Research Assistants

Transitioning Research Assistants to SFU Employees

The university has undertaken to transition Research Assistants to employees to recognize the valuable contributions our research personnel make and deepen our ability to be innovative and competitive.

Once transitioned, this group will be supported by the rights and benefits associated with employee status, and will experience greater equity, diversity and inclusion in research opportunities.

This initiative requires the revision of some HR policies and the development of some processes to support RA employment practices. Having these in place will create consistency and provide the support and expertise necessary to manage complex employment relationships and comply with BC and Federal laws.

Project Activity

Step 1: Categorizing Research Assistant Roles

The first step is to gain an understanding of the work done by the multitude of individuals labelled “research assistant”. Project team members will work with relevant Faculties to gather this information.

Step 2: Defining the transition process

Those categorized as eligible to be employees will need to be transitioned to employee status, which requires the development of an interim intake process and the signing of employment contracts.

Step 3: Recognizing employees’ right to unionize

The project team will work to identify those RAs who may be eligible for union membership by May 1, 2020, when the collective bargaining process begins (per the November 2019 announcement).

NOTE: Only SFU employees are eligible for union membership. Once research personnel have signed an employment contract with SFU, they will have the opportunity to become members of a union. Also, 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 union membership.

Step 4: Defining HR policies and practices

The project team will define and implement the policies and processes that support this new employee group, while facilitating the ability to conduct research.

More Information

Questions or concerns? Email the project team at:

Facts and Q&As are posted on the Facts and Updates page, along with the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback.