The University should do more to enable positive staff mental health

Passed: November 2019 (19th)

What do you want? / Why do you want it?

We all know about the crisis in student mental health. University academic and operational staff are also experiencing conditions that are worsening their own mental health and wellbeing, with many reporting feeling overworked, resulting in high levels of stress and an inability to efficiently manage their workloads and provide the best educational experience for their students. They simply do not have the capacity to dedicate time and energy to student support initiatives or to implement any of the best practice recommendations in their everyday practices where they need to be implemented - in every School, at the student-facing level. This links into the problem of personal tutors being seemingly unable to provide adequate pastoral support.

To create a mentally healthy student population, we must promote a mentally healthy staff body. HR are working on a guide for managers and staff on signposting for support, but this is a reactionary measure, not a preventative one. Mental health and wellbeing of staff should be an active HR priority and a review is needed on staff resourcing, expectations, and workload, tied into a closer examination of the role of pastoral student support for academic staff with the view to develop the role of student support officers.

Expires: November 2022 (19th)

Submitted By: Amy Wells

Officer: Welfare

Area of Work: Mental Health


June 2020: Unfortunately there are no major updates to this work over the summer as a result of lots of LUU staff being furloughed (ongoing), as well as the LUU building and campus being closed. As staff return to work and the new Officer team settle into their roles this will be picked up again.

January 2020: Update from Amy, Welfare Officer and the UCU President. Leeds UCU has drafted a set of workload principles, some of which are still a bit under debate, but are relatively straightforward in their approach. We know that some managers in schools are really struggling with workload planning, in that there is too much work to allocate to fit into reasonable time of the staff they have. Workload Principles – minimum standards

  1. Academic and academic-related staff are professionals and must have scope to manage their own time.

  2. Workload is a health and safety issue.

  3. Transparency is essential – this means we should be able to see colleagues’ allocation. Assumptions and criteria for calculation should also be transparent.

  4. Staff should not have to work excess hours for normal progression and promotion.

  5. All members of academic and academic-related staff should be entitled to protected time for scholarship of at least 0.2 or one day over the week.

  6. Research active staff should have a minimum of 2 days per week for research.

  7. Administrative roles must have a realistic allocation of hours.

  8. Teaching should be allocated on the basis of a multiplier of contact hours. This multiplier would vary, depending on whether other factors are counted as part of the contact hours formula or are counted on top. Examples of factors that might be counted separately are level of support, marking, class size, probationary status, new teaching module co-ordination and repeat teaching.

  9. A model and any subsequent significant changes would be subject to negotiation with UCU. There needs to be a process for (a) agreeing changes to hours given to admin roles and (b) reviewing the model every few years to ensure that it still works.

  10. No weight should be given to outputs or esteem.

  11. It is accepted that there may be fluctuations. Significant excess load in one year should be rectified by a reduction in the following year.

  12. Where a staff member is a union representative, an allowance will be made in the workload model for trade union duties.

  13. Where a staff member is a health and safety representatives, an allowance will be made in the workload model for health and safety duties.

  14. Citizenship should be 0.2 FTE.

  15. Workload analysis and allocation requires a participatory and dialogical approach. They need to be based on the real life situation and not theoretical assumptions, e.g. about availability of staff and functioning of technology including websites.

December 2019: Amy, Welfare Officer, linked up with Head of Advice.

November 2019: New Policy