March 19: COVID-19 Update for Academic Support Workers

Important information for student workers about COVID-19

Following up on the email that we sent to our members on Friday evening, AGSEM is preparing a comprehensive COVID-19 labour rights FAQ for our website will keep our members updated. We will send a follow-up email when the webpage is published. In the meantime, inquiries about how McGill’s response will affect your working conditions as a Teaching Assistant, Invigilator, or Academic Support Worker can be directed to the AGSEM President, Kiersten van Vliet, at

McGill’s protocols for responding to the COVID-19 outbreak are constantly assessed and all workers should check this website for the latest information. If you are symptomatic or if you have been in contact with anyone who is symptomatic you are required to call 1-877-644-4545 and follow instructions for self-isolation at home.


If you were hired to invigilate between Friday, March 13 and Friday, March 27 (inclusive) when exams and in-person assessments were cancelled by McGill, you will be compensated for your shift(s). You are required to fill out and submit an invigilation timesheet and email it to the department that hired you—otherwise you will not be paid. If you were scheduled to work in multiple departments, you will have to submit a different sheet to each department, as you would under normal circumstances. A blank academic casual timesheet is available here. With the reduction of face-to-face contact, electronic submission and e-signatures should be acceptable, according to McGill HR. If you have any trouble with filling out and submitting your invigilator timesheets online, let us know. Please also copy in your emails with administrators, so we can keep track of information in case we have to follow up with departments.

We are still waiting for more information about shifts that fall outside the March 13-27 period, but if you were already scheduled for exams after March 27, you should also fill out timesheets for those shifts. We are still working with McGill HR on the issue of invigilators who did not receive their schedule for finals, and we will provide details as they become available. Thank you to everyone who has already reached out to the union!

Teaching Assistants

What does this mean for TAs? If you are symptomatic, have tested positive for coronavirus, have been advised to self-isolate, or if you have a reasonable concern that you may have been exposed, you should seek the advice of a healthcare professional and then STAY HOME. Notify your Course Supervisor, Manager, and/or Department Chair and don’t stop by to pick up/drop off course materials.

McGill will not guarantee paid leave for employees in isolation or caring for someone in isolation, and instead will evaluate each claim on a case-by-case basis, prioritizing a work-from-home arrangement. If TAs can make such an arrangement with their Course Supervisor, they should. If not, however, then on-campus duties must be postponed or cancelled. AGSEM advocates for all TAs to continue receiving their pay without interruption and it is important that you also notify your union if you must take leave or alter your work arrangements.

Moving course content, assessments, and delivery to alternate platforms will likely require additional training and work from TAs to learn this system. We want to make sure that TAs are compensated for all of this work, so please keep track of your hours and let your supervisor know when you are at risk of going over your contract. Your supervisor may not know that they can ask the department to compensate you for additional hours should you need them. Inform them of your rights! Make sure any additional hours are approved by your department in writing before working above your original contract. If you are asked to do work without a guarantee of compensation, let your union know so we can worry about it.

Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill

The Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill (AGSEM) was accredited in 1993 to represent Teaching Assistants at McGill, making us the oldest TA Union in the province. Invigilators joined AGSEM in 2010 and Course Lecturers in 2011. Course lecturers have since separated into the McGill Course Lecturers and Instructors Union (MCLIU).


Phone: 514-398-2582

3641 rue University, suite 207
Montréal, Québec H3A 2B3

*Please note that our office is unfortunately not wheelchair accessible, and due to the pandemic, we are not currently in-office. Send an email, and we will get back to you with an online meeting time and date!

© 2019 by The Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill.