Does policy drafting at UW still work? Policy 14 could tell us.

—Kate Lawson, English Language and Literature

The updated draft of Policy 14 – Pregnancy and Parental Leaves (Including Adoption) is the product of UW’s unique collegial process and one that we can all be proud of.

FAUW members often ask how—and even if—their “terms and conditions of employment” can be updated and improved. They look at UW’s comparator institutions in Ontario and notice that colleagues there don’t just get salary increments in their collective agreements; they also get improvements in such areas as workload, benefits, and employment equity. And it is certainly true that faculty members who belong to unionized faculty associations have well-defined pathways to such improvements.

UW is different.  

Policy 1 mandates how UW policies related to our terms and conditions of employment are changed. For Faculty, or “F” class, policies, a Policy Drafting Committee is formed, given terms of reference, members appointed (by the administration, FAUW, and Senate), and it is sent off to do its work. This practice is designed to ensure that all relevant voices are heard and that policies are shaped by a collegial process.

A similar process takes place for updates to Faculty and Staff (“FS”) policies.  

Yet not every policy drafting process yields timely results. Updates to Ethical Behaviour (Policy 33) and Faculty Appointments (Policy 76) are five or six years in the making and, frustratingly, not yet complete. Our experience with these two policies has led some of us to worry that the policy process at UW is broken.

There is hope, however, in “FS” Policy 14 – Pregnancy and Parental Leaves (including Adoption). The revised policy drastically increases flexibility for new parents, eliminates key structural inequities in the current policy, and increases the available benefits. The feedback we’ve received from individual members has been unanimously positive—70 out of 70 responses—and the formal consultation process shows that the revised policy has the enthusiastic support of both faculty and staff.

But it is not over yet. The new policy still needs to be approved by Faculty Relations Committee, Staff Relations Committee, and the Board of Governors.

FAUW wants this policy approved as soon as possible.  

The Secretariat, reacting to the positive feedback to date, indicated to attendees at the consultation session that approval at the April 6, 2021 Board of Governors meeting is reasonable. FAUW also believes this is reasonable.

We hope the administration agrees.  

The updated Policy 14 shows—or could show—that the current policy drafting process outlined in Policy 1 can produce real improvements in the terms and conditions of employment for all employees. The question now is—will it?

Kate Lawson is a member of the FAUW Board of Directors and Executive Committee, and an Associate Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature. She is the former president and former board chair of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA). 

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