We hope this message finds you and your families well during these unprecedented times. We would like to share what we’re working on for our members as we navigate recent events impacting our local, and locals of 23 colleges in Ontario.
On Monday April 20 the College released a memo on forced vacation use. This has lead to confusion on both Admin and Support sides. We’ve had hundreds of questions from a large number of members and are doing our best to reply to all of them.
Forced Vacation Usage
We are being forced to use
- The remaining days we earned from 2018-2019 (given July 1st, 2019) and
- The days we earned from 2019-2020 (given July 1st, 2020)
Vacation days for the next year are accrued starting on July 1st, 2020. We are not given those days until July 1st, 2021.
This means we will go without vacation days until July 1st, 2021. To tell us that we will have no vacation time for an entire year is a tough pill to swallow.
The very first sentence of article 11.5 says “Vacation shall be as scheduled by the College.” It is clear that, although employees can state their preferences and shall not be unreasonably denied, the scheduling of vacation is predominantly a management right. Management has the discretion to approve/deny (in this case) based on two conditions:
- Any vacation carry-over must be “consistent with efficient staffing requirements”. Overall, there is less work now in some areas than there will be when we eventually return. The College has set out an Overall Policy.
- There must be an “agreement on scheduling” those days next year with your supervisor. There is likely to be no such agreement. The exception will be employees who are doing critical work right now and cannot be replaced while they use vacation days.
Yes, they can ask you to take your 2019-2020 vacation before June 30th. Being forced to use your vacation for 2020-2021 before it is given would be a violation of the Collective Agreement.
There are always special circumstances. If you need to carry-over vacation, request it in writing and state which dates you would like to take. Provide specific reasons for why you need to carry-over these days.
Yes, the College has the right to deny vacation carry-over for most employees in the current circumstances. We do not have an absolute right to carry-over vacation days to next year.
In Article 11.6:
Recognizing the needs of the College and the desires of employees, an employee may carry over up to three (3) weeks of vacation to the immediately subsequent vacation year, consistent with efficient staffing requirements and subject to agreement on the scheduling of the carry-over week(s) in the following vacation year at a time satisfactory to the College.
Occasionally, you may want to carry up to three weeks vacation to the next year so you can take a longer vacation. E.g. six weeks all at once for a special trip or project.
In contract language, the words that come first in an article are weighted heavier than the words that follow when balancing competing interests. “Recognizing the needs of the College” comes before “the desires of employees”. In these terms, the College’s needs generally outweigh employee desires.
Forced Lieu Time Usage
Per the Collective Agreement:
- No – The College cannot force you to take lieu time instead of pay for accrued overtime.
- Yes – If you choose lieu time, you can be required to take that time within 60 days (in this case before June 30th)
Under the Collective Agreement, you must be allowed to choose lieu time OR pay for overtime worked. The College cannot force you to accept lieu time instead of pay.
Article 6.6.4 of the Collective Agreement states
Where an employee has worked and accumulated authorized overtime … such employee shall have the option of
– electing payment at the applicable overtime rate or
– time off equivalent to the applicable overtime rate.
It is a violation of our collective agreement for the College to tell you
- overtime must be taken as time off, or
- to intimidate you into accepting lieu time.
Article 6.6.4 also states that lieu time not taken within 60 days must be paid, unless usage at a later time is agreed upon with management:
Where the employee elects time off at the applicable overtime rate, such time off
– must be taken within sixty (60) calendar days of the occurrence of the overtime (unless extended by agreement of the College and the employee)
– [taken] at a time determined by the College and satisfactory to the employee.
Where time off in lieu is not taken on the foregoing basis, payment shall be made in accordance with the applicable overtime rate.
If you chose lieu time: The College can force lieu time to be taken before June 30th.
If you chose to be paid: They cannot force you to take your authorized overtime as lieu.
Note that overtime worked on a stat holiday cannot be taken as time in lieu (article 10.5).
If your family members have lost their jobs, or you have other pressing financial needs, ask for payment. If you cannot be spared right now due to the nature of your job, ask for payment or ask to schedule your lieu time after June 30th.
You cannot be denied pay based on Article 6.6.4. If you are denied, we will follow the process in the Collective Agreement.
Information to follow
In our meeting with HR on April 24, they advised us that Paul Armstrong, Kim Watkins, and Megan Mascarin would like to meet with us on April 27 to discuss the memo and a new communication that will be sent following the meeting.
We do not know what will come next. We are planning for the worst and hoping for the best. We want to make sure our members’ rights are being protected. You’ve worked hard for those rights, and the college is not respecting them. While we may not be able to stop this from happening, we can make sure we follow the processes given to us in our Collective Agreement.
Please remember that if you have any questions, contact us and we will do our best to make sure we get the answers your need.
Take care and stay safe,
Officers of Local 241