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Seasonal mixed messages

As ias mentioned yesterday, we've been told that the University is going to be closed on Monday (the Highways Agency have nabbed our grit, so campus is likely to be pretty treacherous). The mail from the Registrar read as follows:

Please be aware that the University will be closed on Monday 11 January. This decision has been taken, due to safety concerns arising from a depleted supply of grit. [...] Please be assured staff will not lose any pay or leave as a result of this closure day.

On the other hand, the mail from my Head of School read:

The University is officially closed on Monday [...] the strong advice is to stay away on Monday and work from home.

The usual practice for University closure days, which are typically public holidays but also include the period between Xmas and New Year, is that there is no expectation that staff should be working (at home or otherwise). Why should this be different?

I also overheard some Estates staff talking outside the Nursery when I picked the garklet up yesterday - apparently, they were sent home on Wednesday. This clearly explains why many of the paths around campus (particularly the steep paths between Physics/Geography and the rest of campus) hadn't been gritted on Thursday morning when I was struggling to get across campus for a 0900 lecture.

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Paid holidays are part of your contract.

Working on days that are not holidays is also part of your contract.

Stop whinging because other people are getting something you're not. You're not being asked to do anything that you didn't agree to when you applied for the job.

If we follow your line of logic, everyone might as well take the day off.

My husband works from home. He won't be getting any time off. We've never asked if the company's office staff are getting a holiday - he's just doing the job he agreed to do.

Gosh. Do you think you could possibly be a little more patronising?

I assume that you read the sentence "staff will not lose any pay or leave as a result of this closure day". This rather suggests that the University (as represented by the Registrar) is assuming that staff will *not* be working on Monday. This seems to have been contradicted by my Head of School - and it's this inconsistency in what we've been told that I find irritating.

As for the issue of paid holidays, this University has tried to have its cake and eat it before now. During the industrial action a couple of years back, the University decided to deduct 1/220th (and not 1/365th) of the pay of anyone taking part. This rather suggests that they believe that we're only actually paid for weekdays which are neither closure days or taken as annual leave.

Well, I read that as "if you can't work, don't worry, we won't dock your pay or leave allowance". It's a legit concern since some companies *are* doing exactly that.

That said, if you work in a job that is possible to do from home, there's no need to get behind on it just because you can't get to your office. I see no contradiction. If you get interrupted by the garklet and not by undergrads, it will feel all the more familiar.

If we had been busy the days I was stuck at home, I'd have been hard at it all day. As it was, I edited one piece, and got a lot of my home stuff dealt with. Nice for me, but actually, not the reason they sent me home.


The Uni's policy is clear that if staff can't get into work they have to work from home, if possible, or take a day's leave. That is completely different to being told not to come into work and the words 'closure day' being used.

Weekends are not closure days and in fact the library is staffed and open this weekend. However Closure Days are defined in everyone's contracts as paid holidays in addition to the annual leave allowance. If a member of staff has to work on a closure day (as can happen, e.g. feeding the animals in the animal house, backing up machines etc) then they can claim additional holiday in lieu.

Thus there is a huge discrepancy between the Registrar saying it is a closure day and thus staff can spend it how they like and Nick's Head of School telling people to work from home.

If there is an official definition of a "closure day" then that makes a difference.

I wonder if either the Registrar or the Head of School thought about the terminology used.


Actually Closure Days are defined as holiday in everyone's contracts as days on which the university is closed and they are not expected. They are in addition to annual leave allowance. If a member of staff has to work on a closure day, for example due to maintaining a critical system or feeding the animals in the animal house, then they can claim that time back as extra annual leave. However if a member of staff who does or have a critical role chooses to work on a closure day, they cannot claim that time back - it is the same as them choosing to work at the weekend or during their annual leave.

The Registrar chose to call Monday a Closure Day, I am sure he had not done this without thinking about the consequences. That Nick's Head of School seems fit to have contradicted the Registrar by telling staff to work at home (which most acdemics would do anyway but then they frequently work 'out of hours' by choice) does seem rather odd.

If Closure days are defined in the Contract, then I agree that changes the issue.

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