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Building flexibility into the contract

April 28, 2005

Hello again. Do you ever feel that your staff are working against you rather than with you? I suppose we all have moments when we look for cooperation and find resistance! From a manager's point of view, the crucial issue is to keep classes going without disruption. But the teacher's viewpoint can be very different.

A school director recently posed the following question:

"The contract I give teachers states that 22 teaching contact hours per week are normal. But, occasionally, I have to ask staff to increase their hours (to cover for a sick colleague, for example). At other times, if student numbers fall, they teach less than 22 hours. But recently they have come to see me as a group to say they think it is unfair to be asked to teach extra hours unless they are paid overtime. What should I do?"

My feeling is that this is a common problem that can cause ill feeling on both sides. I would advise that first the director should make all new contracts clearer. Say that extra teaching is sometimes expected and that it's usually balanced out in slacker times. Put in an annual figure for hours that will not be exceeded. If that global total is exceeded, then agree to pay up. With the teachers on the existing contract, you could say that you'll pay overtime, if, at the end of the term the extra hours they have taught have not been compensated by free hours during slack times.

I'd be interested to hear about the issues that cause you tension with staff.

Bye for now.

Patricia.

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