Dear Waterloo staff,
I am reaching out to you today to give you an update on the activities of the University of Waterloo Staff Association (UWSA). We have been in regular contact with the University’s senior administration, including weekly meetings of the Pandemic Planning Committee, along with our colleagues from the Faculty Association (FAUW) and CUPE. While we have been sending out regular updates to our members, I wanted to reach out to all staff as the topics we’ve discussed and sent out affect all of you.
We are now ending our fourth week of mostly work from home, with some staff still required to work on campus as needed. In that time, we’ve managed to keep the University operating, providing online courses to students and maintaining most of the support functions of the University. This has been an incredible accomplishment, and one of which we can all be proud. I know the administration is doing all it can to keep us operating and employed, while supporting our core mission of providing world-class education.
We have raised many concerns as the situation has evolved, including initial concerns about working on campus, whether classes would continue, the status of the Spring term, parking fees, vacation, and childcare while working from home. This last issue has become particularly pressing as schools have now restarted, with students expected to continue their education at home. We are discussing how best to address the demands of parenting while continuing to work from home. At this time, we expect that staff will discuss their concerns with their supervisor and trust that reasonable accommodations can be found.
We have heard some feedback regarding the policy on vacation carry-over and have shared that with the administration. If you are concerned that you will not be able to bring your remaining vacation days below 10 due to the demands of your current workload, be sure to fill the form provided in a recent email. We recognize that providing University services while working from home is very challenging and it may not be practical to take time off. Be sure to discuss your schedule with your supervisor and consider taking some days off to get a break from the demands of work-from-home.
We want to remind staff that the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) is available if you need help at any time. We have checked and the service is available and responsive. Be sure to keep yourself healthy by doing things like taking breaks, getting up from your workstation and taking a walk, practising meditation, yoga, or other techniques for relaxing. Check the Employee information and resources page for tips and more information.
While the business of the University continues, so does that of the UWSA. We are helping staff who are struggling with issues in the workplace. We review all pending re-organizations. If you have been part of a recent re-organization and would like to talk to us about how things went, please reach out to us. I invite any staff (UWSA member or not) who have concerns about reorganizations or the present situation or other concerns to contact me at email@example.com.
UWSA members are also invited to speak to any of our directors or staff.
If you would like to see any of our recent messages, please check out our blogs on the UWSA website. In particular, I would like all staff to see the wonderful email of support from our FAUW colleagues from the March 23 blog “Keeping the lights on”. You may also follow us on Twitter or Facebook.
Keep healthy and safe and enjoy a break over this long weekend,