Avoiding Overwork

Work Limits

The Collective Agreement ensures that you are able to work without your studies being negatively impacted. Your supervisor cannot ask you to work more than twenty-five (25) hours per week. Moreover, you cannot be required to work more than forty (40) hours for a period of two (2) consecutive weeks. We recommend that you use a tally sheet to keep track of your hours in order to avoid overwork.

Workload Planning

Your supervisor should meet with you at the beginning of the semester to discuss the number of hours allocated to each task, and meet again after mid-semester to review how your hours have been spent so far. Throughout your contract, your supervisor should plan the calendar and workload with you. If you are unsure about the amount of time you should spend on a task, request clarification from your supervisor.

You have the right to stop working after your hours are completed, regardless of how many assignments remain to be accomplished or what the other TAs are tasked to complete. Your supervisor has the responsibility to ensure that the work they assign to you can be completed in the number of hours indicated in your contract. Any leftover work to be done after your hours are completed is to be done by the supervisor, unless the Chair of the department has approved more hours and you accept these new contract hours.

Workload Review Form

If you think you will exceed the hours stipulated in your contract, and you still have tasks to accomplish, we recommend that you fill out the Workload Review Form as soon as possible and submit it to your supervisor.

On the form, be sure to explain that almost all your hours have been completed and that you will not be able to accomplish all the tasks indicated in your contract within the specified hours. Your supervisor should then meet with you within four (4) working days to discuss the problem.

Your supervisor may then decide:

a) To not increase the number of hours in your contract. In this case, they will have to find a way for the work to be accomplished within the remaining hours by reducing other responsibilities. This agreement will need to be confirmed in writing.

– or –

b) To increase the number of hours so that the tasks may be completed. In this case, they will have to seek written permission from the Director of the Department before you can work overtime. Additional hours will be paid as a new contract.

If the above procedure is not followed, you are not required to work beyond the end of your contract, and you are not required to work more hours than are stipulated in your contract without getting paid for the extra work.


It’s not always easy to navigate school and work when they coincide on the calendar, especially when you need to take care of yourself and visit home. If you have a contract as a TA, RA, Marker, or Proctor, we’d like to remind you that you cannot be obligated to work from December 23 to the first day of classes in the Winter semester, as per Article 23.2 of the Collective Agreement.


Usually, exams need to be corrected and marks need to be entered in the 10 business days following the date of examination. In cases in which the exams cannot be corrected prior to the beginning of the holiday season (i.e. before the end of the contract, usually Dec. 31), the Employer should contact you to ask you if you agree to do the work after the holidays, in January.

You can accept to push back the work without changing when you get your pay. This can be discussed and accepted verbally, but we recommend that you get written confirmation (such as by email) to avoid possible misunderstandings.

If you are not willing or able to complete the work after the holidays, you can also refuse. Instead, you may be asked to complete other tasks prior to the beginning of the holiday period. Supervisors, as salaried professionals, are responsible for making sure the work is completed (i.e. they might need to do it themselves if you can’t). It is, therefore, important for you and your supervisor to establish a clear schedule early in the semester.

If you have any questions about avoiding overwork, please contact us at info@2626.ca. All questions and issues remain anonymous.


CUPE 2626

85 University Private
University Centre, suite 303
Ottawa, ON
K1N 6N5

Office Hours


Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Wednesday: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Thursday: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Friday: Closed

Office hours Winter 2024


Monday to Friday: 9:00 am to 4:00 pm

Offices hours are subject to change.