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Academic Views

What’s in the Collective Agreement for Sessionals

All sessional instructors are members of the Faculty Association. The Association has consistently used grievances and bargaining to negotiate representation rights and protections for sessionals. We believe one strong reason for gains we have made has been due to the united front the Faculty Association is able to maintain through representing both ongoing and sessional academic staff members. The Association has worked to strike a balance between trying to slow the casualization of academic work while trying to improve the working conditions of those academics while they are in sessional positions.

The following is an overview of recent changes to benefits for sessional academic staff and some other benefits of interest. Further information on protections, salary, and benefits for sessional academics can be found in Article 23 and ‘Schedule B’ of the Collective Agreement.


Salary rate minimums for sessionals, which are outlined in ‘Schedule B’ of the Collective Agreement, are established as steps. After a sessional teaches 8 half-course equivalents they are automatically moved up to the next step on the grid. The Collective Agreement, ratified in June 2022, introduced two new steps to provide additional salary progression for long-term sessionals. Given the timing of this change, some sessionals may have been moved from step 5 to step 6 after their appointment letters were issued. It is important to note that salary rates are set as minimums only, so although sessionals must be paid at least the minimum at the step they are hired, they can also be paid more at any given step. While the normal in some Faculties is to pay only the minimum specified by the steps, other Faculties may offer higher salaries.

The current minimum salary for sessional staff ranges from base at $6,338 to step 7 at $7,351. Sessional academic staff pay will increase by 1.25% on March 31 and 1.5% on December 1, 2023. An additional 0.5% Gain Sharing increase shall be applied retroactive if Alberta’s Real GDP for 2023 is at or above 2.7%. These increases will be applied both as across the board increases to sessional staff earning more than the minimum and increasing the step minimums. The full details of these steps and the negotiated increases can be found in ‘Schedule B’ of the Collective Agreement.

Sick Time

For sessionals with contracts longer than six months and six HCEs, the number of casual illness days increased from five to 10 work days. After that, if sick time is required, the rate of pay will be $1,000 per month or 50% of salary, whichever is greater. For sessionals who don’t meet that six-month, six-HCE threshold, the number of casual illness days increases from three to 10 work days.

Maternity Leave

The Collective Agreement now has provisions to accommodate maternity leaves for sessionals under Article 23.14. All sessionals can get leaves, including parental leaves, as required by the Employment Standards Code. For sessionals who have contracts of six months or longer with six HCEs or more, those who take maternity leave receive salary top-up pay for 15 weeks or to the end of the sessional contract, whichever is less.

Recognition of Other Appointments

After a sessional teaches seven (7) half-course equivalents they gain the right of first refusal for courses they apply for, provided they have taught within the last five years and subject to having a good record of performance plus the requisite knowledge, skills, and professional qualifications for the position (Article 23.12).

Access to Resources Between Contracts

A new provision (Article 23.16 in Sessional Appointments) was established to ensure that sessionals have access to necessary services between contracts. The provision states that in cases where sessional staff signed a contract that hasn’t yet commenced, “the Governors shall endeavour to ensure that at least 30 workdays before the contract commences the sessional appointee has access to the services normally provided to academic staff to prepare to teach a course.” Also, when a sessional appointee has a contract and signs a successor contract, the Governors must continue to provide access to such services in the intervening period.

Sessional academic staff may not be aware of provisions in the Collective Agreement for professional expense reimbursement (PER) for sessionals, similar to the one for ongoing academics. Sessionals are eligible for $175 per half-course equivalent up to $1,750 per academic year. We recognize that sessionals often have periods of time when they are outside of contract employment, and we have worked to improve the flexibility for using PER and other University resources while between contracts. Unspent PER may be carried forward to subsequent appointments in the following academic year. In addition, sessionals can now submit eligible expenses incurred up to 3 months in advance of the commencement of their contract and up to 3 months after the end of their contract, so long as the expenses were incurred in relation to fulfilling the respective contract.

Sessional Travel Fund

The Faculty Association first offered Sessional Travel Grants in 2013. These grants provided funding to assist sessional academics with making scholarly presentations, attending conferences, or other scholarly activity in their field. This fund was eventually negotiated as an employer paid benefit in the Collective Agreement with the establishment of a joint Sessional Travel Fund Committee and an annual fund of $30,000.

While the Governors have agreed to continue to fund the program with $30,000 per year, the Collective Agreement, has shifted responsibility for the administration of the fund to the Faculty Association. As such, the Associations Board of Directors and staff are working to implement this new program and aim to begin welcoming grant applications later this fall.

Fair Employment Week 2022
1. What About Sessionals?
2. What’s in the Collective Agreement for Sessionals
3. CAUT Fair Employment Week Activities
4. Member Emergency Funding
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