From time to time, an employee might be asked or required to perform some duty outside of his primary job.
For example: A teacher might be required to act as an afternoon bus monitor or attend a grade-level meeting after regular work hours. An assistant principal might be required to attend all after-school athletic events.
Employees might wonder whether they can be required to perform these extra duties and, if so, whether they have to be paid extra for doing so. Neither answer is simple.
For contract employees, the subject of additional duties
is first governed by the contract itself. Most teacher contracts contain a specific clause stating that additional duties can be assigned at the district's discretion. Most teacher contracts also do not state duty hours. These two factors mean that generally, a district is able to require some work time beyond the ordinary workday. Exactly how much work can be required is a subject of hot debate.
The question becomes whether working any extra hours or days would be considered a reasonable additional duty. The inquiry typically used in making that decision is whether it was something that the parties—educator and district—knew or reasonably should have known might be required when they initially entered the contract.
The reasonableness of an additional duty is a very subjective determination. There is no “black-and-white” test for what falls under the contract, but individual facts in each case will determine the outcome. The focus is first on what is commonly expected of educators in general and, second, what has been expected of educators locally. The question is: Should the educator have known this was or could be expected when he signed his contract?
Traditional teacher tasks would be considered reasonable
, such as preparing lessons, grading in the evenings, and occasionally attending after-school department meetings and parent-teacher conferences. But, as expectations evolve, so does the standard for reasonable
. It has become increasingly common for teachers to tutor after regular hours and attend weekend pre-STAAR preparation sessions. As these become more common and an understood part of teaching, it is also possible that they are a more reasonable additional duty.
Local expectations are also important.
If teachers know that in their district teachers are expected to work at the concession stand during school athletic events and sign their contracts knowing that, then they have agreed to accept that as a part of their jobs. If teachers know that on their campus, the teachers are expected to attend weekly grade-level planning meetings after hours, that means the meetings are more likely to be considered reasonable additional duties.
Sudden changes raise more questions
—changes such as a mid-year 30-minute extension of the workday or being told that you must provide medical services to a new student. It might be less clear that a teacher should have known that he was “signing on” for this duty when he agreed to his contract.
The same analysis is used when the issue is not extra time but instead some sort of new duty. As mentioned, having teachers work as bus monitors is fairly common, so that would pretty clearly be considered a reasonable additional duty under the contract. The same would be true for meeting with parents, even difficult parents, so a teacher generally cannot refuse to do so. But other more unusual tasks can raise questions. For example, a teacher might be informed that a new student has special medical needs that she is going to have to perform—perhaps giving a shot or assisting with restroom needs. These might raise questions about needed training or safety, and that might make a particular duty unreasonable. Again, there is a lot of gray area here.
Most educator contracts also state that the educator’s normal salary compensates the educator for all additional duties performed.
So, if an assignment would be considered a reasonable additional duty, the district does not provide additional compensation. Generally, when an educator receives extra compensation for performing a duty, that duty is called a supplemental duty
rather than an additional duty. (Supplemental duties are discussed below.)
Can you refuse an additional duty?
The answer is a definite "maybe." Your contract gives the district the right to assign additional duties, so reasonable additional duties cannot simply be refused. However, supplemental duties are usually not covered by the contract and can be refused. A lot depends on the classification of a particular assignment. Generally, supplemental duties are included in the supplemental duty salary schedule and are those that take more time and thus warrant more compensation. Coaching is probably the most common example of a supplemental duty. There is a lot of gray area as to when a reasonable "additional duty" that cannot be refused becomes so burdensome as to make it unreasonable.
As with all issues involving the workplace, an educator can try to have additional duties removed or modified by informally discussing the matter with supervisors or by filing a grievance.
The answers are much simpler for noncontract employees. Because there is no contract, the district is generally free to require that the employee perform any legal task. The employee can try to explain why the additional duty should not be required, but—except in situations where some specific legal right is at issue, such as a reasonable accommodation for a disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act—the employer can demand that the employee perform the task. Should all efforts to persuade the employer fail, the employee’s only recourse is resignation.
Can districts extend the school day?
Section 25.082(a) of the Texas Education Code
requires a minimum school day of seven hours, including intermissions and recesses. There is no maximum workday set in state or federal law. Local policy therefore determines the number of hours in a workday.
For contract employees, an extension might be considered a change in the contract term that cannot be made during the contract. This is why school districts usually announce planned changes for the next school year in the spring.
Work hours can be changed at any time for noncontract employees.