COVID-19 FAQ

The information on this page is intended to assist and inform our MUNFA members and will be changed and updated as the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation evolves. If you have a question that is not listed below, please let us know via email at munfa@mun.ca.

If you have questions/concerns about employment-related issues it is important you contact the MUNFA office, munfa@mun.ca, as soon as possible to ensure the preservation of appropriate timelines. As well, it is strongly encouraged that when you are raising questions/concerns with your administrative head that you do so in writing and request written responses. If your head will only provide an oral response, keep detailed notes on the conversation and email them to the head as soon as possible, indicating that you are doing so as an aide memoire and to confirm that you share a common understanding of what was communicated.

The below FAQs were last updated on June 23, 2020.

Promotion & Tenure

Q: I am concerned that the COVID-19 situation may negatively impact my consideration for promotion and tenure. What can I do?
A: This concern is something that MUNFA has been discussing with the University administration. We hope to have more information on this in the coming weeks. ASMs should ensure they retain any records that document how the COVID-19 situation has negatively impacted their research and scholarly activity (e.g., cancelled research projects and travel, grant delays, etc.).

Sabbatical

Q: I am currently on sabbatical/have applied for sabbatical in the Fall. I am concerned about the impact of the current COVID-19 situation on my sabbatical.
A: Clause 22.24 of the Collective Agreement notes that:

“If a sabbatical leave has been granted, it is expected that the ASM will take the leave unless unforeseen personal hardship will ensue or unless the proposed activity must be cancelled or delayed due to circumstances beyond the control of the ASM. Requests for cancellation or delay must be submitted in writing to the Administrative Head and shall not be unreasonably denied. If a sabbatical is cancelled, or delayed beyond one (1) year, a new application must be filed.”

As well, MUNFA has filed an Association Grievance addressing failures by the University to grant appropriate accommodations to ASMs’ whose sabbatical plans have been disrupted by the pandemic.
If you would like to discuss your request for deferral or suspension of sabbatical leave, or any other concerns, with MUNFA please get in touch with us at munfa@mun.ca.

Course Delivery

Q: I am working to transition my courses to remote delivery. Where can I get help with that?
A: ASMs should engage their Administrative Heads for help and guidance on transitioning to a remote course delivery model. The Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL) also provides resources and guidance to ASMs. https://blog.citl.mun.ca/instructionalresources/remote-vs-online-instruction/

In addition, recognizing the increased workload that accompanies the transition to remote/online course delivery, MUNFA has proposed to the University administration that for the upcoming Fall and Winter semesters, all teaching norms be reduced by one course in each Academic Unit. We await a response from the administration on this proposal.

If you do not get appropriate help when you request it, please let us know by contacting munfa@mun.ca.

Q: I’ve had a course cancelled this semester due to the COVID-19 situation. Is there an expectation that I make up this course in a later semester?
A: Clause 3.36 of the Collective Agreement addresses courses that are cancelled within two (2) months prior to the start of, or during, a semester. The Administrative Head may consult with the ASM and assign a replacement course at a future time that is agreeable to the ASM.

MUNFA has asked that the University not assign replacement courses to ASMs who have courses cancelled due to the COVID-19 situation. We will communicate updates to our members on this issue as they become available.

Intellectual Property / Copyright

Q: I am moving my class online and am worried about protecting my copyright materials from being used without my consent. What can I do?
A: ASMs are advised that all provisions in the Collective Agreement are still in effect, including privacy and intellectual property rights and academic freedom rights.

As noted in a recent memo to MUNFA members, no lectures or classes can be recorded without the ASM’s written permission (Clause 27.27), and ASMs have a right to privacy in their personal and professional communications and files, subject to legal requirements (Clause 27.18). ASMs are encouraged to become familiar with the privacy and security settings of any program or software to ensure secure use.

Further, the content of remote teaching sessions remains the intellectual property of the ASM (Clause 28.01). ASMs should consider communicating a privacy and copyright statement to their students, for example:

Students are reminded that privacy laws and expectations continue, and that videos and other all other course materials are copyright of the instructor, unless otherwise noted. Students must not record, publish, send, post on an internet site, sell, rent, or otherwise distribute this work without the instructor’s express permission. 

For more information, please see the CAUT Briefing on Privacy and Intellectual Property, or contact the MUNFA office at munfa@mun.ca.

Q: Should I use a third party platform, such as Youtube, to share lectures and instructional videos? 
A: Platforms such as Youtube have extensive terms of service with significant intellectual property right implications. We encourage ASMs to be cautious when agreeing to these terms and to consider what this means for your teaching and research material. If you have further questions, feel free to contact our office, munfa@mun.ca.

Working from Home / Home Office Setup

Q: While I am working from home, can some of my expenses be claimed on my 2020 income tax return?
A: MUNFA has raised this question with the employer and have been informed that qualification for a T2200 may be dependant on the Canada Revenue Agency changing regulations for home office expense deductions.

At this time MUNFA advises ASMs to retain any receipts for expenses incurred while working from home and to direct further queries to your Administrative Head or to Deborah Collis (dcollis@mun.ca), the Director of Financial & Administrative.

ASMs may also wish to speak to your financial advisor regarding this.

Q: I had to postpone my professional development plans. Can I carry forward the funds in my Professional Development and Travel Expense Reimbursement (PDTER) to use once the pandemic is over?
A: Clause 32.42 of the Collective Agreement notes that:

An ASM may carry forward up to two years PDTER entitlement to a maximum entitlement of three years at any one time.”

Q: My home office is not adequately equipped to meet my needs, ergonomic or otherwise. Am I able to bring home office equipment from Memorial University? How do I make such a request?
A: The administration has informed MUNFA that any questions about ergonomics can be directed to MUN’s Ergonomics Program at ergonomics@mun.ca. We have also learned that some academic units have authorized the removal of office and workstation equipment to home offices, and that Campus Enforcement and Patrol are aware of this provision. ASMs who seek to remove workstation or office equipment are advised to contact their Unit Heads prior to doing so.

In addition, MUNFA has filed an Association Grievance contending that the University, by forcing some ASMs to use PDTER funds to purchase the necessary materials and equipment required to perform their work during the COVID-19 pandemic, has violated Clause 1.11, Articles 2, 3, 27, and 32, and other relevant sections of the Collective Agreement.

If you have questions/concerns related to the above, we encourage you to get in contact with MUNFA, munfa@mun.ca, as soon as possible.

Q: What are Memorial University’s Occupational Health and Safety requirements if I’m working from home?
A: Occupational health and safety is a shared responsibility. Memorial University, as an employer, is required by statute and Article 27 of the MUN/MUNFA Collective Agreement to ensure the health and safety of its workers in the places where they engage in their occupation. ASMs also have an obligation to take reasonable care to protect their own health and safety while working. In this vein, MUNFA encourages its members to consult the Telework and Home Office Health and Safety Guide for advice on working from home in a manner that is comfortable and can prevent injury.

Issues about workplace health and safety may still arise while working from remote locations. ASMs are advised to contact their Unit Heads and Occupational Health and Safety Committees to communicate concerns, and that normal reporting requirements for near miss and injury incidents while working are still in effect.

Building Access

Q: I require access to library resources, printing services, etc. Is there a way I can access these services while working remotely?
A: In our most recent proposed Memorandum of Understanding to the administration, MUNFA requested that the University provide ASMs with access to on-campus facilities required for the recording of capturing of lectures, seminars, laboratories, and other remote teaching requirements.

In addition, we requested that the University provide reasonable access to library resources that are not available online and establish a centralized, same-day, printing service where University documents can be sent for printing and from where ASMs can pick up completed print jobs.

We await a response from the administration on the above proposals.

Q: How do I access my office during the pandemic? What if my request to access my office has been denied?
A: Memorial University has outlined the process to request access building access on their website: https://www.mun.ca/covid19/faculty-staff/building-faq.php.

If you encounter difficulties while following this process, or feel you have been unreasonably denied a request to give you access to your office, please get in touch with our office at munfa@mun.ca.

Research Grants

Q: I am concerned about the status of my grant application. Who can I ask to find out about an extension?
A: ASMs with questions regarding grant application status should follow-up with the relevant administrative office in their Academic Unit. Questions may also be directed to Research Grant and Contract Services.
Q: I am worried about whether my research funding may be in jeopardy on account of COVID-19. Where can I find information on the status of my existing grant?
A: ASMs should direct questions and concerns regarding current grants to Research Grant and Contract Services. The following information, provided by the Canadian Association of University Teachers, may also be helpful: https://www.caut.ca/content/covid-19-and-academic-workplace-questions-answers#11

Contract Faculty

Q: As a contractual Academic Staff Member, I am concerned about my job security at this time. Is there anything I can do?
A: In MUNFA’s most recent proposed Memorandum of Understanding to the administration, we requested that where an individual has accepted an appointment for the Spring, Intersession, or Summer semesters in the 2019-20 Academic Year, or for the Fall, Winter, Spring, Intersession, or Summer semesters for the 2020-21 Academic Year, and the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency requires that a course section be cancelled, the course section shall be cancelled without loss of pay for the ASM. We await a response from the administration on this proposal.
Q: My contract for the Fall semester begins on September 1st. How will I be able to successfully transition my course to remote/online delivery so close to the start of the semester?
A: In MUNFA’s most recent proposed Memorandum of Understanding to the administration, we requested Teaching Term Appointees required to teach courses remotely in the Fall 2020 semester shall begin their appointments on August 1, 2020. We await a response from the administration on this proposal.

General

Q: I am finding this situation difficult and challenging. What supports are available to me?
A: We understand the strain that the current situation is taking on you, whether that be due to an intensified responsibility to care for dependents in new and often complex ways, concern for family and friends, or the pressure to adapt to a quickly changing workplace, amongst many other stressors. We encourage you to continue reaching out to us and to each other, while doing your utmost to keep our communities healthy and safe.

We encourage employees take advantage of supports in our current benefits plan such as the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The EAP by Shepell.fgi, is a comprehensive, confidential service available to Memorial employees, retirees and their immediate family members (provided they are also covered under the university’s health plan) at no cost, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Individuals with urgent mental health concerns should avail of one of the following community-based services:

  • 24-hour mental health crisis line: (709) 737-4668 (local) or 1-888-737-4668 (province-wide).
  • Mobile Crisis Response Team: 1-888-737-4668 St. John’s Region.
  • 24-hour Walk-in Psychiatric Assessment Unit at the Waterford Hospital Site on Waterford Bridge Road: (709) 777-3021 or (709) 777-3022.
  • A Doorways Clinic – locations throughout the province.
  • Bridge the gApp – https://www.bridgethegapp.ca
Q: I’m currently caring for a child/dependant while working from home. Is there any accommodation being provided for my situation?
A: Many ASMs are experiencing challenges meeting dependant-care obligations during this time. Academic Units should be flexible in accommodating these obligations in accordance with the Newfoundland and Labrador’s Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of an employee’s family status.

If you are experiencing work-related consequences as a result of your need to attend to dependant-care responsibilities, it is recommended that you contact your unit head to discuss appropriate accommodations. In the event any issues are not resolved satisfactorily, please contact MUNFA so that we may look into this for you, and to discuss potential options.

In addition, recognizing the difficult situation many ASMs are facing at this time, and the increased workload that accompanies the transition to remote/online course delivery, MUNFA has proposed to the administration that for the upcoming Fall and Winter semesters teaching norms be reduced by one in all Academic Units. We await a response from the administration on this proposal.