On 13 March, 2020, President David Farrar suspended all in-person classes at McMaster University. The COVID-19 website was launched to update the university community during the pandemic. Sessional instructors teaching in the winter term scrambled to teaching online and wrap up the term.

On 24 March, it was announced that the spring and summer terms would be online. Sessional Instructors who had previously signed contracts were given the choice to either teach online or accept a cancellation payment of $1000 in exchange for cancelling their contracts. The day after that, Farrar announced the fall term at McMaster would also be online.

So, now what? Guidelines for working at McMaster in the 2020-2021 academic year.

  • Paid Training If you need to perform duties not specified in your original Letter of Appointment, and you undertake training in order to perform those duties, the employer will pay for your training at the post contract work rate. The current sessional instructor rate is $66.70 per hour. If such training is required and advertised in the job posting/letter of offer, it is not compensated at the additional rate.  Please make a request for training with your supervisorif you are not familiar with the technologies you are being asked to use. 
  • Teaching Technology Article 13.01 of the contract states that the employer will make an effort to provide access to the use of facilities, services and equipment related to your teaching duties. This includes reasonable access to technologies required for online teaching. If you require equipment/tech tools to carry out your online teaching please identify your needs to your supervisor (Department or Area Chair) as soon as possible. Speaking to your supervisor is the correct and appropriate process for making such requests. In accordance with Information for Remote Work Office Set-up, the university is committed to reimbursing some home office expenses. For more information regarding eligible expenses, please visit the CRA’sOther Employment Expenses as well as Work-Space-In-The-Home Expenses. For questions related to expenses reimbursement, contact Terri Wetton at wetton@mcmaster.ca
  • Campus or Home? Working from home continues to be the preferred option for McMaster employees for the fall term at least. If recording lectures from home is not possible, instructors will have access to their offices or some shared spaces for preparing and recording online lectures and course materials. Access will be governed in phases, as set our by the university’s COVID-19 policy. To access campus space for the recording of lectures, please complete the following form each time you will be accessing your office for recording purposes: Access to campus offices for recording course materials. In Phase 2 Faculty and instructors will have access to twenty Echo 360-enabled classrooms. Theses spaces will need to be booked in advance using a separate online booking form which is being developed. Phase 3 will include access to teaching lab spaces and on-campus recording spaces that have additional teaching tools and applications. Timing of Phase 3 access will be determined following a successful implementation of phases one and two and in accordance with public health guidelines.
  • Get a T2200 for the purposes of claiming home office and travel expenses, when filing your tax return. Contact the administrator in your home department to ask how to request a T2200 from the university.
  • Sick Leave Article 18.01 of your Collective Agreement provides you with unplanned leave, which may be necessary depending upon your personal and familial circumstance. The agreement notes that “In the event that an employee requires an unplanned leave it is the responsibility of the employee to both advise their Supervisor and to make up for any missed class and lost time that was missed. When making up the class(es) is a practical impossibility, an alternate arrangement, approved by the Supervisor, will be made.”
  • Mental Health 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/.
  • Face Masks on Campus The University will require non-medical masks or face coverings be worn in all indoor public spaces at all McMaster locations as of Tuesday, July 14. Also see the employer’s guidelines for workplace health and safety during COVID-19. The University will provide access to non-medical masks and face coverings to support staff, faculty and students in adhering to the requirement.  More information on how and where to access these masks will be provided in the coming days.

For additional information and resources related to employment during the pandemic, check the CUPE 3906 COVID-19 Resources and Information page for all CUPE 3906 members. You can also reach out to Sylvia, our Unit 2 Chief Steward, at chiefsteward_sessionals@cupe3906.org.