College managers weighed down by stress and targets

College managers are struggling with excessive workloads and high stress levels, according to a survey by college manager trade union the Association for College Management (ACM).

The survey of the working habits of ACM members found that, while two out of three were working more than the national average 48-hour-week limit set by the Working Time Regulations, only 4% had signed an opt-out that allows them to do so.

The ACM claimed this meant colleges were ignoring safe limits on working hours to meet targets.

In addition, 90% of ACM members regularly took work home, while 81% described the demands of their job as high. One in eight managers had been diagnosed by a GP as suffering from work-related stress in the 12 months before the survey was undertaken.

The 2007 survey results prove little has changed since the previous ACM survey in 2004, implying that moves to improve work-life balance have by-passed the further education sector.

ACM general-secretary Peter Pendle said: “These figures show clearly just how much pressure is placed on college managers. Many arrive for work early, leave late, and don’t always take a proper lunch break. When they do take any time off the work is still there when they return.

“Unfortunately colleges are reluctant to tackle the problem.”

ACM said it had been pressing the Association of Colleges to negotiate national guidelines on reducing working time.

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