Appointing or Re-Appointing Research Personnel

New appointments and re-appointments for research employees require an Offer of Employment from the university, that reflect the terms and conditions agreed to by the Supervisor and the prospective employee. This offer provides clarity for the university, the Supervisor and the employee, and as such, they should accurately reflect what will be expected of and provided by each party.

Payroll Appointment Form (PAF) must be submitted to initiate an Offer of Employment, which when signed by the employee becomes their employment contract.  

A few things to note

NEW February 2022Work Study appointments will need to classify role and provide duties to the Research People Team as of Summer 2022.

Offers of Employment are generated only by the HR Research People Team. Review the guidelines for discussing employment with prospective employees to help ensure conversations are effective and compliant.

An Offer of Employment is not considered complete until signed acceptance by the employee has been received (via DocuSign).

A signed Offer of Employment is required before employees can begin work.

A valid work permit, SIN Confirmation Letter and other relevant documents must be received by SFU before a temporary foreign worker can begin work and be paid.

Be sure to check immigration services for eligibility to work in Canada.

Research employees working outside the province of BC require WorkSafeBC coverage. Learn more about coverage here.

The Supervisor is responsible for recruiting, appointing, training, and supervising research employees.

BC's ESA requires the tracking of employees’ time to ensure compliance with vacation, overtime, early ending notice periods and/or payouts are handled appropriately.

BC's ESA requires overtime pay for employees who work more than 40 hours per week “total employment”:

  • Note that research employees 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. Log into myINFO and run query: SFUDA_WORK_ASSIGNMENTS.


Types of employment contracts 

There is no minimum duration for research employee appointments.

SFU employment contracts are typically “indefinite term” although the option exists to create a “fixed term” employment contract.

Fixed term employment contracts are typically used for appointments less than 60 days when there is no expectation of renewal or for an early end to the appointment.

In the case where individuals have had previous employment with the department or PI, a new contract is required if there has been a break between contracts, even if the appointment is to hold the same terms as previously.

Note that when an appointment ends on its intended end date (not early), SFU is required to send an Notification of Appointment End letter to the employee, regardless of whether the individual will be appointed with the same terms at a later time.


Duties to be performed

The Supervisor determines the work the employee will perform. The Offer of Employment needs to capture an accurate description of this work, as it will form the basis of the Offer of Employment.

checklist of duties is available to choose from, or custom ones may be used - type or paste from another source into the Duties Performed box, or attach a Word document: 

  • The duties listed should be those that occupy the majority of the employee’s time but need not include every eventuality. 
  • All employment contracts will contain wording to allow for a degree of ‘other duties as assigned by the Supervisor’.

Note that there is no requirement to use the title “research assistant” as in the past. Appointments may be made with different titles that more appropriately reflect the work being done. 


Rate of pay & benefits

Rates of pay are determined by the Supervisor but must meet BC’s minimum wage.

  • The Supervisor’s grant is responsible for CPP, EI, WCB, EHT.
  • Supervisors may be able to offer health and dental coverage if allowed by the granting agency (employer portion of benefits is 50%, the RA pays 50%). Health benefits are still considered discretionary. 
  • Employees who are offered discretionary health benefits are not enrolled automatically. Once a signed Offer of Employment is received by HR RPT, employees who are eligible for benefits will receive enrolment forms to complete and submit to HR.     

Use this Calculator to estimate:

  • minimum amount of time required and/or 
  • cost to the grant.

See Planning for information about vacation pay and benefits.


Employee/employment documentation

SFU requires the collection of information about each new employee in order to pay them:  

For temporary foreign workers:

  •    SIN Confirmation Letter with SIN number and expiry date
  •    Work permit/Study Permit

If this information has not changed since the last appointment, there is no requirement to re-submit for re-appointments.

The HR RP Team maintains research employee files.


Steps for creating an appointment or re-appointing

A signed Offer of Employment is required from all employees before they can begin work.

The following process applies when appointing or re-appointing research employee:

  • Department or Supervisors completes a PAF  
  • Departments request relevant documents from the employee
  • Departments submit PAF and documents to Financial Reporting or Research Accounting as appropriate
  • HR RPT creates Offer of Employment and sends a copy to the prospective employee via DocuSign
  • RA signs and returns to HR RPT along with any required documentation that was not submitted with the PAF
  • HR RPT enters employee's information into the system
  • HR RPT confirms employment status with Department and PI

Run this query in myINFO to review the status of an appointment: SFUDA_RA_ADMINISTER_EES.