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Excessive Workload

Across campus, many people are being asked to work more than 100% of an academic job.  This is increasing as the university is losing staff, yet the amount of work, particularly bureaucracy, is steadily increasing.  Some staff appear willing to do this while others feel they have no choice. You do have a choice.  Our employment contracts are an agreement between equals and it is equally unreasonable for the university to ask you to work more than 100% as for you to expect the university to pay more than your salary.

If you think the university is asking too much of you, then this is the advice from the UCU local branch:

  1. Attend a workload meeting with your line manager and try to solve it ‘informally’ i.e. by conversation.  Be polite as your line manager will have constraints not of their choosing.
  2. After a workload has been allocated, and if the previous step has not resolved the issue,  then send an email  to your line manager, the Faculty Academic Manager (FAM) and your UCU Dept Rep (or an UCU Committee member), specifying the workload, that you believe you have been allocated a workload of over 100% and ask for the reasons.   Keep the email short, polite and just stick to these points.   You may wish to refer to the text below taken from the current workload policy:

The Academic Working Year. All workloads must be standardised against the University’s standard of one full-time equivalent (1 FTE) member of staff at 100% workload; this must equal 1613 hours per academic session based on a 52 week academic calendar. This standard is based on workload evenly spread across 221 days at 7.3 hours per day or 36.5 hours per week (pro rata). Of the 260weekdays per academic year-there are 221 working days available after 25 days of annual leave, and 6 additional days [over Christmas (3 days) and Easter (3 days)] and 8 Public Bank Holidays have been subtracted. The common currency for the AcademicWorkload Planner is hours.

  1. Wait for the reply. Members should not agree to any unaccompanied meetings if they choose to do this.  They should politely say that they are waiting further advice from UCU based on line manager’s (or FAM) response.
  2. If the answer is not acceptable to you (or there is no answer), then involve the UCU through your Dept. Rep. or by contacting the UCU local branch directly by emailing  A caseworker will be assigned who may write to the FAM directly.  Keep everything in writing.
  3. If the UCU finds workload to be a problem in a particular area, then the union can seek to address the problem through faculty or at university level.  The evidence collected by members will be invaluable in this.
  4. UCU can also provide support and advice regarding the policies and regulations, to UCU members that have responsibility for managing workloads.