Our “People You Should Know” blog series interviews key people and offices at the University of Waterloo so you can make the most of their services.
Linda Brogden is a University of Waterloo Occupational Health Nurse. Among other things, Occupational Health helps employees manage the impact of illness on their work. We interviewed Linda to make sure faculty know about the important support available at Occupational Health.
What services does Occupational Health provide to faculty?
Occupational Health (OH) helps faculty—and all employees—with sick leave and medical accommodations.
Any absence of five or more continuous days requires medical documentation. OH can receive that documentation so that a faculty member’s department doesn’t need to see it directly. We also help faculty set up accommodations, which are adjustments to job duties because of a medical condition (e.g., tenure extensions, reduced loads). And sometimes sick leave cases are referred to an external provider, such as absences longer than four weeks without a definite return to work date, or when the University requires external expertise to assess a case. Occupational Health can help navigate all of these processes, and act as a confidential liaison between an employee and their department if needed. (See page 6 of the Disability Management Guide (PDF) for more information.)
What is the most important thing you want faculty to know about visiting Occupational Health?
The importance of seeking help early on in any illness. Having a chat with an OH nurse about your particular situation may help provide solutions for early intervention. We provide support to all employees with any health-related needs that may be affecting their ability to safely and successfully perform their jobs. All information provided to us, whether in writing or verbally, is maintained in strict confidence.
We’ve got a lot more going on, but here are six items we discussed at the January 15 Board of Directors meeting.
1. Explaining the salary changes for lecturers
Our first meeting of 2019 kicked off with an update from Benoit Charbonneau regarding the report of the Working Group on Salary Structure. As announced in December, the working group recommended changes to the salary thresholds for lecturers. We’re working on a public report explaining the changes and how they affect you.
2. An important reminder: Mental health training counts as professional development
In light of the PAC-SMH Report and Recommendations on mental health and wellness, we want reiterate that mental health training for faculty counts as professional development and can be reported on annual performance reviews in the same way as other professional development activities.
FAUW recognizes the key role that faculty play in student wellness. Instructors themselves often recognize students in distress or are alerted by concerned teaching assistants. Whether communicating with troubled students directly or making referral decisions, faculty are better prepared if they have a) context-appropriate training in mental health and b) clear communication pathways to follow when they have concerns about students.
Returning from the Victoria Day long weekend, a rowdy and energized board assembled to review many in-progress issues. We began with the implementation of the President’s Advisory Committee on Student Mental Health (PAC-SMH) report, specifically how FAUW can support the recommendations on training for faculty. The Board expressed support for these recommendations, and suggests that faculty voluntarily engage in additional mental health training as provided on campus. We’ll have more on this in another post soon.
The second issue brought to us directly from members is the lack of secure bicycle parking on campus. The Board wants to support improved bike parking and hopes to see Parking Services commit more resources to this in the future. Discussions will continue on this topic.
Next, everyone’s favourite topic—the Fall Break pilot—made a reappearance, specifically preferred semester start dates after Labour day, and how changes would affect faculty who teach in the spring term and sessional or contract faculty who are only paid as of the first day of class. On a related note: We recently sent a reminder to our members that the Registrar’s Office will schedule exams earlier in the spring block for faculty who teach in both the spring and fall terms, in order to provide adequate time between terms. The response was positive (mostly), and we hope that those of you teaching in both of these terms take advantage of this scheduling flexibility in the future.
We have been hearing from members whose professional expense (FPER) claims have been rejected despite meeting the April 30 submission deadline. From FAUW’s perspective, these claims should be reimbursed to our members as soon as possible. This position has been brought to the administration and more information is coming!
Members in Applied Health Sciences will be happy to hear that they now have a representative on the Board for the 2018–19 year. While the position was vacant following our elections in March, Clark Dickerson from Kinesiology has since stepped up to the plate and was appointed by the Board for a one-year term (as per the FAUW constitution).
—Peter Johnson, director for the Faculty of Environment
As we approach the end of the winter term, the FAUW Board of Directors met to discuss a variety of important issues. We discussed the agenda and process for the upcoming Spring General Meeting (April 5th) and reviewed our draft budget for the coming year, which will be presented to the membership at the General Meeting.
Many Board members attended and/or participated in the President’s Luncheon on Academic Freedom. As a result, we discussed this event and its outcomes in depth (see our blog post on the event for more details). Going forward, FAUW respects the efforts made to host this event and the issues and discussion that it raised, but ultimately there is still much work to be done to clarify how Academic Freedom is exercised on campus. Further events and discussions with administration will be very welcome.
The Board had a lengthy discussion about the issues raised at the President’s Advisory Committee on Student Mental Health forum and report. FAUW strongly supports many of the recommendations of this report and is working to provide advice to our members on how to better support student mental health.
We also reviewed several issues raised by individual members. We are always open to addressing specific issues, and receiving direct feedback from the membership, so please get in touch.
Peter Johnson, Faculty of Environment representative to the FAUW board
The FAUW Fall General meeting is always an enjoyable time to get together with colleagues, discuss important issues in an open setting, and, of course, eat pizza and samosas. This year’s fall general meeting was no exception, with a lively crowd present. The meeting was chaired by Kate Lawson, with reports from president Bryan Tolson, treasurer Dan Brown, and the FAUW standing committees, including information on 2018 elections for six faculty representatives on the Board of Directors. Heidi Engelhardt gave a detailed report (PDF) on the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Student Mental Health (PAC-SMH), and is requesting feedback online.
On a lighter note, the winners of the FAUW Office Contest were revealed! Eight winners were selected for categories such as “Most Distracting Office,” “Most Spartan Office,” and “Most School Spirit.” Congrats to all the winners and everyone who submitted photos. I’m already at work on improving my office for a future contest by making my own custom desk (homemade furniture seemed to be a requirement for winning). I’m not sure what category this will qualify me for, but perhaps my plywood sheet balanced on milk crates could win for “Most like still being in grad school”?
Lastly, the floor of the General Meeting was opened for discussion. One main topic was who FAUW currently represents, and what various groups on campus FAUW could or should represent. Comparisons to other associations around the province were made, with some strong points about how research professors and sessional instructors should be represented. This is clearly a significant issue, particularly when considering precarious forms of employment. FAUW’s position on representation for these positions is currently under discussion, and work in this area is progressing.
This is the time of year when we debrief our Council of Representatives meeting (November 14) and set the agenda for the Fall General Meeting (December 6). The former was very useful—thanks to all reps who attended. Interestingly, the exercise Shannon Dea (chairing the meeting) led reps through in terms of who knows what about FAUW and the University has informed our agenda setting for the General meeting. More later when the agenda is circulated.
Heidi Engelhardt reported back about her work on the President’s Advisory Committee on Student Mental Health. She chairs the Academic Panel. This is an important initiative and the discussion allowed for review of the interactions between this panel’s work and other initiatives on campus, and the Policy 33 review in particular.
Bryan Tolson attended a Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) Council meeting in Ottawa this past weekend and some time was taken addressing issues expected to come up there.
Finally, with salary negotiations about to begin, our team (Benoit Charbonneau, Shelley Hulan and Dave Vert) is seeking guidance from the FAUW board on its mandate and, of course, it is best we treat these discussions as confidential. The team for the administration is, as with the last round, three deans but a completely new slate: James Rush (AHS), Pearl Sullivan (Engineering), and Steven Watt (Mathematics). Negotiations begin on December 1 and will run through the early months of next year. More on this in due course.