Hiring Students

Student and Research Assistant Hiring Information

In budgeting for student and/or research assistant costs, researchers need to include mandatory employer costs (Employment Insurance (EI), Canada Pension Plan (CPP)), Workers’ Compensation (WC) in their calculations. All employees are entitled to Vacation Pay (VP), which is also paid by the researcher. It’s important to note that some of these rates change often, and at various times over the year, making it challenging to be completely accurate when you predict your payroll costs. Therefore, check your accounts regularly to ensure that your predicted costs are in line with actual costs. Student employees are paid on a bi-weekly basis. The Authorization to Pay Research Assistants form must be completed, with two signed copies provided to the Manager of Fund Accounting, the Business Office.

Suggested Pay Rates

The current suggested pay rate for undergraduate students is $12.55/hour and $15/hour for graduate students (these rates do not include 4% vacation pay). The research grant holder is required to cover the following additional costs: 4% vacation pay and 8.5% for mandatory employer costs for EI, CPP, and WC (workers compensation). The amounts for CPP, EI and WCB are over and above the employee’s pay. These employer costs show up as deductions in the researcher’s general ledger (GL) account.

Please note that all pay rates are subject to change.

Employee Base Rate With Vacation Pay (Gross pay rate employee receives) With Employer Contribution to CPP, EI, WCB (rate to be charged to research account)
Minimum Wage Employee $12.55/hr $13.05/hr $14.16/hr
Suggested Undergraduate $12.55/hr $13.05/hr $14.16/hr
Suggested Graduate $15.00/hr $15.60/hr $16.93/hr
Other $19.23/hr $20.00/hr $22.40/hr
Other $24.04/hr $25.00/hr $28.00/hr


If You Are Paying Minimum Wage

The current Minimum wage in Nova Scotia is $12.55 (as of 1 April 2020). Note that when the province quotes this rate, it does not include vacation pay, so 4% vacation pay must be added to the minimum wage rate as part of your calculation of payroll costs ($12.55/hr+ 4% = $13.05/hr). On top of this, the research grant holder is required to pay 8.5% for mandatory employer costs to cover EI, CPP, and WC (workers compensation). Total cost to the grant holder is thus $14.16/hr.  The 8.5% additional cost is not included as part of an employee’s pay, but shows up as deductions in the researcher’s general ledger (GL) account.

The university’s recommended graduate student wage is $15.00/hr plus 4% vacation pay. Mandatory employer contributions (8.5% for EI, CPP, and WC coverage) bring the total cost to $16.93/hr.

Note: If you are paying minimum wage, please indicate to your employee that they will be paid $12.55/hr plus an additional 4% for vacation pay in lieu of vacation time.  You should remind them that their take-home pay will reflect mandatory employee cost deductions (EI & CPP) as well as any income tax deductions they have indicated, as calculated from their tax forms.

Filling out the Authorization to Pay Research Assistant Form

You can choose to pay your Research Assistant (RA) on either the hourly or salary payroll.  The majority of RA’s are paid on the salary payroll.

Employees on the salary payroll will be paid a daily rate for each day of the contract term (including holidays).  On the hourly payroll, the RA and/or the supervisor will be responsible for entering the hours worked using the TSOnline portal in Webadvisor. 

If an employees’ hours will be standard over the work term (not necessarily the same every day, but the same over a two-week period), it is best to place them on the salary payroll.  If an employee’s hours will be inconsistent, they should be placed on the hourly payroll.

Regardless of the method used to pay the RA, the hourly rate needs to meet minimum wage + 4% vacation pay.  As of April 1, 2020, that is $12.55/hr.

Salary Paid

You do not need to place an amount in the Rate per Hour field if you are placing the employee on the salary payroll.

To process the Pay Authorization, Payroll must confirm the hourly rate meets minimum wage + 4%.  We use the formulas below to arrive at the hourly rate.

Daily Rate = total amount to be paid to RA / # of work days in term

# of hours per day = average hours per week / 5 days

Hourly Rate = daily rate / # hours per day

The RA will be paid the same amount each day of the term – regardless of whether they worked that day or not.  We cannot pause an employee’s pay during any of the breaks in the class schedule (e.g. reading week, holidays.)  It is important to take those weeks into consideration when determining the average # of hours per week.

Hourly Paid

You do not need to enter an amount in the average number of hours per week field if you are placing the employee on the hourly payroll. 

Please make sure the Rate Per Hour field is filled – it must meet minimum wage + 4% vacation pay.

TSOnline is quite easy to use once you get accustomed and improves efficiency/accuracy for both supervisors and payroll.  We will only accept manual timesheets in special circumstances. 

The supervisor(s) can be solely responsible for entering hours in TSOnline or, if you wish, access can also be given to the RA to enter their own hours.  If you wish to have the RA enter their own hours, they will need a staff network account, which you can easily request through the Acadia HUB once the pay authorization has been submitted. This is convenient if the supervisor will be away from office at times and not able to enter the hours into TSOnline every two weeks.  Supervisors will receive an email notifying that the RA has entered hours – the supervisor can then go in to TSOnline to view, approve, modify or reject the hours as necessary.  If the employee enters hours in TSOnline and the supervisor does not approve them, the hours will still be paid out.  We strongly recommend having an alternate person authorized to enter hours on behalf of the employee, in case of absence.

The submission deadlines for documents and TSOnline entries are on the payroll schedules, found on the Acadia HR webpage.  Please observe these deadlines closely to avoid delay in issuing a payment to an RA.

Other tips

  • Please double check the GL account number(s), and ensure the entire number is provided (including object codes)
  • Students who are already on the payroll with the University (have other positions including, but not limited to; lifeguards, library employees, security staff, teaching assistants, Residence Assistants, etc) do not need to submit new payroll information unless they want to change something in their profile – direct deposit info, tax credit forms, address, etc.
  • Pay authorizations submitted late (after the start date) may experience delayed processing due to the extra calculations required.
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Division of Research & Graduate Studies
214 Horton Hall
18 University Avenue
Wolfville, Nova Scotia, B4P 2R6