By now, you’re likely aware of McMaster’s decision to cancel classes. Specifically, McMaster has determined that all in-person classes for undergraduate and graduate students will end at the end of day Friday March 13th and that no in-person exams will be held at the end of this term. We applaud McMaster for the decision to put the safety of students and staff at the forefront.
We are sending this email to you in your capacity as an employee. Decisions around your responsibilities as a student will come from your department chair or graduate chair. We encourage you to reach out to the instructor of the course to which you are assigned to determine next steps and expectations for your role in the remainder of the semester. We do not foresee any loss of pay as all work should be restructured in a way that it can easily be made up. If it is restructured in a way that you feel it cannot be made up, please let us know.
Normally, any changes to your existing responsibilities must be accompanied by a revised Hours of Work form from your supervisor to be signed by you. Work cannot be unilaterally changed by your supervisor. Given that these are exceptional circumstances, the Union recognizes that completing these protocols may not be feasible. In lieu of official changes to your hours of work forms, we want to encourage members to request clear instructions (written is preferred) from their employment supervisors regarding any changes to their duties and to log their hours from now until the end of their current TA assignment. If you feel additional hours are required, please inform your supervisor. New duties should not deviate far from duties normally expected to be done by a TA. Under no circumstance should you be expected to perform any additional work over what you were originally allocated without proper compensation. Finally, you must be paid for any tasks that you are no longer expected to do. The cancellation of classes should not lead to any loss of income.
Article 19.02 of your Collective Agreement provides you with sick leave equivalent to 10 working hours per term. Please use these at your discretion and be sure to inform your supervisor if you require the usage of these days.
Article 19.01 of your Collective Agreement provides that, with the approval of the employment supervisor(s) concerned, you are able to arrange to exchange your work with or by a qualified person, for periods not to exceed 1 week, 10 days at a time, and not to exceed 3 weeks per term. If the employee cannot find a suitable replacement, the employment supervisor, upon request, will assist in finding a suitable replacement. If such an arrangement would be useful, please reach out to your supervisor.
Article 19.02.1 provides you with access to paid family medical leave in the event that this is needed. Please contact your Union if such a situation arises.
Please note that each course – and perhaps even each section of a course – is likely to be different. We recognize that a one-size-fits-all solution is not possible in such a situation.
If you have any other questions, please let us know. Please note, however, that we have a large volume of emails and a response may be delayed. We will prioritize emergent situations. We would like to recognize that McMaster Human Resources has been in regular contact with your Union. We appreciate the transparency and information that they’ve provided to us.
Finally, please make use of the Employee Family Assistance Program if you are experiencing additional stress, anxiety, or any issues related to your mental health. A flyer outlining the program can be found here. You can access the program directly by visiting https://homeweb.ca/.