The central agreement requires the employer to offer two types of packages to employees within a classification prior to issuing a notice of layoff: a retirement allowance in Article 9.08(B) and a voluntary exit option in Article 9.08(C). Both packages are calculated on the basis of “two (2) weeks’ salary for each year of service.”
The issue in this case was how to calculate the packages for part-time employees. The Hospital had been pro-rating both the “two (2) weeks salary” and the “years of service” factors to account for employees’ part-time status. The Union pointed out that the Hospital’s approach was resulting in a “double discount” of the benefit for part-time employees. However, this approach, however illogical, found support in a 2013 award by arbitrator Steinberg involving CUPE Local 1974 and Kingston General Hospital (2013 CanLII 33 (ON LA)) – an award that had been upheld on judicial review to the Divisional Court (2013 ONSC 6054 (CanLII)).
In his award dated February 7, 2018 Arbitrator Gedalof reversed the trend established by the Steinberg Award by ruling in favour of the Union. He found no reason to depart from the plain meaning of the articles in question, and thus declared that while the reference to “two (2) weeks salary” is a reference to the part-time employee’s actual salary (which necessarily accounts for the employee’s part-time status), the reference to “year[s] of service” is to the employee’s actual calendar years of service, without any adjustment for status. In the result, it is now clear that part-time employees are to receive a single adjustment to reflect their part-time status, not a double discount.
As a result of this award, the value of packages under Articles 9.08(B) and (C) for part-timers across the province will increase significantly. It is also expected that this award will improve the value of separation allowances in Article 9.12, the calculation of which is described in similar language.