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TA Collective Agreement 101

Note: Our TA Collective Agreement expired July 31, 2023. As we negotiate our new contract, the TA Collective Agreement stays in effect!

We have summarized the main points of our Collective Agreement below. If you ever need clarification or have an issue with your workplace rights, contact the TA grievance officer at! Consult the full version of the Collective Agreement


  1. Membership Form

  2. Applying for a job

  3. Rate of Pay

  4. Job Offers

  5. Contract Size

  6. Workload Form

  7. Requesting Additional Hours

  8. TA Training

  9. Performance Evaluations

  10. Harassment, Discrimination, and Sexual Violence

  11. Protecting your Rights: Complaints and Grievances

  12. Accommodations

  13. Health and Safety

  14. Travel and other expenses

  15. Leaves

  1. Membership Form:
    All employees must sign the union membership form (included as a web link on every TA employment contract) for full membership rights. The union membership form can be signed online.

  2. Applying for a job:

    • All McGill graduate students have the right to apply for and accept a TA position. This is in accordance with Appendix IV of our Collective Agreement. Your academic supervisor can advise you on your education and progress, such as whether taking a job is in your best interests for your workload or pedagogical training. But your supervisor cannot prevent you from applying for or taking a job or put pressure on you to forgo working as a TA because you have other sources of income or funding.

    • Keep an eye out for notifications from your department regarding TA positions for the upcoming semester. They will typically be communicated via email and must be posted publicly on the Workday platform. 

    • Important dates for your application: For Fall courses, the TA positions are posted by May 31. For winter courses, the postings are made by November 1. The application deadline will be no earlier than 35 days after the posting. You will be notified regarding your application status no later than 35 days after the application deadline. 

    • Submitting your application: To apply for a TA position, complete the application form provided by the department (Hiring Unit). Each Hiring Unit typically has only one application process per term. On the form, specify your preferred courses and qualifications. Postings will provide information about available courses, instructors, and hours offered. While some details may be tentative or marked as TBA (to be announced), most qualifications should be listed on the posting and in general.

    • Key points to remember while submitting your application: 

      • A department may not require separate applications for different courses. 

      • A department must accept your application in electronic form. If you have difficulty submitting an electronic form, let the administrators of the hiring unit know as soon as possible.

      • No TA application form may require your academic supervisor’s signature. 

      • When you apply for a TA position, your employment file is made available to the department. You can always request to view your employment file and add material.

      • TA positions are offered by academic departments, not by course instructors. Every TA must be hired fairly and compensated at the standard wage. 

      • You should not be required to produce additional qualifications or interview for a TA position.

      • You have the right to apply for and work TA positions in multiple departments. In fact, if you are qualified to work for multiple departments, this can increase your chances of getting a job.

      • If you have worked as a TA before, however, you only have priority for one position. You can work multiple positions in a department or across different departments if enough jobs are available for departments to respect the hiring priority of other applicants.

    • Hiring priority: Priority is given to applicants based on their initial enrolment in their program. Employees do not remain in the priority pool beyond two (2) years after the initial registration in a Master's Degree program or four (4) years after the initial registration in a Doctoral Degree program.

    • Applicants with Priority Pool status are given priority for a TA position, but not a specific position that they want. Some departments will still try to take your preferences into consideration. There is no priority entitlement to specific courses.

    • Exceptions to Priority Levels: Priority may still be given to more advanced students if they receive extensions for reasons like field work or maternity leave. These extensions apply to the immediate term(s) following their absence, allowing them to maintain their priority status.

    • Non-Priority Pool Positions: Departments may reserve a certain number of positions for applicants who are not in the Priority Pool. This is based on the number of TAs who left the pool in the previous year. It allows incoming graduate students to be assigned TA positions.

    • Enrollment and Priority Pool: Being enrolled in a department does not automatically grant an individual Priority Pool status. Priority Pool status is specifically determined by having previously held a teaching assistant position.

  3. Rate of Pay: 

    • The TA wage as of the first Sunday of August 2022, is $33.03 including 6% vacation pay.

    • The wage is currently frozen in place until the next Collective Agreement is signed.  Any retroactive wage increase must be part of the negotiations and will be paid as a lump sum after the new agreement is signed.

    • Some departments combine TA wages in funding packages to "claw back" internal funding. The Union and McGill have different positions on this practice: our position is that TA positions are employment and you earn a wage, not funding. Still, several departments continue to blur the line between employment and funding. While we continue to fight this battle, you have labour rights when it comes to your funding package:

      • When a TA position is included in a graduate funding package (funding offer, yearly funding letter), it shall not reduce any other monetary elements in the package. This means, in effect, you should see raises year after year and your original stipend amount will not be reduced.

      • Likewise, when a TA position is not included in a graduate funding package, it shall not reduce any other monetary elements in the package.

  4. Job Offers:

    • Accept a TA offer by returning a signed copy of the offer letter to your department within 7 days. Sign your AGSEM membership form for full union membership. Since a TA position is a short-term contract, you must fill out a union membership form each time you accept a new position.

    • You have the right to reject a job offer or resign from a position you accepted without affecting your priority status for future TA employment so long as you resign before the start of your contract.

    • If you are offered a position that is later withdrawn, you must be offered a vacant position of at least the same size. If no such position is available due to course cancellation or enrolment, you must receive 2/15 of the salary. If the position is withdrawn for any other reason and no position is available, you must receive 2/5 of the salary. In both cases, your priority pool entitlement will be extended by one academic term.

    • If you feel like a mistake was made in hiring or if anything else was amiss with the hiring process, contact so we can investigate and verify whether the department has respected your rights. All emails are treated with confidentiality.

  5. Contract Size:

    • The maximum size of a TA position is 180 hours. Any contracts below 45 hours must be justified to the union.

    • If you accept multiple positions, it is not a violation of our Collective Agreement to work more than 180 hours in a semester. However, it is your responsibility to respect any conditions on a student visa or grant, if applicable.

    • A single TA position may exceed 180 hours with a letter of agreement between you, your union, your department, and McGill HR. This can also happen if you're granted more hours after the contract begins. See “Requesting Additional Hours” below.

  6. Workload Form:

    • Overwork is one of the most frequent complaints among TAs, with over 48% of TAs working over their contracted hours. You are under no obligation to work over your hours, and you should not be pressured to do so.

    • It is important to keep track of your hours as much as possible. You can also use online tools to track time. The most popular free to use options are Toggl and Clockify. The Workload Form is a tool that provides a structured approach to formally negotiate your workload, maintain a detailed record of your hours, and request additional hours. 

    • You must fill out a Workload Form with your course supervisor within 20 days of starting work. Both you and the course supervisor must agree on the breakdown of hours.

    • Grading assignments: When you fill out your Workload Form, your instructor will specify your grading duties. This should be a specific number of assignments or a specific portion of assignments (for example only the assignments for your section or ⅓ of the assignments). Don’t feel pressured to accept an arrangement that you don’t think is fair. Keep in mind that grading requires reading, re-reading, calculation, developing a rubric or solving a problem set, and writing feedback. You may always look at Workload Forms for past courses to see what the standard practice has been.

    • All tasks must be included on the Workload Form, this includes attending class, mandatory readings, all lab or conference hours, grading, office hours, mandatory training, and meetings with your course supervisor. 

    • You have the right to consult the Workload Form for the last time the specific course was taught. 

    • As you are paid by the hour and not by the task, all hours listed on the Workload Form are an estimate. It is up to you to keep track of your hours and revise the form, as necessary.

    • Revision of the Workload Form: You must meet within two weeks of midterms to review your Workload Form with your course supervisor. This is an opportunity to adjust the distribution of hours if there have been changes in enrollment or if you require more time for specific tasks. 

    • There is only one mandatory review of your Workload Form, but you may review your Form with your course supervisor as many times as needed during the semester until it accurately reflects your workload.

    • You must inform your Course Supervisor before you work over your hours. These conversations can be difficult or sensitive. If you want support in a meeting you can request your departmental Delegate or an AGSEM Officer to attend with you, or you can copy your delegate or the TA Grievance Officer on emails to your supervisor.

    • Alternatively, if you work less hours than indicated in your contract, you don’t have to pay back the difference.

  7. Requesting Additional Hours:

    • If necessary, the instructor should request additional hours or redistribute work that cannot be completed within your contracted hours. On the Workload Form there is a space for the course supervisor to request additional hours from the department. 

    • Do not work additional hours unless you get written confirmation from the department that they are approved.

      • If additional hours are approved and you want to work them: These hours must be paid at the TA rate.

      • If there is still more work to do for the course but you do not want to work any more: you are under no obligation to work more than your original contract. The department must offer you these hours at the TA rate before they are offered to anyone else, but it’s always your right to say no. Contact immediately if your department outsources your work without your permission.

      • If additional hours are NOT approved by the department: you stop working because you will not work for free. If your department or course supervisor tries to force you to work for free, or if your TA labour is outsourced to a non-TA, this is a violation of your rights. Contact immediately.

  8. TA Training:  

    • All mandatory training for your TA position (training required by your supervisor) must be paid. This means time spent on mandatory training should be included on your Workload Form.

    • Anti-sexual violence training: All employees of McGill must complete the employee version of “It Takes All of Us” anti-sexual violence training every three years. Your time spent on this training must also be paid at the highest hourly rate of any of the positions you currently hold on campus. This means, for example, if you are both a TA and invigilator, you must be paid at the TA rate for this training. Practically, this means one hour of training for this program should be included on your Workload Form in the semester you work for the first time.

    • First-time TA Orientations: Departments provide orientation through activities like departmental meetings. The Union shall have the right to attend these meetings and ensure that all employees are well-informed and supported. Any time spent in these orientation or training meetings must be included on your Workload Form.

    • SKILLSETS TA Training: The University provides pedagogical training to TAs. A minimum of 3 hours shall be allocated for that training.  The first 3 hours of training will be paid at the regular hourly rate for first time TAs upon completion. These are normally offered as centralized SKILLSETS training sessions ( organized in September and in January. You must register ahead of time.

      • Cancellation/ No-show policies: TAs registered for training will be charged a cancellation fee if they are absent or cancel participation within forty-eight (48) hours of the scheduled training. Cancellation fees will be in accordance with McGill Teaching and Learning Services policy.

  9. Performance Evaluations:

    • The purpose of TA performance evaluations is to assess the performance of TAs, aid in skill development and maintain performance standards.

    • Performance evaluation criteria are set by the Hiring Unit before each term and shared with TAs upon signing the workload form. This includes formal written evaluations, however, informal evaluations may also take place where the course supervisor shall discuss any areas for improvement in the TA’s performance. At this time TAs will have the opportunity to ask their course supervisor questions about the performance evaluation process.

    • Overview of formal written performance evaluation: 

      • Conducted by the Course Supervisor, a formal written performance evaluation involves a meeting with the TA within 30 days following the completion of contract. 

      • TAs are provided with the opportunity to include written comments in the formal written performance evaluation.

      • TAs receive a copy of the formal written performance evaluation, signed by them and the course supervisor, and a copy is kept in the TA's employee file.

  10. Harassment, Discrimination, and Sexual Violence:

    • All Employees are covered by the University Policy on Harassment and Discrimination Prohibited by Law and the University Policy Against Sexual Violence.

    • The Collective Agreement now contains explicit protections against discrimination in the workplace, including systemic discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, race, religion, Indigenous identity, ethnicity, disability or class.

    • Timeframe for Filing: Any grievance related to harassment, discrimination, or sexual violence can be filed within 2 years from the date of the last incident.

    • Reporting Options: Employees have the right to initiate a report under University Policies and file a grievance under the TA Collective Agreement simultaneously.

    • Union support: Throughout the entire process of a grievance, disclosure, report, or complaint, employees have the right to be accompanied by their Union Delegate.

  11. Protecting your Rights: Complaints and Grievances

    • As a first step, an informal problem solving approach is encouraged. TAs can be accompanied by union representatives if desired. 

    • If the informal discussion does not resolve the problem, the employee can start the grievance process by sending an email to the TA grievance officer at A written grievance can also be filed with the Hiring Unit, with a copy sent to Human Resources – Employee relations. 

    • Timeframe: The grievance must be filed within forty (40) days of becoming aware of the issue or within six (6) months from the occurrence of the incident. Within thirty (30) days following the receipt of the grievance, the Hiring Unit Designee shall issue a response in writing to the Union.

    • If the Hiring Unit Designee fails to respond or if the response is unsatisfactory, the Union or the University can submit the case to Human Resources – Employee Relations within 21 days (previously, 15) following receipt of the written response. Human Resources – Employee Relations shall provide a written response to the Union within 15 days of the receipt of grievance.

    • Arbitration: If it is not possible to reach a settlement, the union can file for arbitration with the Ministère du travail. This must be done within 90 days of receipt of the written response.

  12. Accommodations:

    1. Employees with disabilities can request accommodations for any part of the application process or during their appointment. If an accommodation request is made before work begins or before the specified deadline for completing the Workload Form, the deadline may be extended with authorization from the Course Supervisor.

    2. Contact information: Employees may contact their Course Supervisor or the Disability Management Team in Pensions & Benefits (Human Resources) at

    3. Confidentiality: Employment files that contain information about an employee's disability and accommodations will be treated as personal and confidential information, ensuring privacy and respect for the employee's rights.

  13. Health and Safety:

    1. You have the right to refuse work that poses a risk to your health, safety, or physical well-being, as well as the health and safety of others. 

    2. Exception: You cannot refuse work if your refusal would immediately endanger the life, health, safety, or physical well-being of someone else. 

    3. Contact information: To refuse unsafe work, you must inform your supervisor or a representative of McGill about your refusal and explain the reasons behind it. It is recommended to communicate your refusal via email, copying AGSEM ( 

    4. Involvement of AGSEM and McGill: McGill will contact AGSEM, your labor union, if a resolution cannot be reached. AGSEM may request the intervention of a Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) inspector to assess the situation and determine if the refusal is justified. 

    5. Inspector's Decision: The inspector's decision is effective immediately. However, McGill, AGSEM, and you have the option to request a review of the decision by the CNESST if desired.

  14. Travel and other expenses:

    • ​Pre-authorised expenses, including kilometrage, incurred by the Employee in the performance of her duties will be reimbursed in accordance with the Travel and Other Personal Reimbursements policy of the University.

  15. Leaves:

    • Since your TA position is a short term contract, it may seem unnecessary to take unpaid leave, but there are some benefits:

      • Medical leave for yourself: 3 weeks (unpaid). 

      • Medical leave for your partner, or your child: 10 days (unpaid). 

      • Maternity: 18 weeks, no earlier than 16 weeks before delivery (unpaid). 

      • Paternity: 5 weeks, no later than 52 weeks after the birth (unpaid). 

      • Parental: 52 weeks, no later than 70 weeks after birth or adoption (unpaid)

      • Birth of a child or adoption: 5 days (of which first 2 are paid)

      • Termination of a pregnancy: Before the 20th week: 3 weeks; after the 20th week: 18 weeks (unpaid). 

      • Death of a family member: 1-3 days (paid). 

      • Academic Conference: unspecified (determine length with course supervisor) 

      • Preparation for a comp exam or thesis defense: 7 days (unpaid)

      • Fieldwork, including any training or research abroad: up to 1 year (unpaid)

Requesting Additonal Hours
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