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 $14.50/hour and $16.35/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 $14.50/hr $15.08/hr $16.36/hr
Suggested Undergraduate $14.50/hr $15.08/hr $16.36/hr
Suggested Graduate $16.35/hr $17.00/hr $18.45/hr


If You Are Paying Minimum Wage

The current Minimum wage in Nova Scotia is $14.50 (as of 1 April 2023). 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 ($14.50/hr+ 4% = $15.08/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 $16.36/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 $16.35/hr plus 4% vacation pay. Mandatory employer contributions (8.5% for EI, CPP, and WC coverage) bring the total cost to $18.45/hr.

Note: If you are paying minimum wage, please indicate to your employee that they will be paid $14.50/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

New Hire Information

If the Research Assistant (RA) has not worked for the University before, they will need to submit their payroll information to Human Resources in order to be placed on the payroll.  Please have the employee complete the following documents and submit them to you or directly to Human Resources (matthew.bustin@acadiau.ca)

If the RA has worked for the University within the past year in other roles, they may already have their information on file.

Salary vs Hourly

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.

Salary Payroll

  • Employees on the salary payroll will be paid a daily rate for each day of the contract term (including statutory and university holidays).
  • The RA will be paid as if they work a ‘normal’ 5 day/week schedule. The actual work schedule can vary depending on operational requirements, field work, etc.

Hourly Payroll

  • On the hourly payroll, the RA is only paid for those hours reported as worked.
  • The RA and/or the supervisor will be responsible for entering the hours worked using the TSOnline portal in Webadvisor.
  • You can designate two people to enter/approve hours on the employee’s behalf.
  • Please access this Hub article for instructions on how to use TSOnline.

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.

Research Grant Details

Whether you are placing the employee on the salary or hourly payroll, you need to complete this section.  Payroll needs to know the start/end date of the term.  It is important these dates are accurate – the employee will only be covered by WCB during these dates.  The form will automatically count all work days (M-F) between the two dates.

You also need to enter the GL or GL’s to which the contract funding will be expensed.  If you are unsure of the GL, please contact Financial Services.  Incomplete or incorrect information will cause delay in processing and payment.

Please make sure the funding percentages add up to 100%.

You will need to complete ONLY ONE of the following sections – do not complete both.

Salary Payroll

Please enter the average # of hours per week the RA will be working.  Once again, the actual schedule can vary, but we need an average of the hours they will work per week over the duration of the term.  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 periods into consideration when determining the average # of hours per week.

Enter the Total Amount to be Paid to the RA (A).  When you enter this value, the hourly rate will automatically be calculated.  The minimum wage for Research Assistants is $14.14/hour.

When you enter an amount in A, the Total Amount Charged to GL (B) will also be automatically calculated.

If you need to work this backwards, just divide (B) by 1.085.

For example: you are given a $5000 grant, but the employer-related costs must be paid out of that amount as well.  The Total Amount Charged to GL (B) would be $5000, and the Total Amount Paid to RA would be $4,608.29.

($5000 / 1.085 = $4608.29)

Hourly Payroll

Please enter the hourly rate you wish to pay your Research Assistant.  It must be a minimum of $15.08/hour.  This includes 4% vacation pay.

Please include an estimate of how much you intend to pay the hourly employee over the term of the contract.  Financial Services will need this estimate in order to approve the funding.  The Estimated Total Charged to GL (D) will be automatically calculated.

The supervisor(s) can be solely responsible for entering hours in TSOnline or, if you wish, access can also be given to the Research Assistant 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.  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.

Once an employee enters their hours, the supervisors will receive an email notifying that the RA has entered hours, which can then be approved, modified or rejected.  If the employee enters hours in TSOnline and the supervisor does not approve them, the hours will still be paid out – however, HR will attempt to contact the supervisor to confirm the hours.

The hours must be entered every two weeks by the deadline for that pay period.  Please reference our Hourly Pay Schedule for these important deadlines.

Please note that HR will only accept manual timesheets in special circumstances.


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