Faculty members report increased workload, concerns balancing work with family care commitments in new survey

Faculty members at the University of Western Ontario report they are working overtime to get their courses ready for the fall semester, according to a survey conducted by UWO’s Faculty Association.

UWOFA conducted the survey to understand how faculty members are experiencing their work and working conditions in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. UWOFA recently negotiated three new Letters of Understanding around our return to work. However, negotiations continue on other issues such as fairness for contract faculty and workload.

In the survey, 90% of respondents said their teaching workload per course (including training in online resources, preparation, organization and delivery) has increased relative to pre-pandemic levels. Forty-five per cent of respondents said it has increased by more than half. Of those who reported a significant increase to their teaching workload per course, 88% indicated that acceptable arrangements have not been made for their extra work to be compensated, either in the form of future course release or additional payment.

Respondents also reported concerns about balancing workload and working from home with family care commitments. Members reported feeling pulled in different directions all day to the point of exhaustion and burnout, while others shared that they have to work early in the morning and late at night after their children go to sleep in order to keep up with their academic responsibilities.

Regarding a return to campus, 60% of respondents said they have concerns about returning to campus to access their office, the library, or other campus resources.

It is incumbent upon administrators to meaningfully support all members of the university community, including faculty, as we work diligently to prepare for the fall term during a time of great uncertainty. Please stay tuned in the coming days and weeks for more updates about the progress of negotiations with the employer.