McGill’s protocols for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic are constantly assessed and all workers should check this website for the latest information.
If you have COVID-19 symptoms, stay at home and isolate yourself from others, if possible.
Every day before coming to campus, all students and employees must answer three questions about symptoms through the appropriate Minerva form.
Prior to coming to campus each day, all students and employees must fill out the Self-Evaluation webform on the Coronavirus site, which will assess whether individuals should be coming to campus or not. This form does not collect data but directs anyone experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms to the necessary follow-up steps.
Call Montreal’s coronavirus hotline at 514-644-4545, or 1-877-644-4545 if you are elsewhere in Quebec.
Call Santé Québec at 514-644-4545 for information on next steps.
We invite you to consult us directly if you have any additional questions.
This page was last updated on December 6, 2021
International Student Employee FAQ
You must have an active Study Permit and Canadian Social Insurance Number to be an employee at McGill, even if working from outside of Canada
If you cannot get your immigration documents to be able to legally work, but a TA position is part of your funding package, McGill Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GPS) has committed to making up the difference with funding.
Can International Students Work Remotely?
Yes. Provided you have an active Study Permit and Canadian Social Insurance Number (SIN). You need a SIN to be able to work, whether in-person or remotely, and you get it after you enter Canada.
If you are an incoming international student, this means that you will have to cross a Canadian port of entry. If you intend to travel to Canada, make sure to check any travel restrictions and understand that there is a risk you may not be able to cross the border.
Can I Work With an Expired Visa?
No. You must start the renewal process for your Study Permit as soon as possible.
If you are currently in Canada: You will have “implied status” while you are in the process of renewal. This means you are permitted to work.
If you are outside of Canada: you must complete this process at a port of entry before your Study Permit will be renewed. You will not have “implied status” during the renewal process and you are not permitted to work.
What if my TA offer was withdrawn by my department?
If you were offered a TA position and signed the contract and intended on coming to Canada, and the department should not withdraw your offer based on your presumed immigration status.
The department cannot preemptively withdraw this employment offer because it is unclear whether or not you will have your documents. McGill’s office of Labour Relations has confirmed that it is too early for duly signed TA offers to be withdrawn.
With around 40% of the graduate student body being international students, McGill extends offers of employment to people whose immigration status is not yet certain all the time. Additionally, the TA collective agreement contains mechanisms for filling vacant positions quickly. These mechanisms are used often—when a graduate student’s schedule changes, when they get sick, when they decide to do fieldwork instead. It may be inconvenient to fill a vacant TA position, but it should not be disruptive to the course to do so.
What if my TA Offer was withdrawn unfairly?
You have rights under the TA collective agreement. Normally, when an offer of employment is withdrawn, you are entitled to an indemnity equal to 2/5 of the total TA compensation you were originally offered. Contact the union: email@example.com
What if I cannot work as a TA, but a TA position was part of my funding package?
If your offer of admission included TA wages in your funding package in any way, the department should offer you a stipend equivalent to the TA wages you would have earned. McGill Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GPS) has committed to making up the difference with funding. If you have not received this additional funding, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I defer a TA position?
No. A TA position is a short-term employment contract. Hiring is done according to the schedule in the collective agreement. Your department might tell you that they will be able to offer you a position in the Winter, but you will still have to apply. Review the deadlines on the AGSEM website or email your department midway through the semester to make sure you don’t miss this opportunity.
Can I work and defer payment?
No. Without a SIN, you will not be legally able to work, so if you are asked to do this, both you and the department would be breaking the law. As an employer, McGill must pay taxes on your payroll and make sure that you are also taxed. McGill cannot falsify the dates of your employment on payroll, nor can they pay you under the table.
Can I just be a Grader or Course Assistant Instead?
No. It is not a union rule that you cannot work as a TA this semester. It is the law. This means you cannot legally hold any type of employment in Canada. AGSEM has stepped up to fill a gap in communication from the university, but this is really a matter of McGill’s legal obligations to immigration and revenue authorities. The union simply considers it our duty to make sure that grad students are aware that any under the table arrangement is not a reliable offer.
Can I be classified as an Independent Contractor?
No. The province makes it clear that when there is an employment relationship when you are subordinate and when your tasks, methods, and schedule are controlled by McGill. Since independent contractors are taxed differently, it could pose a liability for both you and McGill if you are misclassified as an independent contractor. (Source: Revenue Quebec)
Teaching Assistants: General FAQ
You have the right to be paid for all course-specific training. (11.02.02 of the TA Collective Agreement)
You have the right to refuse work that goes above the hours in your contract. We recommend that you keep close track of your hours and notify your supervisor if you are at risk of exceeding your contract.
You have the right to accept any additional paid hours of work before they are offered to someone else (i.e. the right of first refusal).
You have the right to be paid for all hours worked. If your professor asks you to work extra hours, make sure that they have the department’s approval. (11.04 of the TA Collective Agreement)
How can I make sure my workload is fair?
Fill out your workload form and track your hours as you work! Overwork is the most common problem that TAs encounter and this problem became worse for many TAs during the shutdown of campus last Spring. Pull up that workload form that you signed at the beginning of the semester and assess the hours that you have left and what has changed. Keep track of any additional tasks that you are assigned and how long it takes you to complete. Are you recording lectures? Creating new assignments to be completed online? Learning a new platform, or figuring out new software? Is grading on a different platform taking longer than it would have otherwise? According to 11.03, you should be paid for all hours in your TA contract, even if the nature of the work has changed. We have prepared a resource guide of your rights and other tools to help you keep track of your hours.
My professor is not respecting my rights but I am nervous to confront them about it. Is there anything I can do?
Yes! You can always bring a union representative to a meeting with your professor or with your department—including, in times like these, online or over the phone. Your union can provide support and advice, help mediate a disagreement, or be firm and assert your rights. Contacting us for information or advice does not mean we will file a grievance, and all information shared with us remains confidential. It’s your call. If you need immediate and confidential advice, email email@example.com.
Am I entitled to any sick leave under the TA collective agreement?
Yes. Under the TA Collective Agreement, you have the right to take the following medical leaves:
up to 10 days for healthcare obligations for your child (16.06);
up to 16 weeks over a period of 12 months to care for your child, spouse, or family member dealing with an illness (16.03.03); and,
medical leave for yourself with no specified duration (16.06).
According to 16.06, if you are ill you should inform your course supervisor as soon as possible and provide them with a proposal for rescheduling the work. If the work cannot be completed as scheduled, the professor must arrange for a substitute, and you will not see a reduction in pay. However, your first priority should be your health and the health of those around you, and you should not wait for alternative arrangements to be made before taking a medical leave.
During times like these, the responsibility for making alternative arrangements for all classes must rest with McGill, not with individual TAs. McGill has a duty to their grad students not to punitively interrupt or terminate pay because a TA takes medical leave.
My professor or department is hiring additional teaching support to help with the increase in workload. Is this allowed?
Yes, but your rights must be respected. It is possible that a professor will decide that they need additional Teaching Assistants, graders, or other academic support. This is permissible under certain circumstances, but you have rights. If a course already has TAs, additional work must be first offered to these employees before hiring someone else. This work must be compensated at the TA rate; your professor cannot ask you to work for free.
If you and any other TAs for your course turn down this additional work, the department is at liberty to hire additional teaching support. Any type of teaching support may be hired for courses that do not have TAs already this semester.
We encourage all teaching support workers that are not currently unionized to join our unionization drive to represent all academic casual workers on campus. Your labour rights have never been more important and collectively we can improve the labour rights of casual academic workers at McGill. Join online here.
Teaching Assistants: Remote Delivery FAQ
If you work remotely as a Teaching Assistant, it is your right to have access to the resources to do your job, including a Zoom Pro license, MyCourses Essentials, other software and hardware, and a “desk copy” of course materials.
I had to take additional training to learn new software now that all course content, delivery, and assessment is online. Will I receive compensation?
All required training should be included on your Workload form, according to the TA Collective Agreement, and the Provincial Act Respecting Labour Standards. All mandatory training hours are considered working hours, and TAs are paid by the hour.
In our current Collective Agreement AGSEM has negotiated for two types of training: (1) mandatory paid training at the departmental level for first-time Teaching Assistants that should be indicated on the Workload Form (13.06.01); and (2) the voluntary SKILLSETS TA workshops held in the Fall and Winter semesters, for which first-time TAs may be paid for up to 3 hours in addition to their current TA contract (13.06.02). Other training required by the department is not defined within the agreement between McGill and AGSEM, but may be required by the department, course supervisor, or university policy and must be calculated within the total hours of a TA's contract (eg. “It Takes All of Us” employee training for the Policy against Sexual Violence should also appear on Workload Forms).
Make sure your hiring unit has approved this before agreeing to work additional hours. In the case of an increased workload TAs also have rights in the Collective Agreement. If you are experiencing an increase in work due to their course being moved online, you can revise your workload form with their supervisor to request additional hours (article 11.04). If a request is not fulfilled by the department, this issue can be brought to the union and we will advocate for you.
I do not have access to the software or resources to do my TA work from a distance. What should I do?
Talk to your course instructor, or tell us! It is the department and the course instructor’s responsibility to provide their TAs with the resources they need to complete their work. This includes access to Zoom Pro and MyCourses Essentials. Ensure that all expenses are approved before you purchase anything for your job so you can get reimbursed. We are aware that some managers may be unwilling or unable to provide their TAs with access to the resources they need. If you are experiencing issues with this, we recommend that you reach out to us as soon as possible so we can continue to bring these issues to the appropriate decision-makers in the McGill administrative structure.
What are McGill’s policies for video conferencing software?
Students must consent to being recorded if they are attending a lecture or participating in a component of a course that is being recorded. Students will be notified by Zoom if they are being recorded, and can opt out at any time by leaving the session. Recordings will be kept in myCourses for one year, after which they will be deleted. Recordings will not be used to assess an instructor’s performance for the purposes of reappointment, tenure, performance, or merit. Instructors can indicate that they prefer to have cameras on, but you cannot ask that students turn on cameras for privacy reasons. Read the full policy.
Teaching Assistants: In-Person Delivery FAQ
McGill has a legal obligation to provide its employees with safe working conditions.
Always check McGill’s latest COVID-19 announcements.
You are required to consult the mandatory directives & watch training videos for preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Prior to entering any McGill building, employees (including student employees) must complete a daily self-evaluation form.
If indicated, follow the appropriate steps after you complete the form.
AGSEM continues to advocate for a safe working environment on campus. See our open letter to McGill Administration from October 2021.
What if someone in my classroom someone is not observing social distancing or following McGill’s other COVID-19 protocols?
If a student does not follow COVID-19 protocols, the instructor or TA can ask them to leave campus. McGill also asks instructors and TAs to police students by reporting them to a disciplinary officer, the Dean of Students, as well as McGill Security.
What is McGill doing to reduce the propagation of the virus?
McGill’s main tools for preventing the spread of COVID-19 are daily self-evaluation form, social distancing, and providing procedural masks to all students, faculty and staff.
For current rules regarding masks and social distancing on campus, visit: https://www.mcgill.ca/coronavirus/health-guidelines#masks
Since November, McGill offers voluntary COVID-19 rapid testing for asymptomatic people. For hours and location, please visit https://www.mcgill.ca/coronavirus/article/sante-et-securite/voluntary-covid-19-rapid-testing-asymptomatic-individuals-pilot-project
There is no law or rule that requires that the University be notified by the province if a student has tested positive. Students are not compelled to report to the University if they have tested positive, but may choose to submit a form via Minerva to receive "academic considerations" from the professor. Students have no obligation to inform the instructor that they have tested positive. After much criticism, McGill is now publicly reporting the number of reported COVID-19 cases on campus.
Do I have the right to refuse a task if I am concerned about COVID-19 exposure?
Yes. In accordance with the Act Respecting Occupational Health and Safety (more here) and the TA Collective agreement (15.02.05), you have the right to refuse work that would expose yourself or others to danger to health, safety, or physical well-being. We have prepared a detailed explainer for how you can refuse work here.
Do I have to return to in-person work if I am immunocompromised?
No. If you are being asked to return to in-person work and you are immunocompromised (see McGill’s definition of “high risk”) contact HR Benefits firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP to document your need for accommodations. You will have to provide HR with medical documentation to justify to the University that it is unsafe for you to return to in-person work. You may have to discuss with your Course Supervisor how to reallocate the hours in your contract to other work.
Do I have to return to in-person work if someone I live with is immunocompromised?
Yes. If you are being asked to return to in-person work and you are living with someone who is immunocompromised McGill does not consider this sufficient enough to warrant accommodations. Still, you may be able to come to a different arrangement with your Course Supervisor.
If the semester moves online again and I have less work than anticipated in my contract, will I see a reduction in my TA pay?
No. Due to the provisions in our TA Collective Agreement (article 11.03), TAs who have less work under the present circumstances will not see a reduction in their compensation, even if they have a reduction in the number of hours worked. This means that if your labs or tutorial sections are cancelled and your professor does not have additional work to give you to make up for this time, nothing should change in your pay schedule because the department has to respect the contract that you originally signed.
HR has sent out directives to departments to this effect and assured the union that everyone's contract and labour rights will be respected. If you hear anything from your professor or your department about cutting your pay, or notice a decrease in your paystubs on Minerva, do let us know as soon as possible and we will work to fix the situation.
McGill is back to in-person exams in the Fall 2021 semester. Some exams will still take place remotely.
There is no binding agreement for a minimum shift or hour allocation in the Invigilator Collective Agreement. In practice, you can be hired in a semester without being scheduled to work a shift.
If you have questions or concerns with regard to the health and safety standards during the Fall 2021 final exam, please read our Fall 2021 Invigilation FAQ
For updates on Invigilator Bargaining, visit: https://www.agsem.ca/bargaining
Unit 3: Academic Casuals & Academic Support
We are aware of the challenges facing academic support workers on campus. We are also aware of the increasing quantity of short-term academic support jobs being introduced right now to supplement the work demanded by the online format of classes.
We remain deeply invested in improving the protections available for academic support, and are here for you, regardless of department, faculty, or job title.
We encourage any and all graders, tutors, course assistants, student assistants, note-takers, and related support workers to contact us directly in cases of overwork and underpay, as well as absences of labour rights, general information, and safety. This can be done by email: email@example.com.
For more information about our capacity to help you, and our continuing efforts to represent academic support, check out www.agsem.ca/join.
We realize that this is a stressful time as we deal with many uncertainties, but there are resources available to you and many people who want to help.
General Workers’ Rights Info:
Montreal COVID-19 Resource Guide (also includes info on support funds, employment insurance, and access to legal support)
Benefit Information in Canada:
Teaching for Accessibility: