal Closure applies to eligible research employees

The university will be closed from Saturday, December 25, 2021 through to Monday, January 3, 2021 (reopening Tuesday, January 4, 2022). In addition to Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, three additional paid days off are included to provide uninterrupted time to enjoy time with family and friends during the holiday season.

As Christmas and Boxing Day fall on a weekend, the following Monday and Tuesday become paid days off in lieu, and the remainder of the weekdays (December 29, 30 and 31) will be paid days off for eligible employees. Note that only federal and provincial statutory holidays are mandatory paid days off. Boxing Day is not a statutory holiday; however, the university recognizes it as a holiday and supports its extension to all eligible employees – including research assistants and research support employees.  

Eligibility is based on whether the employee:

  • Holds an active research or research support appointment with a signed Offer of Employment created by the Research Personnel Initiative project team;
  • Has an appointment that begins before December 25, 2021 and ends after January 1, 2022; and
  • Will have worked 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).

More details, including some FAQs, can be found at: Supervising/statutory holidays, general holidays and seasonal closure, or speak with your department manager or email rp_info@sfu.ca for further information.

***

Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) benefit extended to all research employees

August 2021

In recognition of the valuable part our research employees play in helping the university become a leader in the delivery of cutting-edge research, the university has arranged for the addition of access to wellness services for those not already covered.

Effective September 1, 2021, those research employees who are not students at the university and their families, will have access to the confidential support services of Homewood Health – SFU’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provider. Staff at Homewood Health are certified in their fields, and their services are completely confidential. Visit the Employee and Family Assistance Program page for more information.

A few things to note:

  • There is no cost for these services.
  • There is no enrolment process, simply call 1-800-663-1142 or use their homeweb or mobile app.
  • Services are confidential and are available to immediate family members as well.
  • The service offering is the same as it is for other SFU employee groups.
  • Research employees who are students continue to be covered by the My Student Support Program (mySSP).

This benefit is available on an interim basis, as the forthcoming collective agreement may impact the offering; updates will be provided when bargaining is concluded.

Thank you to our research employees for their contributions to our Engaging Research goals!

Questions can be directed to the Wellness and Recovery team at rtwdm@sfu.ca or email the Research Personnel Initiative (RPI) team at rp_info@sfu.ca.

***

Collective Bargaining is Underway

Some facts about voluntary recognition and becoming a union member can be found here. Please direct any related questions to Labour Relations: lr_team@sfu.ca.

Only SFU employees are eligible for union membership. Once research personnel have signed an Offer of Employment with SFU, they will have the opportunity to become members of a union. Some Research Assistants may not meet the criteria to be recognized as eligible for employment status, and as such, they may not be eligible for TSSU membership.

A Few Things to Know:

  • Research Assistants and their work will not be affected during this period, although if they are identified as eligible to be an SFU employee they will be invited to sign an employment contract with the university.
  • SFU and TSSU signed a Memorandum of Agreement wherein SFU recognizes employees’ right to unionize.
  • Once those categorized as RAs are signed on as employees, they are eligible for TSSU membership. RAs may be contacted by TSSU in the meantime, as the union would like to begin preparing for collective bargaining on behalf of the RAs who do become employees. RAs may work with TSSU in advance of being confirmed as eligible and/or signing employment letters.
  • The possibility exists that not all current RAs will be categorized as RAs in the future, and as such, they may not be eligible for employment status or TSSU membership.
  • Future employment terms and conditions (including salaries and benefits) for eligible SFU employees, will be negotiated as part of the Collective Agreement bargaining process.
  • There will be no impact to grant funding during the project, and once a Collective Agreement has been signed, the project team will work with units to develop solutions that minimize impacts.

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Understanding the Work Research Assistants Do

March 2021

The title “Research Assistant” is currently used for a variety of individuals, doing a variety of work. To better understand who is eligible for employee status and to facilitate a consistent onboarding process in the future, the project team reviewed a snapshot of individuals with that title across the departments against some role profiles and consulted with Principal Investigators.

An interesting finding was that many working under scholarship hold the title Research Assistant. As only those individuals receiving employment income are eligible for employment status, this group will not be transitioned as part of this phase. 

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Information Gathering in Non-Academic Areas 

April 2021

The project team continues its work to identify those Research Assistants who are eligible for employment status. Since the initiative to transition Research Assistants (RA) to employees of the university began (as opposed to employees of the Principal Investigator), over one thousand offers of employment have been created by the Research Personnel Initiative’s (RPI) project team and at this point in time, more than 700 RAs are employees of SFU.

The work to transition appointments to employees began with those eligible RAs in Funds 13 and the 30s, and this is being expanded now to include new, re-appointments and extensions in all research grant and operating funds.

An observation from the project team’s work to date is that many appointments are currently made using the title “Research Assistant”, however these individuals may not be conducting research. The Payroll Appointment Form (PAF) used to create appointments has been updated to help ensure accuracy and the project team has been meeting with all departments to understand the types of appointments that are processed on the PAF, in particular, those who are identified as “Research Assistant” and “Other Non-continuing”. This work should be completed by the end of June; it will help ensure accuracy with record keeping and employment contracts.

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Electronic Signatures for Offers of Employment

December 2020

We are using DocuSign to gather the appropriate signatures for appointments made under this process. Prospective employees will receive an email with a link to the documents to be reviewed and signed electronically, and their Supervisor/PI will be copied on these so they are aware of where the appointment is in the process.

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Employee and Family Assistance Program Now Available to Postdoctoral Fellows

December 2020

In addition to having transitioned nearly 700 research personnel to university employment, the Research Personnel Initiative has advanced and received approval for Postdoctoral Fellows to be part of the Employee and Family Assistance Program and eligible Research Assistants to be included in the seasonal closure provision.

Launching a new employee group – our Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Assistants under funds 13 & 30s (at this time) – requires the definition of new procedures to ensure they receive the rights and benefits associated with employment status. These include governance in accordance with employment standards to provide the employee, their Supervisor and the university with the consistent application of legislated practices. For example, creating legal employment contracts in place of verbal or informally written agreements creates clarity and a shared understanding of the expectations of the work to be performed, compensation offered and any benefits to be provided.

There are many benefits to being an employee of SFU, including access to health and wellness resources and support programs, and the Research Personnel Initiative (RPI) has recently received approval for our Internal Postdoctoral Fellows to be included in the Employee and Family Assistance Program provided by Homewood Health.  

There is no requirement for enrolment, and nothing required of the departments or faculty. Services are completely confidential – Internal PDFs and their immediate family members can reach out to Homewood Health at any time. Read more about SFU’s Employee and Family Assistance Program.

Similarly, SFU’s seasonal holiday closure provision will also be extended to this group and to our recently transitioned Research Assistants (see news item below).

RPI continues to define the administrative practices, resources and benefits for this new group; in the meantime, these “quick wins” are effective immediately. 

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SFU's Seasonal Closure Provision May Apply to Research Assistants 

November 2020

As announced by Labour Relations, the university will be closed from Friday, Dec 25, 2020 through to Friday, Jan 1, 2021 (reopening Monday, Jan 4, 2021). In addition to Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, three discretionary paid days off (Dec 29, 30 & 31) are included in order to provide uninterrupted time off to enjoy time with family and friends during the holiday season.

Research Assistants who have been transitioned to employees of the university as part of the RPI process may be eligible for this. Eligibility is based on whether the RA:

  • Is grant-funded in funds 13 or the 30s, with a signed Offer of Employment created by the Research Personnel Initiative project team;
  • Has an appointment that begins before December 25, 2020 and ends after January 1, 2021; and
  • Will have worked 15 of the 30 days prior to December 25, 2020 (there are no minimum hours required and no requirement for those days to be consecutive).

More details can be found on the Supervising tab, under Statutory holidays and seasonal closure, or speak with your department manager or email rp_info@sfu.ca for further information.

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345 Research Assistants Officially Employees of the University 

October 2020

This number will continue to rise as the RPI team adds the preparation and processing of Offers of Employment for RA appointments with end dates beyond March 1, 2021 to their activities over the coming months. Congratulations to our growing body of university employed research personnel!

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Welcome to SFU Employment: Research Assistants

September 2020

More than 160 Research Assistants (RAs) are now officially employees of the university! Many have held appointments in the past and many are new to SFU – congratulations to everyone! Thanks to those who completed the necessary documentation and to those who processed the appointments quickly. 

The first group of eligible RAs has been transitioned from being employed directly by the Principal Investigator to being employed by the university. Those in Fund 13 & the 30s who started or will start an appointment this semester received or will receive formal offers of employment reflecting the terms and conditions agreed to with their Supervisors.

This employee group will continue to be managed in alignment with BC’s Employment Standards Act and be entitled to statutory benefits (EI, CPP, WCB and EHT), and will now share the value of consistent application of university policies and practices and the rights associated with employment status. This includes the right to unionize; RAs who sign offers of employment may also be eligible to join the TSSU.

Compliance requirements supporting the new employment relationship means employment contracts and employee files need to be created based on information provided by their Supervisors and/or department administration staff, which involves a degree of time and effort. The project team is grateful for the contributions of Department leadership, a cross-department working group and members of Payroll, Finance and Research Accounting in shaping the necessary processes and documents, and to the faculty members and staff who participated in the onboarding steps required for this new employee group.

Together we welcome the first set of our valuable Research Assistants to SFU employment status!

 

Additional Information