Skip to main content

Research staff are paid through the University payroll system. The University does not pay for services using cash. Depending on the type of engagement many factors come into play. To guide you through the process ensuring compliance with University policies and procedures, and with Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) regulations below is information on the various types of engagement situations. Also refer to the Employees Paid from Research Funds policy and Persons Paid from Research Grants and Contracts Held by York University Faculty Members policy and procedure.

Non-Student Process

To hire non-student research staff PI's should contact their faculty research administrator or visit the Human Resources "Services for Researchers" website.

Graduate Student Process

All payments to graduate students are processed through the Faculty of Graduate Studies, regardless of the type of income being paid. PI's can also contact their departmental Graduate Program Assistant. More information and contact information can be found on the graduate students recruitment website.

Undergraduate Students and Staff Process

Payment to undergraduates and staff for services on a research project are made through Payroll. If the payment is of short-term duration, the work is considered to be of casual nature, and a completed Employee Transaction Form (ETF - Staff Form) is required. More information is available on the Human Resources, Documents and Forms for Researchers website.

Small Businesses or Individuals Process

When a small business or individual is engaged to provide a service on a research project at York, the factor determining payment arrangements is whether there exists an employee-employer relationship.

Prior to engaging the service an Independent Contractor Questionnaire needs to be submitted to General Accounting, Finance. The questionnaire is assessed to determine the employee-employer relationship and the decision is communicated to the PI.

In instances where the work done by faculty, students and staff on research projects is considered employment, the payment for services is done through the Payroll system . Depending on the type of hire an ETF form, available on the Human Resources, Documents and Forms for Researchers website, is completed and sent to Payroll.

When the assessment determines the work performed is that of an independent contractor the payment for services is processed through Accounts Payable, Finance (see below).

Independent Contractors Process

An Independent Contractor is defined as a person or entity retained under a fee-for-service arrangement that is not an employment agreement, to perform specific tasks under a client's direction for a limited period of time.

To determine how the contractor should be paid, an Independent Contractor Questionnaire needs to be submitted to Research Accounting, Finance before finalizing the contract.

Employers should refer to York's Employee/Employer vs. Independent Contractor Guideline. Further information regarding Independent Contractor relationship can also be found on the CRA website Employee/Self-Employed.

Consultants Process

A Consultant is defined as a person or entity that under an agreement, other than an employment agreement, provides expert or strategic advice and related services for consideration and decision-making.

Regardless of total purchase value, all consulting services are to be competitively bid. Contact Procurement Services for assistance.

Research Participant Fee Process

Nominal payments to individuals (e.g. research subjects, survey participants) can be paid by cash, cheque or gift card and claimed back (e.g. cash or gift cards up to $300 per person). PI's or signing delegates are required to obtain signed receipts and/or proof of payment.

Payment to translators or guides and other service providers in remote locations or third world countries can be paid by cash. To arrange this, contact Research Accounting ahead of time.


An honorarium is a gift of an object or a small sum of money, normally less than $500, in thanks for a favour done for the University by an individual. A SIN number is required for all payments of gifts. At the end of the calendar year, individuals who have received any payment for a gift will receive a T4A. In the case where an individual is a York employee and is paid an honorarium, the payment is treated as employment income, subjected to all statutory withholding of source deductions and as such is reported on a T4.

If the "honorarium" is expected by the recipient for the completion of a task for the University, or the value of the honorarium is greater than $500, it is no longer considered a gift, but instead is a Fee for Service. Prior to the engagement of any individual for a service, the Independent Contractor Questionnaire needs to be completed and submitted to General Accounting for assessment of whether the individual should be paid via invoice or through Payroll. Honorariums are paid via Payroll and you will need to include the individual's SIN, the Honorarium Payment Form can be found on the Human Resources website.

Examples of supporting documentation include:

  • Copy of the invitation to speak or participate in the event
  • Meeting agenda with names of participants
  • Poster of the event clearly indicating the participation of the individual being paid

Note: A payment to a company or association cannot be classified as an honorarium.

Payments to Non Residents Process

Individual payments to non residents doing consulting or other work in Canada are paid through Payroll using the Non-Resident Payment Form found on the Human Resources, Documents and Forms website. A 15% withholding tax is deducted and the payee will receive an Non Resident (NR) T4 slip. If the individual has applied for and received a tax waiver confirmation from CRA the payment is exempt from tax and no withholding tax will be deducted. Tax waivers must be received four (4) weeks prior to payment.

Payments to non residents for consulting services or other work performed outside of Canada are paid through Payroll using the same form above and not subject to withholding tax. No T4A is provided.

Teaching Course Buyout

Researchers sometimes enter into research agreements with external agencies that will allow for a teaching course buyout. The sponsoring agency of the research agreement provides funding to cover the teaching time of the researcher. The department will assess what the cost will be to hire a contract instructor and that amount is then charged back to the research fund. The departments operating cost centre, where the teaching salary is paid from, is credited with this amount.


The advancement of funds to research partners on SSHRC and NSERC grants is not allowed. Payments to research partners are processed based on invoices submitted to York University for payment of services.

Advancement of funds can be processed for co-applicants and co-investigators named on SSHRC or NSERC grants and this is done via an Interinstitutional Agreement drafted by ORS and a completed Request for Accountable Advance form from the PI.