Disconnecting from Work
February 2, 2024
Our Know Your Rights segments highlight different aspects that impact your employment at Carleton University, including highlights from the Collective Agreement in small, easy to understand bits. You can read previous Know Your Rights segments on our website.
CUASA has been hearing from some members with concerns that they feel pressured by their superiors, departmental administrators, or students to respond to emails outside of working hours. We wanted to take a moment to remind members of their rights when it comes to disconnecting from work.
Per Articles 13.2(g) and 13.4(a)(viii) of CUASA’s collective agreement, there is no expectation for faculty or instructors to respond to emails or phone calls from students between the hours of 5:00pm and 8:30am or on weekends.
While the collective agreement is only specific to contact from students, the University has adopted a Disconnecting From Work Policy in 2022, at the request of the Government of Ontario, “to ensure that, other than in ‘exceptional circumstances’ and their ‘regular work day’ … employees can ‘disconnect from work’”.
Under the policy, “’disconnecting from work’ means not engaging in work-related communications, including emails, telephone calls, video calls or the sending or reviewing of other work- related messages so as to be free from the performance of work outside of working hours”.
We previously brought our members’ concerns to the University at the Joint Committee for the Administration of the Agreement (JCAA), where the administration told CUASA that, while they cannot prevent someone from emailing our members outside of business hours, supervisors (i.e. Chairs/Directors/Deans) are supposed to be mindful of employees’ working hours.
To be clear, outside of exceptional circumstances, there is no expectation for CUASA members to have to respond to emails outside of working hours. Any members who feel like they are being pressured to do so should report such concerns to their Chair/Director or Dean. Please also loop us in by contacting [email protected].
Finally, we recognize that some members may have concerns that their student experience questionnaire (SEQ) scores may be impacted if they do not respond to students at all hours. We suggest that members should consider informing their students of the university policy about their availability, the importance of work-life balance, and explain that you are not available outside of regular working hours. We also suggest that you document any instance of undue pressure for future reference, and consider reaching out to CUASA’s Grievance Representatives at [email protected] for confidential advice in case of difficulty. Finally, our Collective Bargaining Committee is also aware of these concerns, and will consider them as it looks at means of addressing the use of SEQ scores in career decisions when bargaining begins later in the spring.