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Distribution of Workload and Sabbatical Leave

CAUT Policy Statement

The pursuit and dissemination of knowledge at the highest intellectual level can only be sustained by promoting and protecting the working conditions for academic staff.  Scholarship, the work of an academic, involves both the pursuit and the dissemination of knowledge through research, teaching, public lectures, conference communications, publications, the building of library collections, the provision of critically mediated access to information, artistic production and other similar activities.  In addition to scholarly activities the workload of an academic staff member includes service to the academic and broader community. In the assignment of workload duties care must be taken to ensure that each academic staff member has adequate opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of their career.

Some scholarly tasks, such as the development of new courses, services or other resources require periods of uninterrupted time.  Research investigations and the preparation of research results in particular often require extended periods of concentrated effort.  Accommodating these workload needs requires that the various components of workload be distributed appropriately.  Academic staff associations should negotiate criteria governing the distribution of workload duties in their collective agreements.  The following principles inform such criteria.

Academic tasks should be distributed in a fair, reasonable and equitable manner. Particular care must be taken to ensure that the total effort expected of each academic staff member is similar to others within the academic unit.  The variables which affect total effort include, but are not limited to, the following:

a) the career stage of the member;
b) the member’s area of expertise;
c) the nature and requirements of the member’s ongoing research efforts;
d) the nature and requirements of the member’s service or administrative efforts;
e) whether the member will be responsible for supervising laboratory or similar workload activities  outside of scheduled hours;
f) the expected number of students in courses assigned to the member;
g) the level, type and method of delivery of courses assigned;
h) the number, methods and complexity of assessments of student work;
i)  the number of new and distinct preparations required;
j)  the size and degree of complexity of unit-wide duties or projects for which the member has specially assigned responsibilities;
k)  the location of teaching, research or service tasks assigned; and
l)  the availability of teaching and research assistants and other resources.

At least one day each week should be free of scheduled teaching or other duties to allow for various non-scheduled duties such as research, course preparation and service activities.

In each academic year, academic staff members should have a block of time available for research, professional development and non-scheduled teaching.  For faculty members, this means that one academic term should be free of scheduled teaching duties.  For other academic staff, an equivalent amount of uninterrupted time should be available for research and professional development.

Contract Academic Staff have a right and an obligation to the academy and their students to maintain and develop their scholarly interests and activities.  The principles set out in this policy statement on fair and equitable distribution of work and on the institutional support for and availability of time to pursue scholarly activities apply on a pro rata basis to contract academic staff.

Academic staff must be provided with periodic sabbatical leaves to pursue research, scholarly activities, teaching or professional projects.  Sabbatical leaves should total 12 months in every seven academic years, at full nominal salary. Paid sabbatical leaves should be available to Contract Academic Staff on a pro rata basis.

Approved by the CAUT Council, May 2015;
Editorial revisions, November 2019;
Editorial revisions, April 2024.