Sunday, September 18, 2011

Timesheets and Faculty

As other posters have highlighted, the time sheet proposal raises a number of questions. What will be the appropriate time threshold? Thirty-five hours per week? forty hours per week? More? What about time off between semesters? Will faculty be expected to report for work at the university? Given that our contracts run for nine months, will we be expected to work 53 hours per week during the semesters to offset our time off during December and January?

It seems like the impetus for this comes from the state auditor, who is attempting to address issues like overtime fraud by creating an audit trail that ensures that employees who are paid for overtime either actually worked the extra time or that the overtime was necessary. However, neither condition applies to faculty who are not paid overtime. Since faculty are not hourly workers expected to work an 8-5 day Monday through Friday, time sheet tracking of faculty work hours will ultimately be ineffective.

Likewise, time sheet tracking to identify which faculty are not meeting either their contractual or professional obligations will also fail. There are faculty who fit the description of "lazy" alluded to in the most recent post: they are not available during their scheduled "office hours," they do not participate in committee work, they do no research and teach poorly, and when called upon to perform administrative work, they do it badly, with the result that they are excused from such onerous tasks and the burden falls upon their colleagues. I would argue that the identities of these faculty are no secret. The fact that our administrators allow them to continue doing what are essentially substandard jobs is also no secret. Time sheets will be of no use for these persons as they will simply falsify their sheets.

Of course, the lack of understanding about faculty work loads is always a consideration. A typical week for a faculty member of Chicago State might look something like this: Classroom teaching--four courses, for twelve hours; class preparation for those four courses, sixteen to twenty-four hours depending on the class level; office hours, four to five hours. This totals thirty-two to forty-one hours and does not include time spent grading papers; time spent in committees; time spent doing administrative tasks like accreditation report preparation; or time spent doing research and/or writing (something that seems to be expected of persons with the Ph.D.).

Perhaps it would be useful for the state to actually convert us to hourly workers. In that case--using the example in the previous paragraph--in a typical week, the average faculty member would be paid between thirty-five and forty hours of straight time, then an additional fifteen to nineteen hours of overtime (based on an estimate of eighteen hours per week doing the ancillary tasks like grading papers, etc.) at time and one-half.

1 comment:

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