Co-op Students As Employees of the Workplace
When on a co-op work term, a student is an employee of the co-op employer and not an employee or agent of SFU. In all matters relating to work activities, he or she will be under the supervision and direction of the employer and not under the supervision and direction of SFU.
Students should expect to be treated as employees of the organization and are to observe all the employer's rules and regulations. Students are encouraged to contact a co-op coordinator regarding their concerns about their co-op work.
Students are encouraged to review labour standards or policies established by the government for the region in which they will be employed. More information on employment standards in the Province of British Columbia can be found at www.labour.gov.bc.ca/esb.
Students are paid by their co-op employer. Salary amounts range and generally reflect the particular industry sectors, and are generally above minimum wage. The salary levels are determined by employers, and the amount may be included in the job posting. In some cases, primarily with co-op work terms outside of Canada, remuneration may include items such as travel and accommodation, in addition to salary.
Income Taxes and Other Statutory Deductions from Wages
At the beginning of the work term in Canada, students will be required by the employer to complete a TD1 form for income tax purposes. The employer can provide a more detailed explanation of the TD1 form when the student commences the work term. Employers are required to deduct income tax, Canada Pension and Employment Insurance premiums from employees. Students will receive a T2202A tax form from the SFU Registrar's Office each year for tuition fees. Tax credits are available for amounts paid as tuition, including tuition for co- op work terms. Students are not eligible, however, for monthly education tax credits for the duration they are on a co-op work term. Most students completing two co-op work terms in a taxation year will have income in excess of personal deduction levels and it is the student’s responsibility to plan accordingly. International students completing co-op work terms in Canada and students completing co-op work terms outside of Canada should consult the Canada Revenue Agency website for more information on income taxes.
It is the student's responsibility to notify the employer if he or she will be absent or late for work. As a temporary employee, any absences due to illness, compassionate leave, jury duty, etc., may mean a loss in pay. In addition, the students will generally not receive benefits and/or privileges normally available to permanent employees.
Any request for time off should be discussed with the employer with as much advance notice as possible. Since co-op positions are short term, employers do not expect to provide vacation time.
Students are responsible for ensuring that they have adequate medical coverage during the work term.
Students placed for work terms outside of Canada should ensure that they have adequate medical or health insurance for the duration of their time away.
International students must ensure that they have adequate medical or health insurance for the entire duration of their stay in Canada including co-op work terms.
More information on medical or health insurance for SFU students is available at the website of SFU Health and Counselling at www.students.sfu.ca/health.
In the Province of British Columbia, Canada, WorkSafeBC promotes workplace health and safety for the workers and employers. WorkSafeBC consults with and educates employers and workers on and monitors compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation Act.
In the event of work-related injuries or diseases, WorkSafeBC works with the affected parties to provide return-to-work rehabilitation, compensation, health care benefits, and a range of other services (from the website of WorkSafeBC: www.worksafebc.com).
In British Columbia, co-op students are eligible to receive worker's compensation for a work-related injury or illness. The employer assumes the cost of worker’s compensation and the coverage begins on the first day of the work term.
For information on worker’s compensation in the provinces and territories of Canada beyond British Columbia, students should consult the worker’s compensation regulations for that province or territory.
Upon acceptance of a co-op position in countries and regions outside of Canada, students should consult the International Co-op Coordinator as well as the website and staff of SFU International (www.sfu.ca/international) about worker’s compensation in the countries or regions of their upcoming work terms.
Transportation and Housing
Unless specifically stated in the job description or interview, students are responsible for all transportation and accommodation costs arising from a Co-operative Education position. On occasion, employers offer to cover the travel and relocation expenses associated with co-op work terms outside of the Lower Mainland. The co-op job description may include such information, but details should be discussed when the job is offered.
Students are also responsible for finding their own accommodation while on a work term. If he or she resides on-campus, they may continue to live on-campus if the position is in the Lower Mainland. If the co-op employment is out of town, students are advised to check the website of Association for Co-operative Education in British Columbia/Yukon (ACE) at www.co-op.bc.ca for information and resources on housing for co-op students.
Confidentiality in the Workplace
During a work term, students may have access to information of a confidential and/or proprietary nature. It is their responsibility to find out about the employer's policies regarding confidential information. Students should understand how their access to confidential information might restrict their work activities. Students should be aware that they could be held liable for damages that an employer might suffer if they improperly release information.
Safety in the Workplace
It is important for students to have a safe and secure work environment. Students should be aware of and follow the employer's safety policies and procedures. If concerned about occupational health and safety issues in the workplace, or if injured on the job, the student must notify the supervisor and a co-op coordinator immediately.
Further information and related resources on occupational health and safety is available on the website of SFU's Environmental Health and Safety at www.ehs.sfu.ca or the website of SFU Campus Security at www.sfu.ca/security.
Students with confirmed work terms outside of Canada should consult the International Co-op Coordinator and SFU International for resources and pre-departure information and preparation with regards to safety.
Discrimination and Harassment
It is the student's responsibility to conduct him or herself in a way that is free of discrimination and harassment and also their right to experience a discrimination- free and harassment-free workplace. If any student has concerns regarding the latter, he or she should contact their co-op coordinator immediately.
Human Rights Code and related information for the Province of British Columbia are available on the website of BC Human Rights Tribunal at www.bchrt.bc.ca.
Strike or Lockout
If a strike or lockout occurs during co-op employment, students should discuss the situation with both their supervisor and co-op coordinator immediately. The final decision to respect or to cross a picket line rests with the student in consultation with the supervisor. Students should keep their co-op coordinators informed of such situations at all times.