Employing Grant-Funded Research Assistants

A significant part of SFU’s efforts to recognize our research personnel as valued contributors to our research community involves the transition of Research Assistants (RAs) to employment status.

The Research Personnel Initiative has been transitioning those grant-funded RAs who are eligible for employment status due to the nature of the work they do to employees of the university since summer 2020. 

This transition results in a change in the employment relationship – from being an employee of the principal investigator (Supervisor), to being an employee of SFU – which will require some formalized documentation, similar to other SFU employee groups: 

  • an employment contract that outlines the expected duties, work requirements and terms and conditions of employment,
  • record keeping, and
  • termination notice upon appointment ending.

This site offers a guide to the appointment of research assistants to SFU employees.

The RPI team provides support to PIs and department administration staff throughout the transition – assistance with form completion, providing tools and calculators, advice for unusual situations, and guidance on compliance requirements.

Please direct all questions and requests to: rp_info@sfu.ca.

Please also share ideas for other resources and improvement on this site!


Acronyms, terms and definitions used within these pages

  • RA = Research Assistant, individals receiving funds from grants (as opposed to Graduate Research Assistants who receive scholarship income)
  • RPI = Research Personnel Initiative
  • PAF = Payroll Appointment Form
  • ESA = BC’s Employment Standards Act
  • CPP = Canada Pension Plan
  • EI = Employment Insurance
  • WCB = Workers Compensation Board premium
  • EHT = Employers Health Tax (replaced MSP in 2019)
  • Supervisor = Principal Investigator or the individual responsible for hiring and directing the work of the RA
  • USRA = Undergraduate Student Research Awards 
  • Scholarship income = paid to graduate student research assistants, where the graduate student is working as a research assistant on work that is very closely related to his/her thesis research and is required for completion of the Master's or Doctoral degree for which he/she is enrolled. No payroll source deductions will be taken, WorkSafeBC coverage is not provided and the income will be recorded as scholarship income on a T4A slip. If the research being performed is unrelated to person’s graduate program and the primary beneficiary of the work is the University, the work is considered to be employment income and should be coded as Research Assistant /employment income (source: Payroll’s Guide for the Completion of Payroll Appointment Form). 


Overview of PAF Submission Process

Complete a PAF 

  • Use the Comments box for explanations of any anomalies
  • Paste or type in job duties
  • Make sure it’s signed 
  • Gather any supplemental documents

Be Clear in the Email Subject Line

Request type; RA last name, first initial; start date of request – for example:

  • Re-appointment; Smith J; Dec 15 2020
  • Correction; Doe J; Nov 30 2020
  • Early appointment end; Jones M; Dec 4 2020

Send to

  • Financial Reporting Funds (13, 21, 23, 61, 62)  >  hbray@sfu.ca
  • Research Accounting Funds (25 & 30s)  >  res-acct@sfu.ca
  • Operating Funds (11, 40)  >   rp_info@sfu.ca
  • Early appointment end > rp_info@sfu.ca

Check the Status



More detail on PAF completion and how to submit for the various types of requests can be found on the How to Complete the PAF tab.