A new working time agreement for academic staff is to make it easier for staff to plan their working hours over a year so that they are more structured than previously. Professional development will also be reinforced and better planned. The guidelines on attendance at the workplace will also be clarified.
Former Pro Vice-Chancellor Ingalill Rahm Hallberg, who has represented the University in negotiations with the unions, emphasised that from now on the meaning of annual working hours will be much clearer. “The intention is to stop the extensive use of overtime, which has led to faculties and departments suffering deficits in salary budgets. This is very expensive for LU”, she says. From now on, all overtime must be approved and ordered by a head of department; it will not be possible to work overtime on one’s own initiative and then claim for it afterwards. The annual working hours are to be followed; employees cannot work a lot one year and then compensate for it by working less the following year. This also means that academic staff’s working hours must be planned better and that the employer must plan the teaching in good time so that the teaching staff know what their workload will be for the coming year. “It is beneficial that the employer structures staff working hours in a clear manner. This includes a documented professional development plan for each member of academic staff”, says Anneli Carlsson, who negotiated on behalf of Saco-S. An individual plan shall be drawn up in agreement between the employer and the employee and it shall also be followed up. The aim is to reach a constructive agreement on professional development that helps to move the University’s operations forward and to develop the skills of the employee. The question is, of course, what happens if the number of staff is not sufficient to fulfil the needs of teaching. Ingalill Rahm Hallberg points out that it is cheaper to employ more staff than to pay expensive overtime, but the question of creating more posts lies with the faculties and departments. Above all, she thinks that health is an important aspect. Working too much can be harmful and there are also national regulations that limit how much overtime is permitted.Anneli Carlsson thinks the overtime problem is primarily due to a shortage of teaching staff, especially in certain subjects. “This can obviously lead to work environment problems”, she says. More academic staff are needed, and as well as the financial aspects it can be difficult to find people with the right expertise. “The problems are down to the organisation having too few staff”, she asserts, emphasising that it is the responsibility of the employer to adapt the teaching offered to the teaching capacity available. One moot point between the unions and the employer has been the factors used to convert teaching hours into real hours. The teaching hours are calculated according to a standard model depending on factors including the amount of preparation work and subsequent work required. “We would have liked to avoid this, but we have not managed to negotiate it”, says Ingalill Rahm Hallberg. However, Anneli Carlsson thinks the factors are good; otherwise the heads of department would have had to negotiate with each individual member of staff. “This can easily lead to unfairness. Some members of academic staff may feel unfairly treated, while others manage to get a good deal. This leads to problems in the workplace. These processes are also time-consuming”, she says. Another new point is that the employer has pushed through stricter wording on attendance at the workplace. “We want to clarify when staff should be available at the workplace in addition to the time they spend teaching. We are working in an increasingly process-oriented manner and in teams with others and this means that staff have to be available to colleagues and students”, says Ingalill Rahm Hallberg. Anneli Carlsson is not as sure that the rules need to be tightened by means of an agreement; it is basically a pure management issue. “I am certain that the academic staff are responsible individuals and the job entails freedom with responsibility. Being on site from nine to five is no guarantee of efficient work”, she says. Anneli Carlsson stresses that academic staff should naturally be available to colleagues and students and play an active part at their workplace. Nonetheless, she thinks it is important to be flexible, because it is a creative job. Moreover, she believes that this is an important factor for future recruitment of academic staff and a key issue if the University is to be an attractive workplace. Both Anneli Carlsson and Ingalill Rahm Hallberg think that there has been a good tone to the negotiations and that the parties are agreed on most aspects. A sign of this is that the employer and staff organisations are holding joint seminars for employees to explain what the new agreement entails and to gain support for it in the organisation. Jonas Andersson Footnote: There are two different agreements, one with Saco-S and one with OFR/S and SEKO. However, the content of the agreements is the same. Since it is a collective agreement, it applies to all academic staff. The agreement enters into force on 1 July.