boundaries as a casual lecturer

(9 Posts)
lookingouttosea Sat 19-Oct-19 12:50:35

Ok maybe I'm going to sound lazy or entitled here, I am not, or at least I don't think I am! I'm paid per lecture and when you account for teaching, emails, students queries, lecture prep it isn't very much pay at all. In fact, per hour is so low I feel there have to be boundaries to what I am expected to do in relation to my better-paid, more secure colleagues. Yet I'm asked to attend meetings that I'm effectively not paid for,, to answer emails and calls at weekends and to respond to student queries throughout the week. Students don't know that I have no office, no access to printers or that I correct exams in my own time. I have no incentive to give any more than is necessary (although, of course, I do, because the students expect and deserve it). There's no contract or job description so I have no point of reference as to what is required. At the same time there would be loads of new PhD graduates who would take the job if I didn't want it, so I'm substitutable. I'm just finding it difficult because of the ad hoc nature of everything...and no end in sight. I have toddlers at home so childcare is prohibitive for me to do full time even if it were available. Anyone else in this boat?

OP’s posts: |
Nearlyalmost50 Mon 21-Oct-19 11:08:28

I am surprised you don't have a contract or any points of reference, our teaching assistants/lecturers are moving to contracts, but even before that they had a set amount of hours for lecturing, prep, office hours and so on. I would start by seeking out your terms of employment, and then by talking with your line manager about reasonable expectations (e.g. not attending meetings, I wouldn't expect a temp person to do that if they were on an hourly rate). You could also fight back a bit yourself from being overwhelmed- put on an office auto=-reply explaining that you only work Mon, Tue Thurs afternoons and will reply within then. I don't reply to emails on weekends unless I feel like it and I always let students know I won't be available for two weeks over Christmas and Easter.

Basically your employer is crap. I wouldn't want to teach per lecture for this reason- our teaching staff have prep time added on.

lookingouttosea Tue 22-Oct-19 13:49:34

@nearlyalmost50 thanks for the reply.

OP’s posts: |
Pota2 Tue 22-Oct-19 15:48:26

Sounds awful. I absolutely wouldn’t expect an hourly paid lecturer to attend meetings and have never worked anywhere where this happened. As has been recommended, use an OOO and direct them to the module leader. Your university sounds terrible and exploitative. If you’re in the UCU, arrange to meet with your rep to discuss and they can support you. If you’re not, join the UCU!

mindutopia Thu 24-Oct-19 11:11:07

I think I would make an effort to attend meetings if they are relevant. I used to be a casual ish lecturer (not paid hourly, or by lecture but by term) and I don't think I ever went to a single meeting. It was not on the days that I lectured and I lived 3 hours away with small dc. I just pretty much ignored those emails and no one asked as they knew I wasn't in on those days. Just say you can't because you don't have childcare or whatever. If your department kicks up a fuss, just be realistic and say you cannot unless you are compensated for that time. Some meetings will be requirements for you to do the lecturing you are paid to do, others are just fluff. I'd focus on the important stuff only.

I would not answer student emails in evenings and weekends (unless that is when you normally work because you have childcare then). I am a fulltime academic with a contract and I don't answer student emails on the weekends. I would respond on a weeknight as weeknights are when I work (because I work shorter days some days to do the school run). No student has an issue so pressing on a Saturday that it can't wait until Monday morning.

All this being said, you should have a contract and that is something I would be negotiating pretty swiftly. Otherwise, how do you know really want expectations they have for your working time?

Pota2 Thu 24-Oct-19 11:15:35

Minutopia why should she attend any meetings even if they are relevant? Being paid per term is extremely different to hourly paid. Hourly paid is being paid for the hours you work and nothing else. If they want her for meetings, they need to pay her for meetings.

KayakingOnDown Tue 05-Nov-19 19:47:28

As a former hourly-paid lecturer in FE, I claimed for any meetings I attended. If I wasn't going to get paid, I didn't attend them.

I was also an hourly-paid lecturer in a university, for 11 years. I had contracts but they made sure I didn't get a timetable every few terms so I would be entitled to a permanent contract. Bastards.

Don't let them exploit you. I would keep my email communication with students to a minimum too.

KayakingOnDown Tue 05-Nov-19 19:48:16

would NOT be entitled to a permanent contract.

JohnnyMcGrathSaysFuckOff Tue 05-Nov-19 19:51:57

This sounds like bad practice.

I am a HoD, and our hourly paid staff get rates which encompass teaching but also marking, student queries etc. They are not expected to hold weekly office hours. They are not expected to attend meetings unless paid (we have a rep who attends on behalf of that cohort and who gets paid).

Academia is horribly casualised but you are definitely not working for a good employer.

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