Know Your Contract

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Is This My Job?

As dedicated, hard-working academics who always go ‘the extra mile’, we rarely ask ourselves “Is this my job?”. Traditionally, there has been good will on all sides when it comes to negotiating duties such as teaching, research and administration. Unfortunately, as pressures increase year-on-year, we might start to feel that our workload is becoming unmanageable with consequences on our health (including mental health) and work-life balance.

With universities attempting to introduce more targets and objectives, some universities offer career paths which allow academics to fulfil their full potential while offering manageable workloads. For example, some universities offer lectureships which concentrate primarily on teaching roles (with no or little responsibility for research output), or lectureships which concentrate primarily on research (with heavily reduced teaching loads). Other universities choose to attempt to impose more targets in every category (teaching, research and admin) on all academics. It follows that if a workload becomes unmanageable, this will have a negative impact on an academic’s health (including mental health), the students who he/she teaches and the quality of research, not forgetting job satisfaction and sense of well-being!

The Post-92 National Agreement

A national agreement reached in 1990 provided for an agreed contract of employment and national staff handbook text to be in place in each post-92 institution. Lecturers, Senior Lecturers and Principal Lecturers at Huddersfield University are all governed by the Post-92 National Contract. This is incorporated into Huddersfield’s Academic Staff Handbook.

Regardless of workload allocation models/methods used by your School/Department, if you feel your workload and duties do not comply with the Post-92 National Agreement, you are entitled to seek clarification and, if applicable, amendment/reduction of duties. At the end of the day, it’s your contract that counts!

It’s good to take time to review the conditions under which you work (It is, after all, what you’re paid to do!). A few highlights are presented here for your enjoyment and bedtime reading.

Take A Look …

Workloads

From the Academic Staff Handbook

workloads which damage performance and which are detrimental to the lecturer, students and the service must be avoided through good management practice in which academic managers (Heads of Departments, Subject Lecturers, Course Tutors etc) and their colleagues collectively determine optimum working practices which safeguard standards for all aspects of a lecturer’s role, and for individuals to manage their time in a fully professional way towards individual and corporate objectives.

From the Academic Staff Handbook

The norm for the working week is taken to be 37 hours.


Is your normal working week over 37 hours?

Is your manager ensuring that your workload is not having a detrimental effect on you?


Formal Scheduled Teaching

From the Post-92 National Contract

Formal scheduled teaching responsibilities should not exceed 18 hours in any week or a total of 550 hours in the teaching year. However, this provision will not apply in subject areas where the nature of the curriculum and teaching style make it inappropriate such as aspects of Teacher Education, Art, Design, Performing Arts, Music: in these subject areas scheduled teaching will be determined in accordance with paragraph 1.3.2 above.

The activities included in this category are:

  • xi)  giving lectures, seminars and tutorials, and undertaking laboratory, studio and specialist workshop teaching and demonstrating;
  • xii)  leading, teaching and supervising in connection with fieldwork and residential courses;
  • xiii)  scheduled supervision of research students, and other students undertaking project, dissertation, and assignment work;
  • xiv)  scheduled supervision of students on placements in industry and on teaching practice;
  • xv) scheduled assessment including invigilation and feed back from assessment in timetables classes.

From the Academic Staff Handbook

… where a lecturer has substantial managerial and administrative duties, this must be taken into account in determining the lecturer’s formal scheduled teaching. Where a lecturer has formal scheduled teaching duties, at or near the annual maximum, the duties involved in teaching and in related preparation and assessment mean that significant additional duties will not normally be required.


Your Formal Scheduled Teaching should not exceed 18 hours in any one week under any circumstances. In order to keep within this limit, has your manager allocated you sufficient time to carry out tasks/duties?

Are you still being allocated significant additional duties (research, admin etc) with formal scheduled teaching time near to the annual maximum?


Research

From the Post-92 National Contract

The contract indicates that as part of their duties, staff will normally be expected to engage in research and scholarly activity. The contract means that the period of the year outside the normal teaching weeks and a lecturer’s holiday period will primarily be devoted to research and scholarly activity. Although research and scholarly activity will be principally self-managed.

From the Academic Staff Handbook

It is essential that time set aside for research and scholarly activity should not be encroached upon. Only in exceptional circumstances, and with the prior agreement of the individual member of staff concerned, should that time be used for undertaking other duties and responsibilities. Wherever possible, the time devoted to research and scholarly activity by each member of the lecturing staff should be taken in periods of weeks rather than as separate days.

From the Post-92 National Contract

As part of your duties, you will normally be expected to engage in research and scholarly activity. The nature and extent of this will vary with the nature of the subject(s) you teach and the full range and balance of your duties and other commitments. In this context, ‘scholarly activities’ includes the production of books, contributions to books, articles and conference papers, and is to be construed in the light of the common understanding of the phrase in higher education.


Is your research time being encroached upon by other duties? If it is then it may not be your fault if you don’t achieve your research targets.

There is nothing in your contract which specifies which journals, conferences etc you should or should not publish in.


What If I’m Not Covered By The Agreement?

The Post-92 National Agreement covers Lecturers, Senior Lecturers and Principal Lecturers. UCU is campaigning to bring other staff into national bargaining. It’s still important to consider joining UCU if you are outside of the Post-92 National Agreement since we can provide valuable help and representation in matters of dispute.

Something’s Not Right

If you have any questions in relation to your contract or your workload allocation,  contact UCU in strictest confidence. We can offer advice, and only if you choose to proceed, we can support you in further action. We can only help you if you take the first steps in contacting us.

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