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Welcome from the Assistant Vice-President, Human Resources (HR)

Welcome to the employee handbook for Research Assistants and Associates at Laurier! I would like to take this opportunity to welcome any new employees and to thank all existing employees for the work you do and your contributions to Laurier.

Laurier is a wonderful place to work, with collaborative people who work in a collegial and supportive manner. We are passionate about Inspiring Lives of Leadership and Purpose amongst our students, alumni, faculty and staff. Our Employee Success Factors were created by employees from across the organization and truly capture the behaviours and commitments we value at Laurier.

A successful employee...

  • Collaborates to promote team and organizational success.
  • Seeks opportunities for continuous improvement.
  • Values relationships and community.
  • Supports a culture of service.
  • Models leadership and accountability.

This handbook is meant to outline the main aspects of the employee-employer relationship in addition to the Employment Standards Act (ESA) and will hopefully answer any questions you may have. However, if you have a question or a concern not addressed in the handbook, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the HR team. Contact information can be found on the HR website at www.wlu.ca/hr.

Sincerely,

Pamela Cant
AVP, Human Resources

Introduction

This employee handbook has been prepared to assist research assistants and associates in finding the answers to general questions they may have and to familiarize them with the university’s general approach to certain HR issues. Employees should read it carefully and keep a copy for their records.

This handbook is only intended to provide a general summary of information concerning certain HR issues. Neither the information in this handbook, nor any other communication by management with respect to this handbook or its contents, forms part of an employment contract with the university. The university has the right to change any information set out in this handbook, without consulting, obtaining agreement, or providing with notice of any kind to employees.

For questions regarding an employee’s personal employment situation or Laurier employee practices that are not addressed in this handbook, contact HR at 519.884.0710 x2007.

Definitions

  • Employee Success Factors: five guiding principles that set criterion by which employees can evaluate and strive to improve themselves.
  • Principal investigator: is the holder of an independent grant administered by Office of Research Services and the lead researcher for the grant project.
  • Research assistant: a position that is funded externally through funds awarded by any government agency or third party organization where funds are directed towards research activities and administered through the Office of Research Services.
  • Research associate: one who holds an advanced degree, normally a Ph.D. or post graduate professional degree or equivalent, in the field where research is to be carried out and contribute by way of their academic expertise to the project directed by the Prinicipal Investigator.
  • University: Laurier and its designates, the Board of Governors of Laurier, or any officers authorized to act on behalf of the Board, and is hereinafter referred to as the university.

Recognition

The university recognizes the importance of supporting the growth of research and scholarly activity. Providing employment opportunities for research assistants and research associates to engage in research projects and work alongside the Principal Investigator allows them to gain valuable experience and strengthen a specific skill. This guide outlines the hiring and other employment details for research assistants and research associates employment.

This document applies to the research assistants and research associates employed by Laurier. Throughout the documents research employees will referenced which will be inclusive of research assistants and research associates.

Business Operations

The university has the right to manage its affairs subject to the limitations of this handbook.

Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the university has the exclusive right and responsibility:

  • to manage its business;
  • to maintain order, discipline, and efficiency including the right to plan, direct, and control the workforce;
  • to hire, classify, promote, transfer, demote, lay off, or recall employees, and to expand or reduce the size of the workforce;
  • to alter, combine, or cease any operation, function, or service.

The university has the right to establish and enforce reasonable rules and regulations and to discipline, suspend, or discharge employees for just cause.

The university will exercise the foregoing rights in a manner that is fair, reasonable, and consistent with the terms and provisions of this handbook. In the event that it is alleged that the university has exercised any of the foregoing rights contrary to the provisions of this handbook, the matter may be the subject of conflict resolution procedures.

Harassment/Discrimination

It is agreed that there will be no discrimination, interference, restrictions, coercion, or intimidation exercised on or practiced by the university or student employees in regard to any matter associated with the terms and conditions of employment by reason of race, creed, colour, sex, gender, marital status, ethnic origin, ancestry, place of origin, political or religious affiliation, sexual orientation, citizenship, age, record of offences, family status, disability, or language (unless an occupational requirement of a position).

Harassment is defined in Ontario’s laws as "engaging in a course of vexatious comments or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome”. Generally, these comments or conduct must be related to one of the prohibited grounds such as race, sex, colour, ancestry, place of origin, ethnic origin, marital status, same sex partner status, sexual orientation, age, disability, citizenship, family status or religion.

It is expected that all employees will act in accordance with university policy 6.1. The full policy can be found on the University Secretariat’s website.

Environmental/Occupational Health and Safety

The university is committed to the occupational health and safety of employees and in providing a safe work environment at all times. This commitment encompasses striving to identify and minimize workplace hazards and the prevention of work-related injuries and illnesses, including ergonomic related injuries. The university will operate and the employees shall work in compliance with the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), Environmental Protection Act, their regulations, and any applicable municipal, provincial and/or federal legislation. The university and the employees shall make every reasonable effort to prevent personal injury, and to maintain safe working conditions. The university will make every effort to ensure that all employees comply with the legislation and with the occupational health and safety practices, procedures and policies established by the university.

SHERM

Safety, Health, Environment and Risk Management (SHERM) is mandated to support the university's strategic goals, innovation and excellence. This is achieved by integrating health, safety and environment into the university's culture and by guiding the community in achieving due diligence. SHERM’s primary role is to develop, promote and implement best practices in loss prevention, mitigation and operational risk management; manage the university's overall health and safety program with the goal of preventing occupational injuries and illness; and develop and implement programs and procedures to meet all of the requirements, duties, and standards set by the OHSA and the Regulations for Industrial Establishments, the Environmental Protection Act and all other applicable Federal and Provincial legislation.

Please see SHERM’s webpage (wlu.ca/sherm) for more information and to view the university’s health and safety policy.

Workplace Violence

Harassment and/or violence will not be tolerated, accepted or condoned by Laurier. No person shall engage in violent conduct or make threats of violence, implied or direct, on university property or in connection with the university business or workplace. To establish this commitment, Laurier has implemented a Workplace Violence Prevention Policy (policy 7.18) and program.

Joint Health and Safety Committee

To assist in this process, the Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) will function as mandated in the OHSA. With the assistance of the SHERM director, the JHSC will help to stimulate awareness of safety issues, recognize workplace hazards, and make recommendations to deal with these hazards.

Right to Refuse Unsafe Work

In accordance with the OHSA, an employee may refuse to work or do particular work where they have reason to believe that the work is likely to endanger them. In this case, the employee shall immediately notify their manager. No employee will be disciplined for exercising their right to refuse unsafe work in accordance with OHSA.

Training

The university will provide safety training to employees and the employees will participate in such training. Training deemed necessary by the SHERM director will be made available to all employees.

Personal Protective Equipment

The university agrees to provide protective equipment and clothing when required by the OHSA and/or university policies, and to ensure that safety equipment, materials and protective devices are maintained in good condition.

Safe Operation of Equipment

Managers, in consultation with SHERM, will identify equipment that represents a level of hazard sufficient to warrant formal operating information and instructions. Any employee who is required to operate such equipment will receive information and instruction by the university to ensure the health and safety of the employee and the safe operation of the equipment.

First Aid Regulation

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 1101) requires that the workplace contain first aid stations and that the workplace have workers certified in first aid to provide treatment when needed. A list of qualified first aid personnel will be maintained at the SHERM website.

Accident/Incident Reporting

A workplace accident is a disablement that arises out of and in the course of employment. To reduce the overall negative impact of an accident, circumstances must be carefully investigated to gain information that will enable the prevention of other undesirable events. Therefore all accidents involving Laurier staff, faculty, students, visitors and contractors must be reported to SHERM by completing an Accident/Incident Report. Employee accidents resulting in a visit to a health care professional must be received by SHERM within 24 hours of the accident.

Fire Alarm Procedures and Fire Safety Plans

Employees must follow the approved fire alarm procedures in the event of a fire or fire alarm. Fire alarm procedures are posted at all emergency pull stations and in every class room on Campus. In addition, it is the responsibility of every employee to be familiar with the fire safety plan and designated safe area for the building’s they work in. In the event that you are unable to follow the approved fire alarm procedures due to a disability, please contact the AODA officer (accessibility@wlu.ca) to have an individualized evacuation plan created.

Employment Accommodation Policy

It is expected that all employees will act in accordance with university policy 8.7.

The following is a summary of the policy. The full policy and procedures, approved by the Board of Governors, can be found on the HR's website.

“Laurier is committed to providing equal treatment with respect to employment without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, record of offence(s), marital status, family status, disability, colour or ethnic origin as described by the Ontario Human Rights Code. 

The university has both a legal and moral obligation to accommodate the needs of its employees so that barriers to equal participation are eliminated wherever possible.”

Recruitment and Selection

In the recruitment and selection of all employees, the university is committed to hiring the best qualified person for all positions. The university recognizes the worth and dignity of all candidates by providing equal opportunity for employment, encourages fair and open competition while ensuring all contractual and legislative requirements are met.

Hiring Process

The principal investigator is responsible for the recruitment and selection of research employees. At the discretion of the Principal Investigator, positions may be posted to identify potential applicants. Given the specific skill and nature of research positions, Principal Investigator’s may hire without a formal search if they are aware of qualified candidates who are interested and available.

Vacancies may be posted through Human Resources website to generate a strong candidate pool. Principal Investigator’s must adhere to the university’s practices on nepotism and conflict of interest to ensure that employees are not directly supervised by a relative.

Application Process

If a position is posted, applicants should submit an updated resume with their application letter as per the instructions on the posting notice by the closing date of the competition.

Selection Process

Only those candidates meeting the required qualifications will be considered for an interview. The hiring committee will decide whether any applicant should be interviewed.

The university will make its selection decision based on the applicant deemed to be most qualified with regard to the required skills, ability, relevant past performance, and qualifications, as outlined in the job posting.

Probationary Period

From the most recent date of employment, newly hired research assistants, or research associates moving into a new position, will be on probation for a period of three months. 

The principal investigator should meet early in the employee’s employment to establish mutually agreeable probationary goals. Regular meetings should be held throughout the probationary period to review the employee’s performance against those goals.

If the employee’s progress and performance is deemed to have been unsatisfactory or an additional assessment period is required, the principal investigator may extend the probationary period or discontinue employment. 

Issue Resolution

Laurier is committed to the maintenance of a civil workplace. Promoting civility and respect and early intervention will reduce the risk of incivility, including workplace harassment and violence. Whenever conflicts arise, employees of Laurier are encouraged to deal directly with the other person(s) who are involved to respectfully engage in dialogue to achieve resolution.

Laurier has established resources and a process to facilitate achieving a respectful workplace to foster clear communication and candor, facilitate respectful interactions and yield solutions of mutual agreement.

A Guide for the Employee Issue Resolution Process (EIRP) can be found on the HR website. This includes a form as an Appendix that will assist in documenting concerns that you would like to present for assistance in finding a resolution. Documentation related to any concerns regarding disrespect and incivility will be kept confidentially within HR.

Hours of Work

By the nature of the work performed by Research Assistants and Associates, it is possible that there will not be a strictly defined work schedule that will apply at all times. For jobs with special requirements where scheduling flexibility is a fundamental aspect of the work, it is essential that the Research employees and the principal investigator meet at the outset of the appointment to discuss and agree on issues and expectations around the scheduling of work, including the number of hours that will typically be required per week.

Principal investigator have the right to direct days and hours of work for research assistants and associates as employees; however, conditions as outlined in the Employment Standards Act 2000 (“ESA”) must be adhered to.

Rest Periods

Employees must not work more than five hours in a row without getting a minimum 30-minute eating period free from work as per Employment Standards Act (ESA). Meal breaks for employees are unpaid.

Work performed during rest periods will not be considered as work in excess of an employee's normally scheduled work hours and therefore will not be eligible for overtime compensation. These rest periods cannot be accumulated or banked and taken as paid time off except as provided for elsewhere in this Handbook.

Overtime

If an employee works in excess of 44 hours in a work week, they are paid at one and a half (1 ½) times their regular hourly wage rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 44 hours as per ESA.

Vacation Pay

For Research Assistants and Associates hired on or after Nov. 1, 2016, working a contract of 12 months or greater at least 910 hours per year, will be provided with a vacation entitlement of two weeks per year. Those with contracts of less than 12 months will receive 4% in lieu of vacation.

Vacation must be taken during the year in which it is earned and will not accumulate from year to year.

For research assistants and associates hired prior to Nov. 1, 2016 that meet the eligibility requirements above will be provided vacation entitlement of two weeks per year. All assignment terms and conditions outlined in the employment contract continue to apply.

Public Holiday Pay

All Research Assistants and Associates are entitled to public holiday pay for the following days unless they fail to work all of their last regularly scheduled day of work before the public holiday or all of their first regularly scheduled day of work after the public holiday without reasonable cause (such as illness, urgent personal matter).

  • New Year's Day
  • Family Day
  • Good Friday
  • Victoria Day
  • Canada Day
  • Labour Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day

The amount of public holiday pay to which an employee is entitled is all of the regular wages earned by the employee in the four work weeks before the work week with the public holiday divided by 20.

Any approved hours worked on the designated public holiday will be paid at time and one-half.

Leaves

Leaves such as sick leave, pregnancy and parental leave, jury duty, compassionate leave, etc., are governed by the Ontario Employment Standards Act 2000 (“ESA”).

All employees are encouraged to review the information provided on the ESA website.

Rates of Pay

The university has established recommended wage rates for research roles based on level of education obtained. There is a wage range for each category which provides additional flexibility based on skill and responsibilities. Please refer to the Office of Research Services website for the pay rate recommendations.

Benefits

Research assistants and associates hired on or after Nov. 1, 2016 that have contracts greater than one year who work at least 910 hours per year will be provided with 4% of their gross pay in lieu of benefits. This 4% amount is in addition to their regular wages and is paid to employees on each pay deposit. Research assistants and associates may elect to participate in the university benefit program that has been set up for Postdoctoral Fellows at their own expense. Detailed information regarding available benefits can be found on the HR Benefit page.

Research Assistants and Associates are not eligible to participate in the university Pension Plan.

For Research Assistants and Associates hired prior to Nov. 1, 2016 that meet the eligibility requirements above will receive 4% of their gross pay in lieu of benefits. All assignment terms and conditions outlined in the employment contract continue to apply.

Termination

Resignation

Should the employee decide to terminate his/her employment at the university, a letter of resignation must be submitted to the employee’s immediate manager. The letter of resignation should specify the effective date of resignation and offer an appropriate notice period. It is recommended that a minimum of two weeks is generally appropriate.

Dismissal

The university has the right to terminate employment in accordance with university policies and relevant employment standards and human rights legislation.

Both the employee and the university have the right to terminate the employment relationship. This can include resignation, termination initiated by the university for cause, redundancy, or layoff.

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