Frequently Asked Questions for Sessionals
As a sessional academic staff and URFA member, you have rights and privileges granted to you as part of your collective agreement. The following are some frequently asked questions for sessional academic staff members developed by the URFA Sessional Advocacy Committee.
Do sessionals qualify for employment insurance?
Sessional academic staff members may qualify for employment insurance. Employment insurance (EI) is calculated according to yearly employment hours. Most sessionals who teach four courses over a two-semester period will be eligible to receive a weekly benefit rate through EI. Once your last contract is completed, contacted human resources to confirm that your record of employment has been submitted to EI.
For more information call 1−800−206−7218 or visit the Human Resources and Social Development Canada Website at www.hrsdc.gc.ca.
What are the formal written procedures for hiring?
All collective bargaining agreements indicate that all academic units or colleges shall have formal written procedures for making recommendations for, and appointments of, sessional academic staff members. These procedures shall at a minimum stipulate what role the unit/college assigns to experience. These procedures will be reviewed and updated every third year following consultation in committee. A copy of the procedures shall be provided to URFA and, upon request, to anyone applying for a sessional position in the academic unit/college. All advertisements for sessional appointments shall indicate that a written copy of the appointment procedures is available upon request.
If you have requested these procedures and have been denied, please contact URFA.
Will I still be paid if a course is cancelled?
If a course offered through the Centre for Continuing Education is cancelled less than 15 days prior to when it is scheduled to begin, the sessional lecturer shall be compensated one-third of the appropriate stipend.
For courses at Campion College, Luther College or the University of Regina, if cancelled less than one month prior to when they are scheduled to begin, sessional lecturers shall be compensated one-quarter of the appropriate stipends. This is indicated in the collective agreements as follows: Article 12.7 (Campion College and Luther College) and Article 12.8 (University of Regina).
Sessional academic staff members at First Nations University of Canada are compensated one-tenth of the stipend indicated in the original letter of offer if a course is cancelled following acceptance of a contract, one-quarter of the stipend if a course is cancelled within 21 days prior to commencement of the course, and three-fifths of the stipend if a course is cancelled following commencement of the semester.
If you have any questions regarding this, please contact URFA.
Am I able to be reimbursed for any course expenses?
Sessional academic staff members at Campion College are eligible for reimbursement for approved expenses related to a specific course to which they have been appointed to a maximum of $250 per course per semester (Appendix A, Item 10.1.1 in the Campion College Collective Agreement).
First Nations University of Canada Sessional Academic Staff Members receive $200 per course on their first pay cheque for expenses.
Sessional academic staff members at Luther College are eligible for reimbursement for approved expenses related to a specific course to which they have been appointed to a maximum of $200 per course per semester (Appendix A, Item 10.1.3 in the Luther College Collective Agreement).
Please submit your receipts to the dean of the appropriate college and inform URFA of any problems with reimbursement.
Sessional academic staff members at the University of Regina are reimbursed up to $250 for expenses allowable through the Canadian Revenue Agency. The amount is per course and per semester. You are urged to submit your receipts to your faculty administrator and/or dean, and inform the URFA regarding any problems with reimbursement.
As a sessional, do I have access to research and conference funds?
As a sessional academic staff member, you do not have an Academic and Professional Expense Account (APEA) to use for research or attending conferences. In addition, advertised funding competitions are, as a rule, restricted to tenured and tenure track professors and instructors.
Campion College sessional academic staff members may also apply to URFA for funds in order to support their professional development for costs associated with creative, scholarly or professional works. Campion College sessionals do not need priority status to apply to the fund — any sessional academic staff member at Campion College may apply. Applications will be submitted to the URFA office on April 1, September 1, and December 1. More information on how to apply can be found here under “Sessional Professional Development Fund Policy.”
University of Regina sessional academic staff members with priority status may apply to URFA for funds in order to support their professional development for costs associated with creative, scholarly or professional works. Acceptable expenses may include registration, travel, publication fees or discipline-specific equivalents. Applications will be submitted to URFA office on April 1, September 1, and December 1. More information on how to apply can be found here under “Sessional Professional Development Fund Policy.”
Luther College sessionals with priority status are eligible for $480 per year. This funding is handled via the Dean of Luther College’s office — please contact their office for more information.
First Nations University sessionals with pre-offer status are eligible to apply for a fund of $5000. This funding is handled via the VP Academic — please contact their office for more information.
What does it mean to have preference?
Preference recognizes experience and demonstrated success of sessional academic staff members who have taught courses previously at the Campion College, Luther College and the University of Regina. Preference is granted to those who have taught for three semesters in the preceding three years with satisfactory performance. Sessionals maintain their preferential status for a period of two years following their last appointment.
Preference between Campion College and/or Luther Colleges, and the University of Regina are separate (i.e., you would have to teach for three semesters in the preceding three years at both Campion College and/or Luther College, or the University of Regina to have preference at either of these).
There are ways of checking into course allocations should you feel your preference was not applied, or you were wrongly overlooked for a course. If this is the case, please contact URFA for assistance.
At First Nations University of Canada, sessionals are considered internal candidates if they have received a contract within a 13 month period and receive pre-posting offers for a course if they are internal candidates and have taught that course in at least five distinct semesters.
What does it mean to have priority?
At the Campion College, Luther College and the University of Regina, priority status shall be given for sessional contracts to individuals who have completed 25 or more sessional lecturer contracts (2,500 hours for ESL or La Cité) in the past five years.
Can members have preference and priority in more than one faculty or unit?
Members shall have preference and priority only in one faculty or equivalent unit at a time; and the above eligibility criteria must have been met within that unit alone. If a member is eligible for preference and priority within multiple units, the member shall choose to which unit their preference and priority shall apply.
How many courses do I have to teach before I gain access to benefits?
You are eligible for certain benefits after you have been employed at Campion College, Luther College and the University of Regina for 390 hours or more over a period of 26 consecutive weeks. (To determine hours of employment, one three-credit-hour class is deemed the equivalent of 208 hours.) To maintain eligibility, you must work at least 624 hours in a calendar year. However, you are only entitled to receive benefits if you currently have an appointment.
At First Nations University of Canada, sessionals are eligible for benefits upon receipt of their second appointment and maintain eligibility as long as they receive a contract within a 13-month period.
Do I have a health and wellness expense account?
Unfortunately, while tenured and tenure track professors have a health and wellness account in addition to their regular benefits, sessional lecturers do not.
How long are benefits maintained after I am no longer teaching any courses?
At Campion College, Luther College, and the University of Regina, benefit eligibility is maintained if you work at least 624 hours in a calendar year. However, you are only entitled to benefits if you currently have an appointment.
At First Nations University of Canada, eligibility is maintained as long as you are assigned one course within a 13-month period of your last appointment.
Am I entitled to leave?
You are entitled to sick days as a sessional academic staff member and you may apply for a personal leave of up to five business days.
At Campion College and Luther College, extended sick leave and parental leave are restricted to tenured and tenure-track academic staff members.
Like full-time academic staff, sessional members qualify for a Compassionate Care leave of up to 8 weeks related to illness, injury, or death in the family, but only the first week is paid in full.
At First Nations University of Canada, sessional academic staff members receive paid parental and sick leave.
At the University of Regina, upon approval by the dean, an academic staff member holding a sessional appointment shall be granted maternity, adoption, or parental leave as outlined by The Saskatchewan Employment Act after having been employed by the university for more than 13 consecutive weeks or having worked 1,560 hours in the
previous 52 weeks.
As these leaves and the level of payment are dependent on a number of factors and requirements, members are encouraged to discuss the leave with the Faculty Association and/or Human Resources.
As a sessional, do I have the same level of academic freedom as full time faculty?
Sessional academic staff members are not excluded from the provisions for academic freedom in their respective collective agreements.
Are there opportunities for me to transition to an instructor position?
Sessional academic staff members at Campion College and Luther College who have taught twenty-five courses or more within five consecutive years at the respective college will be placed on the short list for any advertised instructor positions.
Sessionals at the University of Regina who have taught for five consecutive years and taught twenty-five courses (2500 hrs) or more within a unit are eligible for a right of first refusal to any instructor position they are qualified for.
How can I sign up for career alerts?
Sessional academic staff members at First Nations University of Canada can sign up to receive career alerts by following these steps:
- Sign in to the career portal on the First Nations University of Canada website.
- In the top menu, you will see a tab called “Career Alerts”. Click this tab.
- Fill out the parameters of what you are seeking: options include professional areas of interest, location and keyword.
- Select the button that says “Add Career Alert”.
How does URFA communicate with members?
URFA does not use the university listservers to communicate with our members; we maintain and use our own database. It is important that we be able to communicate with you through the most efficient means possible. If you have not provided us with your personal e‑mail address please do so by contacting email@example.com. Also, if you have moved recently, or your mailing address changes, please provide us with your new mailing address.
Sessional academic staff members are invited to join the URFA sessionals Facebook group. This is a space for sessional members to discuss issues, ask questions, and learn about upcoming events and activities from the URFA Sessional Advocacy Committee. Request to join.
Am I still an URFA member if I’m not teaching a course this semester?
All sessional academic staff members are URFA members for 13 months from the first day of your last appointment, with all the same rights and privileges of that membership. However, to be eligible to vote on the ratification of a new collective agreement, a sessional member must hold an active contract at the time of that vote.
I still have questions.
You can contact the URFA office at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 306−585−4378. We would be happy to speak with you!