Issues To Consider For Workload Standards

Here are some issues you may wish to consider when developing and updating your own unit’s workload standard. This is a starting point only, not a comprehensive list, but it does include ideas from workload standards around the world.


  • Changing labour market
  • Changing demographics
  • More female participation in workforce
  • Need for disability accommodation
  • Increase in life expectancy of parents of working individuals
  • Increase in number of working single parents
  • Increase in number of dual earners in household
  • Mounting workloads
  • Increased hours of work
  • Downsizing
  • Demise of adequate collective bargaining
  • Contractual hours versus actual hours worked
  • Workload allocation – fair and equitable?
  • Workload allocation – who is doing the equity work? visible minorities? women?
  • Workload regulation
  • Taking work home
  • Taking breaks
  • Stress
  • Ill-health
  • Errors and workplace safety

Relationship and communication between employer/supervisor/manager and employee

  • Leadership
  • Mentoring
  • Regulated workload
  • Equitably allocated workload
  • Participation in workload allocation
  • More staff
  • Greater openness
  • Control over job content
  • Risk to employer: resources versus decreased motivation, increase in ill-health and errors


Traditional university work environment based on: flexible contractual framework, professional autonomy, academic freedom

University environment changing: increase in student numbers, downsizing (“efficiency gains”), increase in pressure for external accountability.

Academic work environment changing: increase in work intensity as well as amount of work, research being pushed to weekends and evening, longer working hours assigned.


  • to maintain and enhance quality of work
  • to preserve flexibility of contractual framework
  • to preserve professional values of academic staff
  • to prevent unfair and unreasonable work requirements
  • to preserve opportunities for professional development
  • to provide work/life balance


  • reasonable workload
  • fair distribution of work
  • socially acceptable working hours
  • sufficient and supported leave time
  • reasonable scheduling of duties and meetings
  • ability to challenge, without prejudice, unfair distribution of work
  • openness of workload management procedures
  • regular monitoring of departmental workloads.
  • Workload standard that is a meaningful guide (rather than an absolute measure)
  • Balance between performance review and reasonableness of workload

Factors determining workloads:

  • research
  • professional and community services
  • post-graduate supervision
  • Leave alleviation
  • delivery of subject at differing levels (undergraduate, graduate, doctoral)
  • delivery of subjects by differing modes (studio, seminar, lab, lecture)
  • degree of difficulty in preparation and/or delivery
  • size of classes
  • amount of student consultation required
  • marking load
  • TA availability and assignment
  • coordination with other staff involved
  • amount of support/additional workload involved
  • number of part-time students
  • newness of course or new to individual faculty member
  • number of different subjects to be taught
  • spread of teaching across time-frames
  • non-traditional modes of delivery
  • coordination of course or subject area
  • administrative (committee) responsibilities in department and university
  • opportunities to develop teaching expertise and other work skills
  • development of new curriculum
  • involvement in course, program or subject reviews
  • the relevance of merit and how it affects working conditions
  • number and level of administrative support staff
  • level and experience of faculty
  • reduced loads for new faculty
  • the (in)effectiveness of teaching evaluations and their manner of use
  • cross campus teaching

We hope this is helpful. Please contact QUFA if you have any comments or concerns.

Subcommittee on Workload
(Political Action and Communication Committee)