News From Your Board: January 4 Meeting Recap

Peter Johnson, director for the Faculty of Environment

The boardroom was full of post-holiday/return-to-campus energy as the FAUW board sat down for the first meeting of 2018. A brief update on negotiations noted that a number of January dates have been set for the bargaining teams to meet.

We discussed the issue of equity among Canada Research Chair appointments across campus, with numerous comments on the Equity Action Plan released in December. If you have feedback, please comment below or email Bryan Tolson.

We also discussed the perpetual question of whether there is an optimal way to schedule final exams that better supports student mental health, and to have final exam schedules prepared earlier in the term. Discussions with the Registrar’s Office is ongoing and we hope to have an update in the spring term.

Additional conversations focused on the extent to which individuals on health leave are able to access on-campus resources and activities, for example faculty members continuing to supervise students while on health leave, or access to the Physical Activities Complex for graduate students on leave. This has been an issue in the past and has become relevant yet again. If you have feedback on this topic, please contact Paul Ward or Brent Matheson.

Did you Know that Central Pays for Pregnancy and Parental Leaves?

–Bryan Tolson, Vice President

The departmental economics surrounding Pregnancy and Parental leaves under Policy 14 are a mystery to most people on campus. Chairs and faculty members planning a leave each deserve to know the economics of a Policy 14 leave as they jointly discuss and plan for one. Until we can get a concise summary of key economic impacts into Policy 14 itself, here is what you need to know:

Central, not your department, covers the salary paid out to you from UW while you are on pregnancy/parental leave.

Let me say that a different way:

The unit paying your salary retains 100% of those funds when you are on pregnancy/parental leave.

Let me make this clear by showing you what happens in my Faculty (Engineering). Let’s pretend you are a female engineering faculty member taking a full year pregnancy/parental leave:

  • The budget transfer to your department for annual operating expenses includes your regular salary and this amount is not impacted by your leave plans.
  • Assuming you earn $100K, and you are eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) in Canada, Policy 14 explains how your total income for the year on leave will work out to be $73.3K (trust me, keep reading—check the number later if you wish)
  • While you are on leave, your income comes from two sources:
    • EI income (paid to you directly from EI) for up to 55% of your salary ($55K)*
    • UW benefits, as defined in Policy 14, top up your income by providing an extra $18.3K. The UW Finance office transfers these top-up funds directly to your home department ($18.3K).
  • Note the cash flows in your department:
    • Department starts the year with funds to pay your salary (+$100K)
    • Department pays top-up funds out to you (-$18.3K)
    • Department receives top-up funds from UW Finance (+$18.3K)
  • The net impact is that your department is left with 100% of your salary ($100K) with which to replace you.

This is fundamental information everyone involved in Policy 14 leave-planning needs to understand: your leave does not hurt your department financially.

For example, consider determining the teaching load adjustment for you, the example female faculty member above, taking a year-long leave. In your case, due to the slight imprecision of birth date planning, your leave happens to span four terms (two terms completely and two partial terms). It would be reasonable (economically) for the Chair to compute your teaching load adjustment as if your official leave length was four full terms. I’ll let you work out just how reasonable this is under other Policy 14 leave lengths or under your unit’s normal teaching load. In the most general case, it will normally be reasonable (economically) for the Chair to round up fractional teaching task reductions they compute due to a Policy 14 leave.

I’ll close with some key questions the above discussion raises:

  • What happens in other Faculties? A bit unclear at the moment. What seems clear is that Central sends top-up funds somewhere. Tell us what you know.
  • What will happen in the new Waterloo Budget Model rolling out this Spring? FAUW is asking that very question. As a matter of equity for all of our faculty members, we believe that pregnancy and parental leaves must continue to be centrally funded. See also the 2012 UW Work-Life Balance report recommending the same thing (recommendations 3.1b and 4.1a).

When the Policy 14 review eventually commences, I will ensure these questions, and many more, will be addressed. In the meantime, FAUW looks forward to hearing about your experiences.

*EI has a maximum payment which may be less than 55% of your salary but the UW benefits (top-up) cover the balance to make sure your total income reaches 95% or 100% (depending on leave length/type – see Policy 14). So for the purposes of this example, it is not important if EI pays for 55% of your salary or something less than that.

An Update on Compassionate and Bereavement Leaves

Sally Gunz, FAUW President

A few weeks ago you received a statement on leave entitlements from the provost and myself. No sooner than it had gone out than I received an email reminding me we had forgotten to discuss compassionate and bereavement leaves. This is entirely correct.

FYI, bereavement leaves are short and are covered by university guidelines.

Compassionate leave is trickier. Ontario’s Employment Standards Act ensures job protection for up to eight weeks of Family Caregiver Leave, eight weeks of Family Medical Leave (in circumstances of imminent death of a family member), and up to 37 weeks of Critically Ill Child Care Leave. As of now they are unpaid, although there may be eligibility for employment insurance benefits. Information is available on the Human Resources Website (see the section on Employment Standards Act (ESA) Leaves).

FAUW raised the issue of lack of a clear policy or guideline for compassionate leaves, and the terms of reference for the new committee reviewing Policy 14, Pregnancy and Parental Leave (Including Adoption) have been extended to allow for the consideration of inclusion of this (and possibly other) leaves. While these may seem unrelated life events, in fact the principles behind the leaves are very similar. Certainly the entitlements should be clarified by policy.

I thank those who brought these issues to my attention.

Note: Additional updates on ongoing issues are provided in today’s President’s Newsletter, available on the FAUW website.

Yes, You Are Entitled and Expected to Take Your Leaves

Sally Gunz, FAUW President

Early this month, a joint statement on leaves was sent out from the Provost and myself. This was a long time in the writing and even still we have omitted reference to compassionate leaves which we will correct in due course. Nonetheless, it is important that everyone understand why we prepared this statement.

We hear from time to time that members are not taking various leaves in part or in full because of concerns about the cost to their departments or individuals within them. We want to stress that the university expects you to take these leaves and that cost should not be your concern.

If a department does indeed experience an undue burden, we have been told over and over again, this should be passed on to senior levels. The key is to understand that the leaves are there to ensure you have a successful and healthy career. You are expected to take them. You enhance your department, your faculty and the university when your career is successful. If you are encountering obstacles, please contact FAUW for advice and assistance.

To Provost or Not to Provost?

David Porreca, FAUW President

Well, as many of you already know, our institution had a heart attack last week. Dr. Sallie Ann Keller resigned from the position of Vice-President Academic and Provost (VPAP) after nine months on the job.

Quite understandably, this topic dominated the discussion at the Faculty Association Board of Directors’ meeting this past Thursday. This sort of development tends to lead to speculation about what might have gone wrong. In this post, however, I would like to highlight some of the significantly positive developments – from the Faculty Association’s perspective – that have occurred under Dr. Keller’s leadership:

  • UW did the right thing in not signing on to Access Copyright’s framework. Instead, we have developed our own set of copyright guidelines that are described in full in the UW Copyright FAQ.
UW Dubai Campus
UW Dubai Campus
  • UW’s satellite campus in Dubai is closing. The opening of this campus was actively opposed by the Faculty Association from the get-go for a variety of good reasons, including the lack of a credible business plan for the project, and the impossibility for all UW policies to apply on that campus (e.g., an openly gay faculty member would be committing a capital offence the moment they set foot off the plane in the United Arab Emirates).

    Although the manner in which the closure has proceeded has generated no small amount of controversy, the facts that a) enrolment never met expectations; b) resources were deployed whose opportunity cost for main campus operations were recognized to be deleterious; and c) concerns over equity for participants in activities at the Dubai campus were never adequately addressed, have all made the Faculty Association cheer its closure. In fact, it has been difficult to resist loud shouts of “We told you so!!”

  • Inequities surrounding benefits for couples who are both UW employees have been resolved.
  • The railroading of a new scheduling system with inadequate communication and inadequate consultation with key stakeholders had been slowed, such that all interested parties can get their concerns integrated into the deployment of the new system over the next year or so.
  • After unconscionable delays and consequent mushrooming of costs, the construction of a consolidated daycare facility for the university community is finally going ahead.
There are other files around which we have seen significant progress:
  • The approaching resolution of issues around the collection and retention of confidential medical information from those applying for Short-Term and/or Long-Term Disability benefits.
  • Implementing regular, systematic checks for faculty salary anomalies and their adequate resolution.
  • The oversight and governance of Senate-approved centres and institutes, so as to avoid in the future the controversy surrounding the governance of the Balsillie School of International Affairs

All of the above being said, we recognize that there are still some issues that are the source of significant concern for our membership that we still need to push forward:

  • Per diems. Reports keep coming in that other institutions (e.g., the University of Toronto and McMaster University) have managed to retain their per diem systems for expense claims despite the apparent imposition of provincial regulations. Investigations are ongoing on the applicability of the systems deployed at those institutions to UW.
  • Senate Long-Range Planning Committee oversight of satellite campuses. We are aiming to set in place regulations that will prevent the occurrence of future debacles such as our Dubai campus. Defining satellite campuses is a key component of this issue.
  • Pensions: Not everyone is happy with the changes to our pension plan that were put forward last year for implementation in 2014. Efforts are ongoing to improve the situation through broader consultation.
  • The Work-Life Balance Report authored by DeVidi, Parry, Collington, Clapp and Brown contains a number of sensible recommendations to improve our working conditions. The exact mechanisms for the implementation of the Report’s recommendations are still under discussion.
  • Concerns over the inadequacy of UW’s provisions for compassionate care and bereavement leave have been raised and distilled into a report for FAUW’s Status of Women and Equity Committee. The implementation of this report’s recommendations is also under discussion.
  • Having biennial evaluations for tenured faculty members is an issue that has been raised many times over the years which we will be looking into more closely.

Well, there you have it: the good, the “in progress” and the “yet-to-do” lists. The length and significance of the first two are a testimony to the good working relationship the Faculty Association had with Dr. Keller. We look forward to having an equally productive relationship with Dr. Geoff McBoyle who will be returning as the interim VPAP, as well as with his eventual permanent successor.