Staffing a constituency office is solely the responsibility of each Member. In order to limit the legal liability of Members and the Legislative Assembly, Members must formalize the terms and conditions of employment within an employment contract. A sample employment contract is available from Payroll Services. If a formal employment contract is not executed, an offer letter detailing terms of employment is required. For additional information, please contact Payroll Services. In addition, all the necessary payroll, benefit, and pension forms necessary to onboard a new constituency assistant are available on the Constituency Office Portal (please note that the Portal is intranet-based and is only accessible from the Legislative Assembly network).
Each Member determines the salary and other terms and conditions of employment for locally hired staff, unless they fall under a collective agreement. Staff cannot be a close relative of the Member.
Some caucuses may wish to establish “group conditions” for constituency office staff. Any individual or group conditions established cannot be binding on the Legislative Assembly.
Staff salaries are paid through the Legislative Assembly’s payroll system. Payroll Services will require a copy of the employment contract or letter of offer for new staff, who will also be required to complete the necessary employment forms. This service is provided strictly as a convenience to Members and should not be interpreted as meaning the individuals are employees of the Legislative Assembly or the Government of British Columbia.
The salary and benefits for regular full-time and part-time Constituency Assistants are deducted from the Member’s constituency office allowance.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is meant by “group conditions”?
Group conditions can be a union contract or an employment contract developed by the caucus, and they are applicable to all Constituency Assistants within the party. For example, group conditions could identify a salary schedule or vacation entitlement that applies to all staff.
Who is the employer?
The employer is the Member, who must register with WorkSafeBC and pay annual premiums.
What forms are required for a new hire?
New employees will be required to complete federal and provincial TD1 tax forms, direct deposit form, and the New Hire Information Form to be forwarded to Payroll Services, along with a copy of their employment contract or offer letter and a copy of their SIN (social insurance number) card. Note, the copy of the SIN will be destroyed after verification that the name used matches the name on the SIN card. Employees with the benefit package will be provided with additional benefit enrolment forms.
What is meant by “salary paid”?
The Constituency Assistant is set up on a regular pay schedule and paid a set amount every pay period. Any changes to the amount paid would require notification to Payroll Services. An example would be extra hours worked in addition to the normal work schedule for a particular period.
How are vacation and/or other leaves tracked?
All leaves are tracked and managed internally in the constituency office. Contact Payroll Services in a case of longer sick leave for benefited employees and when/if vacation payouts are required.
Is the office allowed to hire extra staff if they have a surplus in their account to cover the additional salary costs over the allotted monthly allowance?
This can only be a temporary arrangement. It is not uncommon to hire staff to replace a regular employee on a paid leave, or during a transition period where a person remains on payroll to train a new staff member. In both cases, it is acceptable practice to have the salary costs exceed the allowance.
Some constituency offices may require the use of temporary staff to assist during peak times. Employees hired on a temporary or “as and when required” basis are normally paid an hourly rate plus vacation pay, and in some circumstances can receive a health and welfare allowance in lieu of benefits.
Members are required to provide a letter of employment outlining the details of employment that include start date, hourly wage, vacation entitlement and the health-and welfare allowance, if applicable, and the termination date, if available. New employees will be required to complete TD1 tax forms and direct deposit form. It is highly recommended that Members formalize this relationship by way of an employment contract. Please contact Payroll Services for a sample template.
Bi-weekly time sheets will be required for an hourly-paid Constituency Assistant. Time sheets are to be submitted to Payroll Services on a timely basis in order to be processed in the next available pay run. The calculation of statutory holiday pay is done in the constituency office and is requested to be paid out via timesheets as well. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is no requirement for Members to provide additional benefits to temporary employees. Benefits are available to regular full- and part-time employees. The health and welfare allowance is only mandatory if outlined in a collective agreement or employment contract.
Constituency Assistants who are entitled to participate in the benefit plans are required to complete the enrollment forms and submit them to Payroll Services. The amount of the benefit chargeback will be deducted from the constituency office allowance. The chargeback rate is fixed and is calculated on the gross salaries of the employees participating in the plans. The current rate for benefits is 6.0% of the gross salaries. The Employer Health Tax (EHT) is also charged back to the constituency office and deducted from the constituency office allowance. The current rate for EHT is 1.95% of gross salaries.
A summary of benefit plans is provided below. Full details of the plan benefits and relevant forms are available on the Constituency Office Portal.
Extended Health and Dental: The extended health and dental plan provides coverage designed to partially reimburse for services not covered by the provincial Medical Services Plan or Pharmacare, such as prescription drugs, paramedical services (e.g., physiotherapy), dental services and vision care. The plan carrier is Canada Life Insurance Company.
Life Insurance: Employee basic life insurance provides coverage equal to three times the annual salary or employer paid minimum coverage ($100,000), whichever is greater. Coverage includes accidental dismemberment insurance, loss of sight insurance, and a terminally ill advance payment. Optional additional life insurance, optional family funeral benefit, and optional accidental death and dismemberment insurance are also available.
Short Term Injury and Illness (STIIP): Coverage provides for continuation of salary as per the STIIP stages up to a maximum of 75% pay. A maximum of $2,000 per month is paid by centralized Legislative Assembly funds after 30 calendar days of illness, at no additional cost to the constituency office. If the employee’s 75% pay is greater than $2,000 per month, the Member has the option to approve the additional coverage (up to the max of 75% of pay) out of the constituency office allowance. STIIP will continue for a maximum of 6 months. Employees will be required, if requested, to provide medical documentation to substantiate their claim. The Long-Term Disability Plan application process will start after 3 months of absence.
Long-Term Disability (LTD) Plan: Coverage provides for income continuation in the event of total disability due to illness or injury. Coverage under the plan is provided to eligible regular employees who are regularly scheduled to work a minimum of 50% of full-time, at no additional cost. Benefits are payable to eligible employees who have completed an initial 6 months of active employment. Benefits under this plan are equal to 68.3% of the first $2,500 of monthly earnings, plus 50% of earnings over $2,500 for Constituency Assistants. The plan is limited to the earlier of two years coverage or until the next provincial election. The insurance carrier for the LTD plan is Canada Life Assurance Company.
Employee Assistance Program (EAP): The EAP is under the umbrella of the B.C. Public Service Agency and provides confidential assessment, counselling and referral services for employees and family members with on-the-job or family concerns, or issues affecting job performance, at no additional cost. The EAP can be accessed 24/7 by phone at 1-800-655-5004 or online.
Pension Plan: The pension benefit is available to all regular full-time and part-time (minimum 0.5 FTE) Constituency Assistants. The employee contribution rate is currently 8.35%, while the employer contribution is 9.85% of a Constituency Assistant’s pensionable earnings. For information on eligibility, contact email@example.com. Each eligible employee will be required to complete an application or a waiver form. Once an application is accepted, contributions continue for the duration of employment. If an employee signs a waiver, they can opt into the plan at a future date but will not be eligible to buy back any previous service. Contributions to the plan are portable to any of the partnership plans within the public service. Full details of the pension plan can be obtained online at www.pensionsbc.ca in the section for public service employees or by phone at 1-800-665-3554.
Records of staff leave are to be maintained in each constituency office. All sick leave records must also be forwarded to Payroll Services, as there may be an impact on the employee’s pay. Members should ensure that the vacation entitlement for staff is indicated on the employment contract. A record should be kept for each employee accruing vacation time, overtime as banked time, and records of sick time which will be required in the event an employee has qualified for long-term disability. Proper records will reduce the potential for dispute.
Members will be required, upon termination of an employee, to provide Payroll Services with written notice of vacation time or overtime owing. Any vacation or lump sum payments will be recovered from the constituency office allowance.
It is up to the Member to ensure that vacation time is taken when possible. All unused vacation time becomes a legal responsibility to the constituency office. This means there needs to be sufficient funds to pay out the liability when it comes due. It is at the discretion of the Member to determine if unused vacation time can be carried over into another year. Alternatively, unused vacation can be paid out on an employee’s anniversary date, calendar year-end, by request, or on termination of employment.
Members are required to provide Payroll Services with written notice of any salary changes. This includes all incremental increases as outlined in an employment contract or collective agreement. Notice can be in the form of an email from the Member’s private email account, a written memo, or a completed Salary or Job Change Form, stating the effective date of change and the new salary amount, or by completing the office expense form. All retroactive pay will be recovered from the constituency office allowance and will be paid from the date of change until the date the change is implemented.
All Members must register, in accordance with the Workers’ Compensation Act, as employers with WorkSafeBC. Members can either request an application form from Payroll Services or can register online at www.worksafebc.com. If any office fails to register, they may be subject to a fine or penalty imposed by WorkSafeBC.
WorkSafeBC will make an assessment for the required premium based on the annual salaries paid. Assessments are sent to the constituency office once a year. It is the responsibility of each constituency office to calculate the premium owed, based on the salaries paid in the previous year and the current assessment rate provided. Since an elected official is not considered an employee, a Member’s salary is not included in the assessment. The amount of the premium is paid from the constituency office allowance.
Members will be required to send written notice, in a timely manner, to Payroll Services of any employee termination or lay off. It is important to note that late notice could result in an overpayment to an employee. The notice should include the date of the employee’s last day of work, the date of the last day of pay (if not the same), any monies owing other than regular pay, if applicable, and the reason for termination.
Payroll Services will process the final pay, the termination notice for the B.C. Pension Corporation, and the record of employment for the employee. Employees should be reminded to keep their mailing address current with Payroll Services to receive tax documents, such as T4s.
Members are obligated to provide compensation on termination or layoff of a Constituency Assistant as provided by the provincial Employment Standards Act. The Act only applies if a collective agreement does not. Questions about staff termination and layoff procedures should be directed to Payroll Services.
In some situations, Members will be required to contract a person or company to perform a specific job. It is important that Members follow the guidelines of a contract and not confuse this work with employment. Members should refer to the Canada Revenue Agency website at www.cra-arc.gc.ca for full details on determining the relationship. Please note that a Member may be subject to fines and penalties by the Canada Revenue Agency if it determines that an employee/employer relationship exists and the appropriate taxes were not remitted.
The following questions can be used as a quick reference to identify an employer/employee relationship or a contractor/self-employed worker:
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, an employer/employee relationship exists, and the employee should be paid through the payroll system with proper deductions taken at source:
- Does the payer determine what jobs the worker will do?
- Does the payer provide space, use of equipment, and/or office supplies to the worker?
- Does the payer determine the scheduled times when the worker will work?
- Does the payer control the method and amount of pay?
- Is the overall work environment between the payer and the worker one of subordination?
Contractor or Self-employed Worker
The following questions are a quick reference to identify a contractor or self-employed worker. Contract work is an eligible constituency expense and can be paid directly from the constituency office allowance:
- Is the work independent and within a defined framework?
- Can the worker work for someone else at the same time?
- Can the worker accept or refuse work from the payer?
- Is the worker responsible for their own workspace, equipment, and supplies?