Workload Standards

QUFA Members often contact us about workload and work assignment.

As you know, QUFA has been surveying Members about their workload to get a sense of the current issues. We hear that workload has increased, so it will be interesting to see whether the results of the survey support this anecdotal evidence.

Work assignment is only about teaching and service as research cannot be assigned. The Collective Agreement has a whole article about workload norms and assignment, Article 37. I am often asked about equitable workload assignment (37.1.2(d), 37.1.5(c)), transparency (37.1.4, 37.1.5(b)), varying workload over time (37.2.4), teaching that supports research (37.1.5(d)), and much more. It behooves each and every one of you to read this article with care.

In it is a very important process, that of creating and maintaining a Workload Standard for the academic unit. When Members ask me things like why they seem to get no credit doing graduate supervision, or how they can get out of teaching the big first year course every year, or where does the 40-40-20 ratio come from, I point them to the Workload Standard for their unit. A list of these can be found here. Ideas about how to develop or update your Workload Standard can be found here

Whether I can help you in resolving your work assignment questions will depend on how good your Workload Standard is. Is it specific enough to allow you to assert that graduate supervision should be given teaching credit? Does it anticipate a texture to the types of courses offered in the department? Does it specify a ratio (because the University does not, only these Workload Standards do) that can be linked to and help assess the actual work done? And so on. This was explained in a Know Your CA from 2011.

At some point, when you have a few idle moments (!), you should take some time to review your own Standard against others’ to see if your own can be improved. Some are quite detailed – including changing ratios over a Member’s early years, or how to determine openly whether a Member has a debit or credit workload to carry forward, or including a clause to review the Workload Standard every few years – and others are so aspirational or vague that they provide nothing to rely on when addressing complaints.

Ramneek Pooni can be reached at

This Grievance Corner was taken from the March, 2014 edition of QUFA Voices.