La Trobe University management warns academics they are now “expected to be on campus at all times, unless otherwise arranged.”
“Academic staff are no longer entitled to an ‘automatic’ or ‘deemed’ day per week to work off campus,” a letter from college heads to academic staff states.
The standard text, issued by college heads follows ratification of the university’s new enterprise agreement, just approved by the Fair Work Commission.
The university is taking advantage of removal of clause 25.6, in the previous agreement, which stated “academic employees will be entitled to the equivalent of up to one day in every five working days for carrying out appropriate research work off campus (provided that the staff members make themselves available for required university activities), and if more days are required, they may seek approval from their supervisor.”
CMM understands that this was cut from the new agreement, approved by union negotiators, as superfluous in that it specified what is an agreed practise at many universities, previously including LT U..
However, the university now states each academic must “individually arrange” working off-site with their manager, “It is recommended that such arrangements and agreements to such are recorded in writing, such as a simple email exchange of request and approval,” the letter to staff states.
Cue campus outrage and a warning from the National Tertiary Education Union that this would lead to academics doing their required 35 hours on campus and then asking for over-time for all the other hours they put in. LaTrobe’s HR leadership “have no concept of the nature of academic work,” says union state secretary Colin Long.
La Trobe workplace relations management did not respond to a request for comment last night however the university did issue a statement;
“We have had discussion with the NTEU and acknowledged staff concerns. We will be communicating with academic staff in the coming days to alleviate these concerns. La Trobe supports flexible working arrangements and encourages discussion about these between academics and their supervisors.”