Negotiating a Probationary Position

Signing a probationary contract at Western?

First and foremost, probationary and tenured faculty at Western are unionized and so have a Collective Agreement that will structure the conditions of your employment. Take some time to familiarize yourself with your Collective Agreement -- see in particular the Article Compensation and Benefits and the Article Promotion and Tenure.

Starting salaries

The Collective Agreement specifies salary floors for all ranks, including assistant professor. Keep in mind that these are indeed floors; you have every right to negotiate for a salary higher than the floor if you feel that this is justified (by virtue of your discipline, your expertise, your career stage, etc.). You should pay close attention to the salary offered since your starting salary will be a critical determinant of your career earnings and the ultimate size of your pension. (We know that retirement seems an eternity away, but it will come!)

Start-up grant

All probationary appointments are entitled to apply for a start-up grant. This can be used for, among other things, the purchase of a computer, conference travel, etc. The Collective Agreement provides that this grant can be at least $7,000. This, however, is usually a minimum, and many incoming assistant professors have negotiated much higher amounts. Indeed, it may be easier to negotiate a dramatically higher start-up grant (which is one-time money) than a dramatically higher salary.

Term free of teaching

If you are appointed to a probationary contract of more than 5 years, you are entitled to request a Fall or Winter term free of teaching. Some faculty take this in their first year; others take it as they get closer to the end of their probationary contract (and so closer to the tenure and promotion decision).

Other things to ask about (if applicable)

  • Credit toward sabbatical for time in rank at another university
  • Timing of tenure (and promotion) decision
  • Moving allowances (there is a standard formula here, but there is no reason you cannot negotiate a higher figure); ask either the department or UWOFA for a copy of the Moving Allowance Policy
  • Pension plan and benefits coverage
  • Immigration fees (try to get the university to cover some or all of this)


Make sure that all research support promised by the Dean will be documented in your Letter of Appointment.