The use of Outlook calendars is not contractual. The manner in which you are being asked to use them breaches your professional contract. You are strongly advised NOT to cooperate in the use of these calendars.


UCU has learned that it is management’s plan to roll out the routine use of Outlook calendars across the university to “identify activities and availability, and allow everyone in the Division to have access, mainly to facilitate the arranging of meetings.” The rationale for this is that “many sections of the university (including Professional services Groups, the Executive, one of the Schools, several Divisions) are using Outlook to manage diaries, arrange meetings, and facilitate contacting colleagues.”

 

The job of an academic is in no way comparable to the office bound jobs of Professional Services Groups, School Managers or the Executive. These job categories involve regular meetings as part of their core function. The routine use of Outlook calendars to facilitate meetings for these groups of people therefore makes good sense.

 

The academic contract is a professional contract that sets out the various academic duties and activities that occupy our working week. These include Scheduled Teaching Activity (STA), Direct Teaching Related Activity (DTRA), Academic Management and Planning (AMP) and Staff and Institutional Development Activities (SIDA ). Scheduled Teaching Activity is centrally timetabled and available to public scrutiny within the LSBU environment. Staff must meet their STA commitments at specific times and locations. However, a professional contract cannot be closely monitored, especially DTRA which relies on the professional commitment of staff in researching and preparing classes and in marking and feeding back student work. There is no requirement for planned DTRA to be carried out in specific locations or at specific times.

 

In addition, many staff have AMP activities such as course directors, year/ cohort leaders, module leaders and other SIDA tasks as may be agreed (eg. Academic Misconduct Officer or Exams Officer).

 

The only School that uses Outlook calendars is the School of Health and Social Care. Their use was the subject of protracted negotiation with UCU. The rationale for their use was “the lack of a central timetable available in other faculties.” A protocol providing clear guidance was agreed stipulating that, only the recording of STA is required because of the lack of a centralised timetable, and only the granting of ‘read only’ privileges to one’s line manager is required.

 

With centralised timetabling in place across the university, the routine use of Outlook calendars therefore does not make sense and would not be of any use in the facilitation and arrangement of meetings. On the contrary the way in which staff are being advised to use Outlook calendars and make them available to their School colleagues and management suggests an intention to use these calendars as an instrument of surveillance and control of our academic activity.

 

The sort of advice being rolled out for the routine use of Outlook calendars entails a fundamental change in the way we as academics work at LSBU and has major contractual implications. The idea should have been raised at the JNCC and discussed properly instead of being announced to staff as if it is a small matter of detail. With negotiations over the contract under way, this is just another example of an attempt to undermine the professional contract through management by diktat. Is it any wonder that staff feel so disengaged from the life of the university? Trying to impose Outlook calendars in order to monitor staff is yet a further dent to staff morale. And yet we are meant to believe that management are serious in addressing the disastrous results of the Staff Engagement Survey!


The use of Outlook calendars is not contractual. The manner in which you are being asked to use them breaches your professional contract. You are strongly advised NOT to cooperate in the use of these calendars.