Understanding My Contract

Understanding My Contract

What you should know

We understand that contracts can be confusing. Here are the key steps to identifying your postdoctoral fellowship status and how this status affects your obligations and privileges at the University of Toronto.

Am I a Trainee or an Employee?

Trainee postdocs have applied for and obtained an award external to the university; such funding may be paid out through the university’s payroll system, or may be paid directly to the postdoc. Trainee postdocs also may receive a top-up from their supervisors. Employee postdocs are funded solely through a faculty member’s grant. The following chart outlines some of the differences between the two statuses of postdoctoral fellows.

Employee Trainee
Term of Engagement3 years initial maximum; 1 year minimum (with some exceptions)3 years initial maximum, no minimum, although one year is recommended for foreign nationals
Taxation & DeductionsT4 income: government legislated deductions; union duesT4A income; no deductions (but postdocs must pay income tax on CDN income)
Vacation and LeavesVacation: 3 weeks (15 days); Sick Leave: 5 days; Serious Illness Leave: 4 monthsPersonal Leave; 4 weeks (20 days). Covers vacation, sick days, etc.
Maternity and Parental LeavePregnancy: 16 weeks paid/36 weeks unpaid; Parental: up to 9 weeks paid, 26 weeks unpaidAs defined under the terms of the award
Green Shield Benefit CoverageSubsidized mandatory coverage; automatic enrolment and re-enrolmentIf paid through U of T payroll, may opt in at the unsubsidized rate; enrolment by form

About Hospital Postdocs

Are you a postdoc at one of the teaching hospitals affiliated with U of T? Because you’re working with one of our faculty members who has a cross-appointment with that hospital or institution, you can get library access (both in person and online).

To obtain library access, you’ll need a letter from your supervisor, written on institutional letterhead, indicating the following:

  • your name;
  • your date of birth; and
  • the end date of your fellowship.

Take this letter and a piece of government-issued photo ID to the Reader Registration desk at Robarts Library, 130 St. George Street, second floor.

International teaching hospital postdocs: if your institution does not provide health coverage for the three-month wait period before you are eligible for health insurance, you’re eligible for the University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP) through the Postdoctoral Office.

To obtain UHIP, please contact the Postdoctoral Fellows Office (sgs.postdoc@utoronto.ca). We will require copies of your passport, work permit, the passports/permits of any accompanying family members and your contract letter. Find out more details and links to current rates on the UHIP website.

Teaching hospital postdocs are not eligible to enrol in workshops or courses or apply for the extended benefit coverage available to U of T postdocs.


The University of Toronto Governing Council establishes the policy pertaining to postdocs at U of T. A University of Toronto postdoc is a postdoctoral fellow who is doing research on a U of T campus and/or is receiving a stipend from U of T.

Postdocs at a teaching hospital or another organization affiliated with U of T are not governed under the policies and procedures at U of T. Postdocs at U of T affiliate institutions are governed under the policies and procedures at the institution where the research is being completed and/or the institution from which they receive their stipend.

U of T has several policies approved by Governing Council and which apply to all postdocs. Each postdoc should become familiar with these policies, most of which are listed in Understanding University Policies & Standards.


Departmental chairs and faculty are requested to review the CUPE 3902 Unit 1 and CUPE 3902 Unit 5 Collective Agreements prior to engaging a postdoctoral fellow. Postdocs may not teach under Unit 3.

Postdocs who undertake duties such as teaching responsibilities while engaged at the University will fall under the provisions of the collective agreement. Union dues will be deducted on earnings for the teaching portion of the postdoctoral activities.

If teaching responsibilities are a requirement of the fellowship, the postdoc would still fall under the CUPE 3902 Unit 1 collective agreement for the teaching portion of his/her engagement. Please consult the CUPE 3902 Collective Agreement and/or email Labour Relations for further information.


Email: sgs.postdoc@utoronto.ca

In person: SGS Postdoctoral Office, 63 St. George Street, Room 101