This case involved a challenge to the Hospital’s practice, when posting notice of a job vacancy, of listing “day/evening/night” or “days/evenings/weekends” as the shift for a position, instead of specifying the actual shift to be worked. The Union argued that this contravened Article 9.05(b) of the Collective Agreement, which provides that the job posting “shall stipulate the … shift.”
The Board of Arbitration, chaired by Christopher Albertyn, allowed the grievance. It found that the “plain language reading of Article 9.05(b) requires that the actual shift to be worked must be posted.” Moreover, by not posting information about the actual shift to be worked, the Hospital was depriving employees of the right to use their seniority to make an informed decision on whether to apply for a position. To quote from the award, “seniority is a fundamental collective agreement right,” and knowing which “shift a vacant job posting is for ensures that all employees across the bargaining unit have an equal opportunity to use their seniority to make an informed decision on whether to apply.”
As a result, the Board declared that Article 9.0S(b) of the collective agreement requires the Hospital to specify the actual shift to be worked in its job postings and directed the Hospital to post the actual shift times of the vacancy.
This award has significant precedential value. In an attempt to avoid accountability for altering shift schedules, many hospitals have adopted the practice of describing shift schedules in overly broad terms. This case should put an end to that practice. More generally, the award acknowledges the importance of scheduling to employee’s personal circumstances, and the value of seniority as “a fundamental collective agreement right” that employees have relied on “to bid on shifts that fit more conveniently with their family and other needs.”