Our Sessional Lecturer Proposals: Salary

Bargaining Updates 2019

This is one of three blog posts focusing on our Sessional Lecturers. The Association has proposals addressing salaries, benefits, and job security/access to work, for our colleagues in the precariat. This post focuses on our Sessional Lecturer salary proposals.

Rationalizing the Salary Grids:

Sessional Lecturers are paid by the course (technically by the credit), and are subject to a set of minimum scales which vary by Faculty. The majority of Sessional Lecturers, in the Faculty of Arts and most other Faculties, have a minimum salary scale that ranges from $6,915 (Step 1) to $7,502 (Step 8) for a three-credit course. However, some Sessional Lecturers have a much lower minimum scale. In the Faculty of Education, Sessional Lecturers have a minimum salary scale that ranges from $5,482 (Step 1) to $6,063 (Step 8) for a three-credit course. These multiple scales make no sense and, as far as we can tell, no other university pays their Sessional Lecturers this way.

In addition to its obvious unfairness, this system is massively complicated. Moving up the scales is not a simple matter of one step per year. Since many Sessional Lecturers are only given a part-time load, it typically takes more than one year to advance one step. One Sessional Lecturer whose first appointment at UBC started in 2007 is now, over 12 years later, on Step 5, after teaching 120 credits (the equivalent of 40 courses). Another Sessional Lecturer, first appointed in 2004, is now, 15 years later, at Step 7. This colleague has taught 210 credits, or 70 courses.  Yet another, first appointed in 1997, didn’t get to top of scale until 2018. This is ridiculous. Incidentally, these are not the only cases of Sessional Lecturers who have given enormous service over the years. Many have taught over 300 credits (100 courses). Some have taught over 400 or even 500 credits. Two have taught over 700 credits. These are not the casual employees UBC likes to pretend they are.

The Association has made a proposal that eliminates these multiple grids, provides salary increases for our lowest-paid members, and massively reduces the computational burden on our Sessional Lecturers (and the University) required to negotiate this tangled system.  We have proposed a single standard definition of full-time and a common minimum course-rate for all Sessional Lecturers, regardless of what Faculty they are in or how many courses they have taught.  This is the same model by which most contingent faculty at other Canadian universities are paid. We are proposing a per-course minimum rate equivalent to the top of the minimum scale that currently applies to Sessional Lecturers in Arts and most other Faculties.

Vacation pay:

Sessional Lecturers don’t get paid vacation. Instead, they get vacation pay. They currently earn vacation pay of 4% of gross earnings, which rises to 6% after 5 consecutive years of full-time equivalent service. This is actually less than the provisions in the BC Employment Standards Act, which provides for 6% after 5 consecutive years of employment and does not require those years to be full-time-equivalent. 4% is equivalent to 2 weeks; 6% is equivalent to 3 weeks. We have proposed 8% (equivalent to one month paid vacation time), for all Sessional Lecturers, regardless of how many years they have worked at UBC. This again simplifies these calculations and provides a small wage increase for our lowest-paid colleagues.


Sessional Lecturers, unlike other faculty members, are covered by Part 4 of the Employment Standards Act, which provides for workers to be paid 1.5 times their normal salary if they work more than 40 hours per week. Of course it can be tricky to figure out number of hours per week of people who get paid by the course, but it is pretty obvious that Sessional Lecturers who teach more than a full-time load, as some do, are working overtime.  Both Sessional Lecturers and the University have an interest in acknowledging (and paying for) the extra burdens of working more than full-time, especially for colleagues who are not paid a professional salary.

We propose to simplify and clarify when Sessional Lecturers are entitled to overtime payment. It involves establishing deemed hours of work for courses taught by Sessional Lecturers. Not only will this help solve the overtime problem, but it will also establish the deemed hours necessary for Employment Insurance. The University already does provide deemed hours in the Record of Employment issued to Sessional Lecturers; we propose simply to put the deemed-hours calculator in the Collective Agreement. This is something that a lot of other universities do. The University of Toronto deems a one-term three-credit course taught by a Sessional Lecturer to be equal to 230 hours. Our proposal is that each credit shall be deemed to be equal to 75.56 hours, which works out to 226.68 hours for a three-credit course.

We think that these simple fixes can help our underpaid and arbitrarily rewarded colleagues feel a little more of the professional respect they are clearly owed. UBC’s Strategic Plan promises to provide “structures and processes to support the…faculty…who make robust contributions to the intellectual, social and economic lives of our communities.” These are some small steps on salary issues for Sessional Lecturers that we can take toward this noble goal.

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