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PSAC Local 610
University of Western Ontario
1313 Somerville House
London, ON  N6A 3K7

General Inquiries:
519.661.4137 (p)
519.850.2998 (f)
psac610@psac610.ca

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Monday- Friday: 10am - 2pm

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The "10 Hour Rule"

Although many TAs and graduate students have heard of the university's supposed "10 hour rule" regulating employment hours, the actual rules and regulations about graduate student employment are often a source of confusion and concern. Many believe that the "10 hour rule" is the maximum number of hours a graduate student may work in all forms of paid employment per week, on average. However, this is not the case.

 

Our Collective Agreement (CA) does state that, "Consistent with the Federal Granting Councils and the Ontario Graduate Scholarship programs, as well as the Ontario Council on Graduate Studies, the University believes that the acceptable time spent on GTA employment is an average of ten (10) hours per week." It is very important to note that this clause of the CA refers only to our employment as Teaching Assistants and not to employment outside of our Teaching Assistantships.

The "10 hour rule" is in fact, not a hard and fast regulation. Rather, it is a recommendation communicated by the university 1) To protect Teaching Assistants to ensure that the number of hours they are expected to work is not increased while their pay stays the same (thereby decreasing their hourly rate of pay), and 2) To ensure that graduate students progress through their studies as expected by their department.

However, we have learned that some departments have told their graduate students that they are not allowed to work beyond 10 hours per week and as a result, some members have quit good paying jobs that would have otherwise helped to support them throughout the duration of their studies, while also providing them with continued employment upon graduation. Others go to great lengths to conceal their employment from colleagues and faculty. We know that TAs and graduate students can often not meet their financial needs solely through the funding package they receive from the university, which normally includes a teaching assistantship based on an average of 10 hours of paid employment per week, and seek (or want to seek) additional employment as a result.

Members of the Local's Executive Committee recently met with Linda Miller (Vice Provost - Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies), to talk about this issue after some members approached the union to discuss their concerns about the enforcement of the "10 hour rule" within their department. According to Miller, the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies defines the "10 hour rule" according to the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities' definition of a full-time student, which is, in part, an individual who normally does not work more than 10 hours per week.

Miller made four crucial points when she said: 1) The ministry's definition is only a recommendation and not a hard and fast rule; 2) Denying students the right to work could constitute a human rights violation; 3) That in her role as Vice Provost, this is not an issue she worries about and she will not police how many hours of paid employment graduate students are working; and, 4) She understands the need for graduate students to work more than 10 hours per week based on financial need and considers this a non-issue as long as students who work more than 10 hours per week continue to make progress in the manner expected by their department.

International students with a valid study permit are, however, not allowed, according to the conditions of their study permit, to work more than 20 hours a week off-campus. There are no legal restrictions preventing international graduate students from working on-campus in addition to working the maximum 20 hours per week off-campus. However, as with domestic students, the university expects that international graduate students employed off-campus to continue to progress in their studies as expected.

Miller concluded that any graduate student who is concerned about this issue and/or who has been told by their department that they are not permitted to work beyond 10 hours per week and/or will have their funding cut back if they do, can contact her directly for assistance via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Unfortunately, this is not an issue the Local can formally grieve against the employer. Our main objective then, is to share this information with you so that you can be made aware of your rights as a graduate student at UWO and to let you know that you can contact members of the Local's Executive Committee if you would like more information or clarification about this issue.

PSAC610 / SOGS COMMON INFO:

A significant portion of our members are also members of the University of Western Ontario Society of Graduate Students.