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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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"It is in the contract" is quite a lot different from "Equitable treatment". If in fact your contract says you don't work closures (I don't recall this part of the UoS contract but it has been a long time) then sure, you are entitled to take the Registrar's choice of words as definitive.

I think we should save moaning about "equitable treatment" for cases where the inequality is a deliberate outcome of policy, rather than merely happenstance. A policy of paying women less to do a job is inequitable, the group difference caused by a larger proportion of women working part time with consequent reduction in earnings is not. Workers who can carry on some or all of their activities from home when snowed in find themselves in that situation only by happenstance - it would be different if the HoS required certain people to work from home, while requiring others to work only in an office as a matter of policy.

In the absence of the whole emails (or whatever documents the quotes are from) I can only speculate, but I must say I am inclined towards the interpretation that many academic staff /will/ work anyway, just as they may do on other days when outsiders would see the University as closed, and so it is strongly worded advice from HoS to do so from home, rather than attempting to get into a University building to use some equipment or meet for coffee. But it may be that a broader context refutes that, I don't have it.

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