The first step in setting up a union is to set up the union details. Navigate to the Union Entry screen. On the Navigation pane enter [c] Payroll, then [u] Set Up, then [b] Union Entry:

Use the ‘A’ action to add a new union:

We’ll outline what the different fields on this screen mean:

Pay Period Type

The type of pay period indicates how frequently cheques are issued:

  • Weekly – Every 7 days
  • Bi-weekly – Every 14 days
  • Semi-monthly – 15th and 30th of the month
  • Monthly – last day of each month

The type of pay period affects the Record of Employment created when an employee is terminated.

If there’s a change in rates, Abio will use the rates effective on the last day of the pay period.

Staff vs Non-Staff

When you setup a union, you indicate if it’s for staff or not. Staff unions don’t require the complex union deductions that non-staff unions do. However, you do need to setup individual RRSP vendors for staff. With unions, RRSP and pension will be handled by the union.

As well, vacation and statutory pay are always based on hourly earnings for staff unions. Union shops can have a variety of flavours for vacation earnings.

Abio can also categorize any staff labour posted to a job as an administration cost, rather than a labour cost.

General Ledger Account

This is the General Ledger Account that money will flow into and out of when invoices are generated for this union. Invoices for union dues and benefits are created each time payroll is run to pay union dues and benefits. Those invoices will be posted to this General Ledger account.

If you click on the G/L account hot link, you’ll be taken to the entry screen for that G/L account.

Here we clicked on the G/L account for an existing union:

Each account has an opening balance and a monthly balance. If you click on any of the month labels, you will see a report of all the activity for that G/L account during that month.

If you click on the one of the detail lines in the G/L Account Activity report, Abio will display the originating item. In this case, the originating item is a cheque:

You can get a description of what amounts are remitted to the union by hovering over the ‘union remit’ label. Clicking on the ‘union remit’ hotlink gives you a breakdown of the total amount remitted to the union for this cheque, which matches the amount in the G/L Account Activity report that brought us to this cheque.

There may be a discrepancy between the union remittance reported on the screen and the amount on the report. The field on the screen shows the union overhead for the employer. As such it only includes the amount paid by the employer, and not amounts paid by the employee. In this example the amount on the screen is $18.86 and the report shows $20.74. That’s because field dues ($1.88 in this example) are remitted to the union, but paid by the employee and so don’t represent an extra overhead.

By using Abio’s hyperlinks you can track your income and expenses to the penny. As one client put it, with Abio you know everything about everything.

The G/L account is debited each time invoices are posted to that G/L account. At the same time, the A/P Payable G/L is credited for the same amount (aka dual-entry accounting method). This all gets reversed when the invoice is paid.

While the trade union’s G/L account is specified on the union’s Details tab, the A/P Payable G/L account is defined as a control account. You can find the control accounts under [d] General Ledger, [u] Set Up, then [f] Control Account Entry:

The A/P Net Payable account can be found on the third tab. In this case, account 310000 is the G/L account that A/P invoices are cleared through. Hovering over any of the control account labels will describe the type of activity for that account.

[d] General Ledger | [u] Set Up | [f] Control Account Entry

Of course you can track the same level of detail through the A/P Net Payable account as you can through the trade union account. But we digress. Let’s get back to setting up your union!


This is where you specify the building trade this union represents, such as carpenters or pipefitters. Each trade will have levels of achievement within their training program. Several levels of apprenticeship, then journeyman, then foreman, etc. Specify a trade if RRSP, pension, or shift premiums are based on your level within your trade.

Show Hours on Cheque

Employee pay cheques are issued with a cheque advice portion. The cheque advice itemizes the different amounts that are included in the cheque, such as vacation, statutory pay, CPP, union dues etc. If you select this option, the regular, time and a half and overtime hours will be listed with the other amounts on the cheque advice portion of the cheque.

To demonstrate this option, we can use the Reprint Employee Cheque Advice. This report is found under [c] Payroll, [i] Cheque Reports, [q] Reprint Employee Cheque Advice:

Here’s an example of a cheque for a union with ‘show hours on cheque’ selected:

[c] Payroll | [i] Cheque Reports | [q] Reprint Employee Cheque Advice

Employer RRSP Settings

These settings serve a very specific need for a large job. They are not likely relevant to new Abio users, but they do illustrate how adaptable Abio is. If you’re running a large job and the union you’re dealing with has a requirement, we can accommodate you.

The tooltips on these settings identify how they are applied.

Overtime Multipliers

Set up your pay rates more quickly by telling Abio how to calculate overtime pay. When you enter your base rate, Abio will apply these multipliers to default the overtime rates.

Staff Vacation

Vacation is usually expressed as a number of days. For calculation purposes, this is recorded as a percent. The vacation percent is applied to the cheque’s hourly earnings to determine the vacation earned.

Percent is misleading, though. It makes sense when vacation is being paid out immediately. If, however, an employee banks vacation and takes it in the future, the percentage calculated at past rates is no longer accurate.

If your pay increases between the time you earned your vacation and when you take your vacation, that doesn’t affect the number of days off you’ve earned.

However, say that you bank vacation days at a lower rate, and redeem them when you are earning a higher salary. If you take a dollar amount that’s been accumulated at your old rate, it took you more time to earn that dollar in the past than it does now at your higher rate.

To be perfectly correct you should be tracking your employee’s vacation hours, not their dollars. Then, if they cash in their banked vacation hours, you calculate their payout to be their vacation percent applied to the hours they’ve banked extended at their current hourly rate.

Abio manages this all for you. Set your staff union to track vacation hours.

[c] Payroll | [u] Set Up | [b] Union Entry

Whenever the cheques are issued for the employee, their vacation percentage of earnings will be converted to vacation hours earned at their current rate.

Then, regardless of what their hourly rate was when they banked those hours, they can use them at their current rate. When you’re adjusting vacation amounts on a cheque you can draw from their vacation hours.

Show Dues on T4

Some unions issue their own T4 slips for union dues. To avoid sending out duplicate information let Abio know that dues for these unions shouldn’t be included on their member’s T4s.