Assignment of Duties: Annual meeting and guidelines

This is the time of year when processes for the assignment of duties are beginning. Provisions for the assignment of duties are covered in Article 11 of the Collective Agreement. The processes in the Agreement are there to ensure that workloads are fair and equitable. 

Department Heads, or Deans in non-departmentalized Colleges, “following consultation and discussion with faculty at a meeting,” assign duties. This annual meeting is an important part of the process. It requires the participation of faculty to ensure transparency and fairness. A discussion of workloads means that you understand your workload in comparison to your colleagues, and how equal is not necessarily equitable. 

Best practice would be to have prospective duty assignments available for the meeting. This information allows faculty in the unit to see their, and their colleagues’, prospective duties for the upcoming year. It allows for true consultation and discussion and provides the transparency necessary to determine fairness and equitability of assignments across the unit. Discussion should include changing expectations as people progress through the ranks, enrolment shifts, and external circumstances such as caregiving responsibilities faced by some faculty. 

Find out when your Department or College is meeting to discuss the assignment of duties and be sure to attend. If there is no meeting on the horizon, request one. If a meeting does not happen, let the USFA know.

In addition, the Agreement is clear that all units shall have guidelines for the assignment of duties, and that all employees in the unit should have a copy of them. Article 11.5 defines a process whereby faculty members in a unit develop guidelines for assignment of duties. A key feature of this process is all members have input into the guidelines and that the guidelines are ratified by secret ballot. The guidelines require approval only by faculty in the unit. This process is in our Collective Agreement because the USFA and the Employer recognized faculty are in the best position to assess what is a fair and equitable distribution of duties within their unit. Department Heads and Deans must take your guidelines into consideration when assigning duties and approving those assignments, and the Employer has confirmed at JCMA that guidelines will be followed.

The guidelines must take into account all the different kinds of work done in your unit, and the requirements necessary to succeed at the collegial processes. The full range of demands associated with teaching must be considered, which includes enrolment and online delivery. It is important to avoid aspirations and express instead expectations. Aspirational statements undermine concrete guidelines for the distribution of work and when the USFA needs to challenge an assignment of duties, we need a document that shows concretely how duties are distributed.

The Collective Agreement provides a comprehensive guide to the Assignment of Duties process, and the Association website has two helpful fact sheets entitled Assignment of Duties and Achieving Equitability. Each is a three-minute read and covers significant territory. Contact the Association if you have any concerns.