Dear member working at a university!
The different stages of the coronavirus pandemic have had impacts on the work of university employees. For example, the use of various remote work systems has increased. These changes have created a need for all personnel groups to learn new things. In addition, the safeguarding of organisational functionality as part of the management of this prolonged crisis may have necessitated measures that have affected the well-being and coping of personnel. The workload of academic managers and supervisors has increased, and concern for the coping of personnel has brought additional stress.
The Negotiation Organisation for Public Sector Professionals JUKO and the Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers wish to remind their members of a few key issues related to working hours and remote work during the pandemic.
Work in the university sector has been affected by, for example:
- additional work caused by the extraordinary arrangements (e.g., additional work from remote teaching, addressing issues remotely)
- additional support for learning and student welfare (e.g., need for guidance)
- unavoidable and urgent tasks caused by the pandemic, for example, a lack of breaks during the workday as a result of increased tasks and the associated stress
- breaks in student relationships caused by the pandemic, which increase the need for support
- the requirement to maintain an increased level of hygiene due to the pandemic (for example, in laboratories)
- new protective and precautionary measures in various functions and their supervision (use and supervision of use of protective masks)
- additional work caused by organising student selections and tasks related to the supervision of entrance exams
Working conditions in remote work
The longer remote work continues, the more significant the working conditions become. Work ergonomics at home are often challenging. The right kind of equipment, such as proper office chairs, electric desks and the size and quality of the computer screen, help with coping at work. The occupational safety and ergonomics of remote work conditions should be discussed by the employer and employee in all work units. Funding unused due to the pandemic (for example, travel cost reimbursements) should be directed to, for example, solutions that maintain and improve work ergonomics. It is primarily the employer’s duty to provide the tools even when the work is done remotely at home. If you have purchased, for example, an electric desk yourself, you should read the tax administration’s guidelines.
The importance of work planning is emphasised in these exceptional times
The work plan agreed upon in the collective agreement serves as a safeguard for the research and teaching staff and an important tool for monitoring the amount of work on both the individual and unit level. It helps everyone make their work visible.
We want to remind everyone that a work plan can be changed and updated to reflect the actual work amount, even during the academic term. The collective agreement states that an employee and their supervisor may review the implementation of the work plan and modify it if required by new duties. The agreement also contains provisions on, for example, compensation for teaching outside of the work plan. This has been used rarely during the pandemic. We encourage the suggestion of compensation for extra work if work duties exceed the obligations of the work plan.
It will soon be time to draw up work plans for the next academic year. It is worth it to focus on work planning and ensure that work is properly dimensioned.
Working hours and remote work in university administration, specialist and support tasks
Remote work shall take into account actual working hours. We would like to remind everyone that remote work is no different from office work as far as working hours are concerned, which is why all hours used for work shall be entered in the working hours system. You should not do unrecorded work, but agree with your supervisor beforehand on the remote work procedure if the normal working hours are not enough.
Support from shop stewards
We encourage you to contact your shop steward or local association if you have any questions, no matter how small, about working hours or the coordination of working hours and work.
With your best interests in mind
JUKO Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers
Katja Aho Johanna Moisio
Negotiation Manager Executive Director