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Canadian uni blamed users after Workday HR switch, but some teaching assistants say they're still waiting to be paid

'No concrete solutions' as of mid-December

Updated Teaching assistants at Canada's McGill University spent Christmas waiting to be paid as the institution struggled with a new Workday HR and payroll system, according to the Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill (AGSEM).

The association said that more than 460 TAs were not paid within the first 30 days of starting work, while more than 180 TAs were not paid within the first 60 days, and many had not been paid as of 22 December.

In October, the university said there were no issues with McGill's payroll system as a result of the transition to Workday. It said there had been "difficulties with hiring and onboarding processes for some new employees", issues that affected sessional and casual appointments, and resulted in delayed pay for "some".

At the time, the institution put the problems down to "isolated technical problems" and/or "patterns of misunderstanding or repetition of certain errors by users". Absence of critical information such as banking details was also a factor, it said.

But in a December statement, AGSEM claimed issues caused by the Workday HR system were not individual problems and that at least 10 departments did not pay any of their TAs within the first 30 days of their contracts.

"In addition, the Workday system does not supply pay stubs that are compliant with the Labour Standards Act. Teaching assistants will now be expected to complete the same onboarding as a full-time, permanent staff member, creating confusion and an undue burden on student-employees. The Workday system is also in violation of AGSEM's Collective Agreement in terms of the application process and notification of the application's outcome," it claimed.

The association said the university had assured it that the situation would be fixed in October, then November. As of mid-December, there were "no concrete solutions", it said in a statement.

It said it had been told that the university would not consider changes to Workday until after winter 2021.

Workday and McGill have yet to respond to The Register's requests for comment.

The Workday cloud-based system went live in August 2020. It replaced a Banner Human Resources Information System (HRIS) and Payroll One-Time Payment System (POPS), which were "two outdated systems", the university said in an article headed "10 Reasons to be Excited About Workday at McGill!"

Another North American institution, Washington State University, will be hoping to avoid McGill's issues with Workday. It went live with the same vendor on 16 December – with first paycheques due on 11 January – after a six-month delay. ®

Updated at 08:37 UTC on 5 January 2021 to add:

McGill has been in touch to say: "The University has resolved all known instances that affected new hires at the start of the Fall semester, and is rapidly solving any new cases as they arise. Most of the delays encountered in getting new employees through the hiring process were attributable to isolated technical problems (e.g. a data upload for high volume hiring), to patterns of human errors made when inputting personal records, including missing banking details necessary for direct deposit, or inputting or approving worked hours in due time.

"Since the rollout of Workday back in August, more than 30 staff members have been focused on supporting end-users and resolving the various business process issues that have surfaced over the course of the fall semester. Since then, a number of measures have been put in place to help ensure the next round of hiring for Winter 2021 goes as smoothly as possible. Enhanced user support and training and process improvements are ongoing and will continue to be a priority."

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