On January 29, 2014, Laval University sent an email to all post-doctoral fellows informing them of the change in their status, as they are now considered employees. It is important to know that this was done unilaterally by the employer, without prior consultation with the union regarding the timing of the change in status. This has important implications for postdoctoral fellows, as they will now have to assume various social charges (provincial tax, Quebec Pension Plan and Quebec Parental Insurance Plan) as well as the federal tax to which they were already subject. It is important to note that it is not the unionization of postdoctoral fellows that makes them liable for certain social charges, but rather their recognition by the Commission des relations de travail as employees within the meaning of the Labour Code. Note that postdoctoral fellows recruited abroad may be exempt from provincial income tax. See the documentation and forms available on the Human Resources website.
It is important to say that STEP representatives are working very hard to minimize the impact of this change in status on the income of union members. A working session was held with the employer on January 31, 2014 and discussions have been ongoing since then. In this regard, postdoctoral fellows received a second email clarifying some of the information contained in the January 29, 2014 email.
It is also important to mention that collective bargaining and union coverage should improve the working conditions of postdoctoral fellows, particularly with regard to the disparities that may exist with other employment bodies at Université Laval. For example, postdoctoral fellows will be entitled to a holiday allowance equivalent to at least 4% of gross salary, an amount that was not previously paid to them.
Impact on pay
As you are already aware, Université Laval has unilaterally decided to change the method of remuneration for all postdoctoral fellows as of February 17, 2014. This has certain implications on the income of postdoctoral fellows for subsequent payrolls.
- Payroll of 26 February 2014: Due to the change in status, the University would not have paid any payroll on that date. However, the employer has committed to providing a pay advance equivalent to 60% of gross salary. The pay that should have been paid on this date will be recovered at the end of the contract.
- Payroll of 12 March 2014: Postdoctoral fellows will receive their gross salary from which will be subtracted the social charges (federal and provincial taxes, RQAP, RRQ) as well as an amount equivalent to a third of the pay advance.
- March 26, 2014 payroll: Postdoctoral fellows will receive their gross salary minus the social charges (federal and provincial taxes, RQAP, RRQ) and an amount equivalent to one third of the pay advance.
- April 9, 2014 payroll: Postdoctoral fellows will receive their gross salary minus the social charges (federal and provincial taxes, RQAP, RRQ) as well as an amount equivalent to one third of the pay advance.
- Payroll from April 23, 2014 onwards: Postdoctoral fellows will receive their gross salary minus social charges (federal and provincial taxes, RQAP, RRQ).
It is important to know that postdoctoral fellows were already subject to federal tax (15%) to which they had to contribute when they filed their annual income tax return.