Co-op expectations and responsibilities

By implementing both provincial (Ontario) and federal (Canada) legislation, in addition to Co-operative Education & Work-Integrated Learning Canada (CEWIL Canada) guidelines, we ensure that our co-op employers and students are protected.   

We’ve outlined the roles and responsibilities of all co-op participants. (updated November 2022) 

Roles and responsibilities

Roles and responsibilities: Employers

Employer commitment

Please review the recruiting ethics from Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada.  

  • Provide accessible, fair and accurate job posting information. 
  • Provide notice of interview times and cancellations. 
  • Honour all matches. 
  • Confirm all job offers in writing. 
  • Do not extend a co-op position into full-time while the student is still completing academic terms to reach their degree. 
  • Do not discuss job offers or rankings with student candidates at any stage of recruitment before the match. 
  • Do not make multiple job rankings or offers unless you have positions for multiple candidates. 

In addition, co-op employers must:

  • Respect the institutions' schedules regarding job postings, interview arrangements, job offers, etc. 
  • Protect student confidentiality/privacy as per University policy 46
  • Be informed and comply with Waterloo’s Co-operative Education policies and procedures. 
  • Comply with all Provincial and Federal Freedom of Information, Human Rights, Employment and Accessibility legislation. 
  • Have a written electronic monitoring policy in accordance with the Employment Standards Act.
  • Attempt to resolve violations of recruiting ethics at the local level. Where local resolution is not possible, violations should be brought to the attention of the National Board. 
  • Not provide candidates with confidential information about other companies. 
  • Not seek a candidate's assessment of another candidate.

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Respecting your student under harassment and discrimination policies

The Ontario Human Rights Code protects co-op students, like other employees, from harassment and discrimination.

Harassment includes: 

  • Unnecessary touching 
  • Leering or suggestive remarks 
  • Vexatious comments 
  • Reprisal for rejection of sexual advances 
  • Explicit pin-ups and graffiti 
  • Degrading jokes and comments 

Examples of workplace discrimination may include but are not limited to: 

  • Discrimination based on physical or mental disability 
  • Discrimination based on birth location or ethnicity 
  • Discrimination based on family status (i.e., motherhood/fatherhood, childless, etc.) 
  • Discrimination based on age 
  • Discrimination based on religion or other culturally held belief system 

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Consider the following when hiring


  • Hire co-op students for positions approved as creditable co-op positions. 
  • Hire co-op students as either an employee or engage them as an independent contractor
  • Provide appropriate compensation, working conditions, supervision, training and evaluation. 
  • Comply with applicable government statutes and legislation. 
  • Respect the University of Waterloo’s co-op process regarding job postings, interview arrangements, job offers, etc. 

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Job descriptions

  • Provide an accurate description of job duties, qualifications and skill level of the job advertised. 
  • Indicate whether you will hire a student as an employee or engage them as an independent contractor

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Interview process

  • Provide notice of interview times and cancellations to Co-operative Education in a timely fashion. 
  • Conduct interviews in the academic term preceding the work term whenever possible.
  • Interview in-person at the University of Waterloo or remotely (e.g., via phone or webcam) whenever possible.  
  • Follow the interview schedule as created and administered by Co-operative Education. 
  • Submit offers and rankings during the designated ranking period. 
  • Do not discuss job offers or rankings with candidates before, during or after interviews. 
  • Do not ask a student to accept a job offer ahead of the match, or about their ranking strategy ahead of the match. If a student asks you to make them a direct offer, or indicates that other companies are doing this, please contact your account manager. 
  • Do not provide candidates with information on other employed students, candidates or companies. 
  • Do not seek a candidate's assessment of another candidate. 

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Offer process (ranking)

  • Offer employment through Co-operative Education’s employment process only (i.e., do not make offers during or immediately following an interview). 
  • Rank candidates according to preference for the advertised position. 
  • Submit rankings via WaterlooWorks within the specified timeframe. 
  • Commit to hiring any student matched through the ranking process (i.e., honour all employment matches). 
  • Do not submit multiple job offers unless there are positions for multiple candidates. 

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Consider the following once you’ve hired a student

Setting your student up for success 

  • Prior to their start date, notify your team that you’ve hired a co-op student. 
  • Prepare your student's workspace prior to their start date. 
  • Give your co-op student an orientation about your organization at the start of each work term to help them transition into the job and adapt to a new working environment. Use our onboarding guide to help refresh your process.
  • Be prepared to discuss and provide accommodations if your student requests it. Your co-op student may work better with accommodations that make their work environment more accessible.  
  • Set goals together with your student so that they have something to work on achieving. Ensure your student is aware of your expectations and deadlines. 
  • Review the competencies on our Future Ready Talent Framework (FRTF) as these are the competencies your student will be evaluated on at the end of your work term. 

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Best practices for co-op student supervision 

  • Introduce your co-op student to the team. 
  • Have written guidelines about the position for your student. 
  • Set goals and expectations with your student. 
  • Allow your student time to ask questions. 
  • Assign your student projects and set project priorities with your student. 
  • Give project responsibilities to your student. 
  • Provide feedback on your student's work performance. 
  • Listen to your student when they approach you. 
  • Have your student complete a work status summary. 
  • Include your student in meetings that relate to their projects. 
  • Ask your student for input and recommendations. 
  • Prepare your student for work they may complete for other employees. 
  • Allow your student to job shadow other areas of interest within your organization.
  • Suggest a work report topic idea for your student if you have one (if your student is required by their faculty to write one). 
  • Complete a Student Performance Evaluation about your student before the end of their work term. 

*If your student is to be supervised by another student, there must be a full-time staff member supporting both students and completing the Student Performance Evaluation.

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Throughout your work term 

  • Comply with Provincial and Federal Freedom of Information, Human Rights and Employment legislation. 
  • Participate in a work term consultation between the supervisor and the student advisor during the student’s work term. 
  • Complete a Student Performance Evaluation form before the end of the student's work term and submit it to Co-operative Education via WaterlooWorks. 
  • Contact the appropriate student advisor before taking disciplinary action or considering the dismissal of a co-op student. 
  • Inform Co-operative Education of your plans if you wish to rehire a student for an upcoming work term. You can extend an offer of employment to the student for their next scheduled work term, prior to the end of their current work term, but you must inform Co-operative Education.  
  • Provide enhanced work for your student when the employer chooses to rehire for another work term. 
  • Do not transfer a co-op position into full-time employment for a student who has yet to complete the academic terms required for their degree. 

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Towards the end of your work term 

Before leaving the work term, we encourage employers to have their student(s): 

  • Revise the job description accordingly. 
  • Write/update a handbook or advice manual for incoming co-op students. 
  • Consider and implement feedback about improving the workplace and the position for future co-op students. 
  • Clarify if the student will return for the next scheduled work term. 

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Actions to take in case of a strike or labour disruption while your student is on a work term: 

  • Discuss the situation with your co-op student and notify the student advisor
  • Try to make alternate work arrangements with your student. 
  • Understand that the length and timing of the labour disruption will determine whether credit will be given for the work term. 
  • Consider working with your student and Co-operative Education to help the student find another position if the labour disruption is prolonged.  
  • Decide if you will pay your co-op student during a labour disruption.  
  • Ensure your student stays in touch with their student advisor during the labour disruption. 

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Employer accountability  

  • The University of Waterloo reserves the right to take the appropriate course of action if an employer does not comply with these policies and responsibilities. 
  • Any actions not following these policies and responsibilities will result in Co-operative Education following our established process to investigate work term issues and evaluate the conditions to support a safe and inclusive environment for University of Waterloo co-op students. If concerns remain unresolved in relation to student health and wellbeing, it could prevent the employer from being allowed to hire co-op students from the University of Waterloo in the future. 

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Roles and responsibilities: University of Waterloo

Co-op accreditation

Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada logo

The University of Waterloo is a full member of Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada. All of Waterloo’s undergraduate co-op programs, and select graduate programs, are accredited. Accredited programs meet the following criteria: 

  • Every co-op position is verified and approved by Co-operative Education.  
  • Co-op students are engaged in productive work rather than just observing.  
  • Co-op students receive some form of remuneration for their work.  
  • Co-op students’ progress on the work term is monitored by Co-operative Education.  
  • Student performance on the work term is evaluated by their employer.  
  • At least 30% of the time in a student’s degree must be spent on co-op work experiences (for graduate programs under two years: 25%). 

Important: Waterloo co-op programs are designed to meet and/or exceed all accreditation requirements and are administered solely by the University and not CEWIL Canada. Visit CEWIL’s post-secondary institutions page for more information about the organization and its benefits. 

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What Co-operative Education will do

  • Develop co-operative education employment opportunities with public and private sector employers that fulfil the co-operative education degree requirements.  

  • Maintain and enhance relationships with existing employers.  

  • Manage and administer the co-op employment process for employers and students (i.e., job postings, interview scheduling, interview facilities, computer matching, etc.).  

  • Present offers of employment (via rankings) on behalf of employers to students.

  • Maintain contact (work term consultations by e-mail or telephone) with students and employers through the employment process and during the work term.

  • Provide advice and support to students and employers if difficulties arise during a work term.

  • Ensure that any relevant and required documentation is provided to students, employers and the appropriate University department and/or faculty.

  • Establish and maintain records with information that reflects co-op students' co-op activities in accordance with Waterloo Policy 46

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It is the University of Waterloo's responsibility to: 

  • Inform co-op students, employers and other interested parties of their policies and procedures.  
  • Provide equal services to all students and employers.  
  • Accommodate employers' reasonable requests for job postings, interview space and presentation facilities.  
  • Provide co-op students with accurate information on all recruiting employers.  
  • Notify the employer of any hiring limitations prior to them conducting interviews. 
  • Follow ethical and legal guidelines in providing student information to employers.  
  • Comply with Provincial and Federal Freedom of Information, Human Rights and Employment legislation.  
  • Attempt to resolve violations of recruiting ethics at the local level. Where local resolution is not possible, violations should be brought to the attention of the National Board.  

Note: These ethics are reprinted with permission from Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada. For additional information, please review the CEWIL's Recruiting Ethics for employers, students and institutions. 

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Feasibility studies

Feasibility Studies are conducted to ensure the viability and longevity of co-op plans for all stakeholders: students, employers, faculty and Co-operative Education. 

In order to support Waterloo’s Institutional Quality Assurance Process (IQAP), Co-operative Education will conduct feasibility studies with the development of new or evolving co-op plans/programs. They will also be conducted when significant changes in curriculum or a course may affect the employability of co-op students.  

Feasibility studies allow us to assess potential shifts in demand for students who are admitted to new programs, change their study/work sequences, or learn new skills in their program. They also allow us to assess the lead time and resources anticipated to develop appropriate job opportunities for the projected supply of students.  

Our page about feasibility studies contains more information about our process and eligibility. 

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University closures

Snow day closure 

Snowstorms occasionally cause the University to close. When this happens, Co-operative and Experiential Education (CEE) and its facilities are also closed. Virtual interviews will continue as scheduled.  

Any in-person interviews scheduled for that day are cancelled and postponed to another date. The new dates will appear on your WaterlooWorks dashboard.  

You can find out if the University is closed by doing any of the following (after 6:30 a.m.): 

  • Check the University of Waterloo homepage for a closure notice. 

  • Call the University (519-888-4567) or our front desk (519-888-4026). A recorded message will tell you if the University is closed. 

Other closures 

There may be other reasons that cause CEE to cancel and postpone interviews. In these cases, we will post notices on the website and, if possible, attempt to contact co-op students with scheduled interviews to explain the cancellation or postponement. 

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