Employees in Research

SFU is Canada's engaged university - welcome to the community!

By creating and mobilizing knowledge, nurturing partnerships and harnessing the power of research, engagement at SFU is an instrument for change, and we're pleased you're part of the team to realize that vision. To become fully engaged in our dynamic and growing research community, we encourage you to review our goals and activities for the future: 


Orientation for new employees

If you are a new employee, you will have received a link to the New Employee Orientation along with your Offer of Employment please take time to review this.

Your Supervisor is responsible for helping employees feel welcome on their team and as part of the university. This includes an overview of SFU’s culture; an understanding of the faculty/ department’s structure, procedures and tools for carrying out duties; training and expectations for the role, and a safety orientation.


Benefits and wellness

All university employees receive statutory (mandatory) benefits: Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Employment Insurance (EI), Workers’ Compensation (WCB) and the provincial medical plan, Health Insurance BC (HIBC). The grant pays the employer’s portion of premiums, and some premiums are paid by the employee - these will automatically be deducted from your pay. Deduction details can be found on your pay advice at myinfo.sfu.ca.

Some grant-funded research employees are also eligible for discretionary benefits (extended health and dental). Eligibility is determined by two things:

1.  the funding agency’s guidelines for how grant funds may be used – many do not allow the grant holder to pay benefits from the fund;

then, if the grant allows:

2.  the Supervisor’s discretion – each PI determines the terms and conditions of employment on an individual basis, including whether they offer discretionary benefits.

Your Offer of Employment will state whether you are being offered discretionary benefits in addition to mandatory benefits.

Note that NSERC, SSHRC and CIHR do not allow their grant holders to use funds to pay for discretionary benefits for grnat-funded research employees.


Discretionary benefits coverage is not automatic – employees must enroll!

If your Offer letter specifies that you are eligible for extended health and dental benefits (discretionary):

If eligible, you will receive the relevant enrolment forms with your Offer of Employment. Applications and inquiries about benefits should be submitted to: hradmin@sfu.ca.


Research employees (and their families) have free access to SFU's Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) and the university's many resources to support employee wellness, mental health and recovery. Research employees are currently covered until December 31, 2024


Your pay, vacation, overtime and holidays  

Hours worked, vacation entitlement, overtime and statutory holiday pay are governed by BC's ESA. This means the provincial guidelines offer the miminum standard, although the employer may choose to offer more.

getting paid

SFU pays its employees on a bi-weekly basis. Your pay will be direct deposited to your bank every other Friday. The Payroll department in Finance is responsible for this function.

Your rate of pay is determined by your Supervisor, although it must meet BC’s minimum wage requirement. Your specific compensation details can be found in the Offer of Employment you signed before starting work. 

Hourly vs Salaried

Some employees are hired on an "hourly" basis, others as "salaried". 


If you are a “salaried” employee, you are entitled to receive a minimum of 2 weeks’ time off per full year of service. This amount will be pro-rated if your appointment is shorter than a full year, provided you have worked for at least 5 days. For appointments that are shorter than 4 months, your Supervisor has the option of paying a minimum of 4% in lieu of that vacation time – if this has been agreed to, it will appear on your Offer of Employment and on your pay advice.

If you are entitled to time off, but have not taken your full vacation entitlement at the end of your appointment, the remaining amount will be paid to you on your final pay. For this reason, it’s important to request vacation time in writing and/or follow your Supervisor’s procedures for keeping track of your time off.

If you are an “hourly” employee, you will be paid a minimum of 4% in lieu of vacation pay on top of your hourly rate. There is no legal requirement for you to take time off, and any time you do take off would be without pay. 

We encourage our employees to take their vacation time in order to refresh


Overtime must be approved in writing by your Supervisor, before it's worked.

Any hours worked over 8 in one day or 40 in one week are subject to overtime rates - across all your roles at SFU (some employees hold more than one appointment). 

Note that overtime hours must be pre-approved in writing by your Supervisor.

Proper timekeeping will help ensure your pay is accurate, so be sure to check with your Supervisor and follow protocols for capturing hours worked, requesting and taking time off. 

Statutory & general Holidays

"Statutory" holidays are public holidays recognized by the federal government and/or the province.  

Employers may also allow paid time off for "general" holidays for occasions e.g. Boxing Day, or days of commemoration e.g. Truth and Reconciliation Day (a federal but not provincial statutory holiday).  

There are currently 10 statutory holidays in BC, and SFU recognizes 12 general holidays.

You are eligible for statutory holiday pay once you've been employed for 30 days, and if you have 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 you 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  

Seasonal Closure

The university also extends paid time off to eligible employees during the Christmas holiday period.

Eligibility is based on whether the employee:

  • Is grant-funded with a signed Offer of Employment;
  • Has an appointment that begins before December 25 and ends after January 1; and
  • Will have worked and earned wages on 15 of the 30 days prior to December 25 - there are no minimum hours required and no requirement for those days to be consecutive.

If you are a part-time employee and/or your hours are variable, eligiblity would depend on whether you were/ would be already scheduled to work during that period.


How employment ends

Employment termination is governed by BC's ESA.

Your Offer of Employment reflects the date your employment is expected to end.


When your employment ends as agreed to in your Offer of Employment, your Supervisor will conduct the university’s standard Separation Checklist to collect equipment, keys etc. and no other action is required.


Should you decide to resign and end your employment early, you’ll need to give written notice to your Supervisor (ideally 2 weeks) that you are resigning, and indicate when your last day of work will be.

Your Supervisor will submit this notice to the HR Research People Team.

If you’re a “salaried” employee and have not received pay in lieu of vacation time, it is strongly recommended that you take your vacation during your appointment, however, you will be paid out for any vacation earned but not taken and on your final pay, unless you’ve been receiving pay in lieu of vacation.

If you’re an “hourly” employee, you will have been paid your vacation entitlement on each pay and therefore you won’t receive a payout at the end of your employment.

Your Supervisor will walk you through the university’s standard Separation Checklist on your last day.


Regardless of the reason for ending employment early (insufficient funding, lack of work, etc.), the university is required to provide sufficient written notice or pay equal to the amount of the notice period.

The amount of notice is determined by the length of service, according to ESA Guidelines. This is typically: no notice or payout required if less than 3 months worked, 1 week if you’ve worked between 3 months but less than a year, and 2 weeks for 1-3 years worked.

Your Supervisor will submit a notice of early employment end to the HR Research People Team and you’ll receive a "notice of termination" letter from SFU, informing you that your appointment is ending.

If you are a “salaried” employee, you will be paid out for any vacation earned but not taken and this will be noted on your final pay advice, unless you’ve been receiving pay in lieu of vacation.

If you are an “hourly” employee, you will have been paid your vacation entitlement on each pay and therefore you won’t receive a payout at the end of your employment.


Access to university facilities, tools, services and resources

There are many facilities and services available to the SFU community (students, faculty, staff and alumni), however, these are not all available and free to temporary employees, and grant-funded research employees are temporary employees. Be sure to check with each facility or service to determine whether you have access and/or your access is covered by “staff benefits” or you need to pay the relevant fees.

NOTE that all Canvas courses and any online courses e.g. animal care, ethics, require an active computing ID.  

Please also speak with your Supervisor and explore the SFU website for other amenties and services that might be available.


Your employment rights 

BC’s Employment Standards Act (ESA) provides employers and employees with guidelines to ensure the consistent and legal application of employment practices. Refer to the ESA website and SFU’s policies and procedures for facts and procedural information. 

Some research employees are also eligible to become a member of a union. Please contact Labour Relations with questions: lr_team@sfu.ca.



Please speak with your Supervisor if you have questions that aren’t answered here, browse sfu.ca, or email the project team: rp_info@sfu.ca