This text is meant to provide some clarity around leave granted under clause 30.17 of the collective agreement (699 leave). UCCO-SACC-CSN has worked diligently to protect our members’ rights to this leave in relation to the global crisis of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Leave with or without pay for other reasons – 30.17 At its discretion, the Employer may grant:
- Leave with pay when circumstances not directly attributable to the employee prevent his or her reporting for duty. Such leave shall not be unreasonably withheld.
- Leave with or without pay for purposes other than those specified in this collective agreement.
Essentially, leave provided under this clause, which is coded as “699” in HRMS, is granted when other leave provisions do not exist in the collective agreement and when the situation is beyond members’ control. When the initial call for travellers to self-isolate for 14 days was made and provinces started shutting down schools, the knee-jerk reaction from the employer was that members would need to use their own leave for self-isolation or to care for their families. UCCO-SACC-CSN was quick to defend your rights and reminded the employer of clause 30.17.
Leave under clause 30.17 is granted for many different reasons. Historically, it has been granted for significant weather conditions that prevent employees from reporting to work. With respect to the current crisis, it will continue to be pushed for and granted due to reasons that are beyond members’ control and where no other leave provision applies.
Currently, the employer has signalled that if a member is experiencing flu-like symptoms or is in fact diagnosed with COVID-19, sick leave will be granted, and 699 leave will only be authorized when a member no longer has sufficient sick leave credits. The employer has explained that clause 30.17 no longer applies, as the conditions referred to in both (a) and (b) of the clause must be met to grant this leave.
As Article 31 (sick leave with pay) is granted when an employee is unable to perform his or her duties because of illness or injury, clause 30.17 (b) does not apply. Clause 31.02 (b) states, however, that sick leave will be granted provided that the employee “has the necessary sick leave credits.” The current direction from the employer is that once an employee has reached 0 sick leave credits, clause 30.17 will apply, and 699 leave will be granted.
Though the current direction is that sick leave must be used, please remember that we must act to protect each other. Please do not enter the workplace if you have any symptoms of COVID-19. Get a test done, if you can, and explain that you are a front-line worker.
Once you are cleared, it is safe for you to return to the workplace. UCCO-SACC-CSN recognizes that this is not an ideal situation. Being symptomatic does not always result in one using sick leave, this is especially true as we enter allergy season. UCCO-SACC-CSN will continue these conversations, but please inform a local rep if this situation applies to you.
There are many circumstances under which clause 30.17 will apply for our members. Currently, those defined by the employer are as follows:
- Mandatory self-isolation following international travel.
- Responsibilities related to the care of family members, due to the closures of schools and day care facilities (members must demonstrate that there are no other options available).
- Pregnant employees who may have an underlying maternal illness or who feel that continued work would pose a danger to their fetus, in situations where telework is not available.
- Immunocompromised employees, i.e. those members with a weakened immune system, such as those with HIV or cancer, as well as transplant patients taking immunosuppressive drugs.
If you contract the COVID-19 virus as a result of your work, clause 30.15 (injury-on-duty leave) applies. The decision made by each provincial jurisdiction to approve this claim will be evidence-based. This means that it will need to be demonstrated that the disease was contracted in the workplace.
With the implementation of increasingly strict directives related to social gatherings and self-isolation in our communities, front-line workers must go to work and then go back home to self-isolate; as such, when a case is confirmed within our workplace, it will become much easier to demonstrate that the virus was contracted at work instead of elsewhere.
If there is a confirmed case, it will be important that the members present fill out a report of exposure for your workers’ compensation board, your union will be there to help.
If you experience an issue with regard to a leave provision, please reach out to your local grievance officer for advice and guidance with regard to filing a grievance.