Ask TRUFA: ARE YOU WORKING WITHOUT A CONTRACT?

Ask TRUFA is a venue for members to ask questions anonymously and receive answers from TRUFA Stewards or Executive. Submit your question at Ask TRUFA.

QUESTION:

I have been asked to teach a number of courses by my Department Chair, however, no official employment offer (contract) has been extended to me by HR. This situation has continued for over a week now. I want to know if in case of any work-related injury my employer would be obligated to extend to me my rights, or could they legally walk away from any responsibility? Isn’t being required to work without a contract in place a violation of Labour Code? Any clarification and/or recommendation would be greatly appreciated. — Justin Case

UPDATE:

Dear Dr. Case and TRU faculty,

TRUFA has received assurances that contracts will be issued expeditiously to ensure that no faculty member is in the classroom without a valid contract. In your particular case, when initially one- or two-day contracts, followed by a two-week contract, were issued because enrolment figures had not been finalized, there was a delay in the issuing of a semester-long contract when the students numbers were clear. In my initial response I referred to “many” sessional faculty. However, it’s apparent that a very few sessional faculty have been affected by this delay. I want to assure you and all TRU faculty that Chairs, Deans and the Provost’s office will be working diligently to make sure that there are no further delays.

If you or any of your colleagues do experience a similar delay, please notify TRUFA immediately so that we can alert the responsible authorities.

Tom

ANSWER:

In order to assign you legally to teach, the University is required to hire you formally with a signed contract. In fact, TRU administration has told TRUFA that it would not tolerate any situation in which faculty not under contract were in the classroom. However, your situation is not unique, and TRUFA will continue to insist that contracts be in place before faculty are assigned to courses. A very strong case could be made that the employer is legally responsible for any injury you may suffer in the classroom; without you having a legal contract, TRU would be hard-pressed to claim WorkSafe BC coverage, and would be liable to be sued for damages. Likewise, you technically would have every right to “walk away” at any point, since no contract is there to be upheld.

I have copied our Federation of Post Secondary Educators (FPSE) staff representative to get his input on this important issue.

Thanks for asking TRUFA.

 

 

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