Principles for managing workload


The University of York aspires to a humane, holistic approach to workload.

The University is committed to supporting colleagues in achieving a positive whole-life balance, and enabling all staff to thrive.

The principles set out in this document reflect the intent to ensure the University’s delivery of its vision and strategic ambition are compatible with colleagues being supported in achieving a positive whole-life balance (enjoying work and being able to balance it with quality time with family and friends, time for adequate sleep, exercise and nutrition, and time to do things that promote overall wellbeing).



  • Workload considerations should prioritise and be underpinned by reasonable expectations of work-life balance and facilitate a healthy working environment.
  • Workload will take into account the importance of time for reflection, wellbeing and the creation and maintenance of positive relationships.
  • We are proud to be a diverse and inclusive community, and to celebrate and support the full range of strengths and needs in our community. 
  • Our workload planning will be informed and underpinned by the University of York Equality and Diversity in Employment policy and University of York Disability in Employment policy.
  • Each individual’s workload will include appropriate adjustments to take account of: 
    • periods of extended leave, including maternity/ adoption/ parental leave and sick leave
    • any period of phased return following such periods of leave
    • appropriate time for returning staff to plan and re-establish themselves within their role
    • any disability, long-term health condition or additional needs a staff member may have (mapping out the reasonable adjustments process for disabled staff)
    • any caring responsibilities which may impact on a staff member’s ability to carry out their work at certain times
    • other periods of leave or absence.
  • Any individual adjustments in relation to the above should remain confidential to the individual. However, as a general principle, the management of workload should be transparent to the individuals it relates to.
  • No member of the University of York should feel overwhelmed by work and the University commits to providing support to anyone struggling as a result of their workload and will provide clear guidance on how such concerns will be managed.

Strategic alignment

  • Work allocation will be based upon meeting the strategic aims and objectives of the University/ faculty/ school/ department/ directorate.
  • Encouraging diversity of ideas, experience and knowledge is a key component of the University strategy and therefore should be prioritised within any consideration of workload.
  • The University Strategy and/or other change programmes, will be considered from the perspective of their workload implications prior to commencement with consideration of the impact on individual workload and solutions to manage or mitigate that impact.
  • All members of the University will collaboratively and consultatively develop streamlined and effective ways of working, sharing best practice wherever possible.
  • There should be no significant or protracted over- or under-allocation of duties, with staff not usually expected to work in excess of their contractual hours, reviewed as an average across a year, acknowledging there may be fluctuations in activity to meet institutional needs.
  • Governance and other organisational or operational structures should be as streamlined as possible, with contributions and decisions made by individuals with the relevant knowledge and accountability.
  • Individual strengths and development needs identified through the Performance and Development Review (PDR) process should be recognised as far as possible in allocating work. These should be balanced with the requirements of the role and the overall University/ faculty/ school/ department/ directorate aims when reviewing and setting individual objectives.


  • Department leaders, line managers and individuals share the responsibility to manage overall workload and reduce it wherever possible without compromising the purpose of the University.
  • Allocation of work is fair, transparent and involves dialogue between an individual and their line manager.
  • Line managers recognise and respect individual circumstances, and are empowered to respond quickly and effectively to workload pressures.
  • Schools/ departments/ directorates will work collaboratively in managing distribution of workload and also in identifying best practice for workload allocation with others within their faculty.

Additional role specific principles

  • In addition to the above:
    • Academic workload will align to the further principles set out in Appendix 1.
    • Professional and support workload will align to the further principles set out in Appendix 2 [to be developed].

Governance and monitoring

The University will undertake a periodic review of adherence to these workload principles to provide reassurance to the University Executive Board that workload is being managed appropriately. 

It is anticipated that this would take the form of an annual rolling sample of schools and directorates and that colleague’s views will form an integral part of this assessment.

Support and guidance [to be developed further]

  • Academic workload model guidance and examples of good practice
  • Manager support and guidance
  • Linkedin Learning

Appendix 1: Academic Workload Management 

All academic schools/ departments are expected to develop, publish and deploy workload models which align to the above principles, with the workload model and methodology being transparent to colleagues in that department.

The workload model should measure time with the hours or weeks assigned to tasks being realistic and built from the bottom up, based on the time needed for an effective member of staff to do the task properly.

Workload models should include the range of activities that academic staff are expected to contribute to (subject to their contractual role). The following list provides an indicative but not exhaustive list of areas of workload to be incorporated:

  • Teaching and assessment (recognising and incorporating the breadth of activity now required for teaching and assessment, both through traditional methods but also reflecting continued developments in relation to digital methods, interaction, co-production etc)
  • Scholarship and educational enhancement
  • Curriculum development - new
  • Curriculum development - updating
  • Student supervision - UG
  • Student supervision - PG Taught 
  • Student supervision - PG Research
  • Research grant application preparation
  • Research publication preparation
  • Identifying new PGR students (CDT/DTP applications, responding to self-funded students, supporting students through scholarship schemes etc)
  • Research activities (eg grant management, supporting post-docs)  
  • Engagement, collaboration and partnerships with internal and external partners
  • Generating research impact
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship activities
  • Leadership and management roles
  • Personal development (including training, coaching and mentoring)
  • Leadership and citizenship (including work to enhance and improve Equality, Diversity and Inclusion)

The allocation of work to early career academics (Teaching and Scholarship, Teaching and Research) should acknowledge and take account of their need for more time to prepare for and deliver some of their allocated work. For example, staff new to teaching should have a work allocation with a greater emphasis on developmental activity during their Probationary Period.

The time required to support programmes such as PGCAP, YPAD should be incorporated into the workload for individuals undertaking those programmes.

Workload models should be based on a notional working year of 1,642 hours (52 weeks of 37 hours per week (pro-rata for part-time working) less entitlement to annual leave, bank holidays and closure days). However the use of the notional figure of 1,642 hours is not intended to imply a contractual or defined working period or indeed the hours that should be allocated: it is used solely to act as a guide in ensuring a fair allocation of work through workload model. 

It is also important that academic staff record annual leave and sickness through the University Flexileave system. Managers are expected to manage instances where staff are not taking annual leave allowances.