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Queen's University

Research Assistant Income Classification

Every student's situation can be different due to many varying facts (e.g. other sources of income and expenses, other activities, changes in residence and marital status). Reclassification will be either beneficial or neutral to the vast majority of graduate students, the following are the possible negative effects in rare situations:

  • Students receiving a Graduate Research Assistantship Fellowship will not be entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. We believe this is not a practical problem, because EI benefits are rarely available to students employed as research assistants for various reasons. (The conditions for EI eligibility can be found at ). EI benefits would be determined based on employment related earnings.  For a student taking a maternity or parental leave, the School of Graduate Studies provides a $5,000 bursary to funding eligible doctoral students who take a one term (or longer) parental or maternity leave to have a baby or adopt a child.
  • Students could have a small reduction in entitlement to Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefits. This is not likely to be a practical problem, because students who remain in Canada will normally earn enough CPP credit over their lifetime to reach their maximum entitlement.
  • Status with respect to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is not determined by tax status; the WSIB makes its own determination quite independent of the CRA's determination. In the event of an injury occurring on campus, the incident would be reported to our carrier (CURIE) and the University's liability insurance policy would respond
  • A student currently receiving employment income as an RA is entitled to the "Canada Employment Credit", claimed once a year on the tax return. This credit is currently worth $164 for 2012 (indexed to inflation, so expected to be about $166 for 2013). If the RAship is reclassified to a GRAF, the  fellowship income is fully exempt, the student should always be better off since there will be no tax at all on the RA payment  (instead of tax on employment income with this small credit).
  • RAs who receive income in the form a Graduate Research Assistant Fellowship are not employees, and therefore would not be entitled to 4% vacation pay. However, it is typically the case that this 4% is not currently paid "on top of" the agreed amount of pay, and therefore will not have an impact.

Queen's Human Resources
Fleming Hall, Stewart-Pollock Wing
Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6.
T: 613.533.2070 | F: 613.533.6196