We are writing to provide you with information on a few issues we have been working on relating to disruptions caused by COVID-19. We are still discussing these issues with the University and do not have any new agreements in place at this time. Nonetheless, we wanted to share the concerns we’ve heard and what might be done to address them.
We know that Sessional Lecturers, like other faculty, have and/or are doing a significant amount of additional work in order to prepare for remote teaching. We share the concerns of Sessional Lecturers about compensation for this additional workload. We are also aware that Non-Continuing Sessional Lecturers are concerned that their courses may be cancelled at the discretion of their various departments, risking not just unemployment but loss of access to benefits. While we are pleased that the eligibility for CERB was extended (as of April 15th) to apply to Sessional Lecturers, we are concerned about the potential effects on these already vulnerable members. We will continue to press for a satisfactory resolution from the University. We are also compiling data on the summer and fall enrollment to assist the Association in ensuring that our Sessional Lecturers will not be denied work should enrollments justify course offerings and to ensure that there will be no loss of rights should Sessional Lecturers lose access to work that would have otherwise been available owing to the pandemic. Sessional Lecturers who are being advised (or have already been advised) that they will not receive teaching assignments should contact the Faculty Association.
Expenses associated with working from home
We have received a number of questions regarding the use of PD funds, the availability of additional funds to cover teaching expenses, and tax implications associated with working from home.
Some faculty have asked about whether the PD fund criteria can be relaxed to allow them to purchase ergonomic furniture and other equipment for their home office. The University has thus far declined to alter the criteria, saying that “employees with a temporary work from home arrangement are responsible for maintaining a suitable and secure off-site workspace at their own expense.”1 However, faculty should be allowed access to their offices to obtain desk chairs and monitors, for example, as long as there is a record that the property was moved to the home office. This activity should be coordinated with the appropriate departmental contact. Please let us know if you have tried to arrange to bring equipment home from your office to enable your teaching and research and have been unable to do so.
Many members have expressed concern about home office expenses, including teaching equipment, and have asked about the availability of additional funds. We are aware that some departments have made funds available. Your Head or Department Chair should be your primary point of contact for finding out what resources can be accessed at this time. Many equipment expenses can also be claimed using your PD funds.
We know that members are likely incurring extra expenses associated with working from home, and that most departments will not make sufficient additional funds available. Therefore, we have asked the University whether they plan to issue Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) T2200 Declaration of Conditions of Employment forms so that members who have been asked to work from home during the pandemic can claim home office expenses on their 2020 income tax form. The T2200 is completed by the employer to certify that an employee is required to work from home and that any employment expenses not reimbursed by the employer may be claimed on their annual tax return. The University has said that they do not generally issue T2200 forms, as the requirements for employees to deduct home work space expenses are rarely met, and despite the current remote working conditions, “As we follow the guidance of the Canada Revenue Agency, there is currently no plan to change our practice.”2
While the CRA has not announced any special tax provisions due to the pandemic, we expect that this will eventually be addressed by the government. In the meantime, members should retain receipts of all purchases necessary to perform their duties remotely. Note the square footage of the office area used and the total square footage of their residence, keeping track of home costs such as heating, hydro and water. These will be required if the tax rules do allow employees to claim expenses incurred during the 2020 pandemic “stay home” directive.
UPDATE MARCH 2, 2021: T2200S FORMS NOW AVAILABLE
UBC has now created T2200S for all UBC-employed faculty and staff for use in their personal tax returns as appropriate. For more information and access to the form visit this link.
Intellectual Property and online teaching
We are aware of concerns regarding intellectual property relating to the increasing amount of materials you have or will be uploading to Canvas or another CMS. Normally, members have a great deal of latitude to choose what materials they share with students and how they share it. With the move to remote instruction, you might feel pressure to make your intellectual property available to students in ways you previously had not.
Please be assured that despite the change in course delivery, you retain the copyright of your course materials, including any lectures you give online that are recorded or otherwise electronically disseminated. The language in Policy LR12 (Use of Teaching Materials in UBC Credit Courses, formerly Policy 81) on material contribution is clear that UBC scholars own all the intellectual property in the Teaching Materials that they create, and that uploading the Teaching Materials to a course delivery platform or publishing them on a webpage, for example, does not change that. There are a number of conditions that must be met in order for UBC to use and revise your teaching materials without your express permission; faculty who are concerned should review the Policy and contact us if you have any questions.
Despite these assurances, you may wish to include an indication of your copyright on your syllabus and slides or video materials that you upload. For example: “This lecture presentation and the powerpoint slides that accompany it are the exclusive copyright of Professor xx and may only be used by students enrolled in xxx in Summer term 2020 at the University of British Columbia. Unauthorized or commercial use of these lectures, including uploading to sites off of the University of British Columbia servers, is expressly prohibited.” You could also consider posting image-based PDF versions of PowerPoints or notes from which text can’t be copy and pasted.
Our discussions with the University on these and other matters are ongoing; please continue to reach out to the Association with your questions and concerns.