By Jensen, Randy on May 15, 2020.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Lethbridge is temporarily laying off or reducing hours for 145 continuing support staff. The layoffs are in addition to approximately 183 casual, research and student employees who had their hours reduced and appointments end as campus moved to restricted access in March.
Seventy-nine employees will have their hours reduced from full-time status, while 66 will be temporarily laid off, the U of L said in a release.
Under normal circumstances, these staff help deliver many of the important programs and services upon which the university’s students and community members rely. The COVID-19 pandemic has, however, had a profound and broad impact on the University of Lethbridge over the past two months. In-person classes have moved to remote delivery methods, most students vacated student residences, food services were shut down, activities such as fitness classes, theatre and music performances were cancelled, and most employees began working remotely from home with restricted access to campus.
Some university staff have been redeployed to other areas of campus to ensure vital functions continue. Support staff from almost all departments are affected by this decision.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically reduced our ability to undertake the in-person activities we normally offer to our students and our communities,” says Mike Mahon, U of L president and vice-chancellor. “During this time especially, the university must utilize its resources responsibly. Coupled with the significant budget cuts we are experiencing, as well as signalled future budget cuts, these temporary layoffs are regrettably necessary.”
Affected employees may elect to use vacation balances to delay the date of temporary layoff or to top-up the reduction to their hours of work. Employees will continue to receive most of their health benefit coverage during the temporary layoff, as well as Employee Family Assistance Program supports.
It is hoped the employees will be recalled to full-time employment for the Fall 2020 semester. This will depend on advice and direction from Alberta Health Services and efforts to provide a safe environment for both students and employees. On Wednesday, the government announced that stage one of its relaunch strategy would commence Thursday but noted the existing health order prohibiting in-person classes remains in place. Many other restrictions pertaining to various operations on campus remain.