Decision date: January 9, 2020
This case concerns the calculation of vacation entitlement for part-time and casual employees under Article 17 of the collective agreement. Article 17 requires the Hospital to provide all employees, including part-time and casual employees, with a certain percentage of vacation pay (which increases depending the employee’s continuous years of service), “plus the equivalent time off.” The Hospital’s approach was to provide part-time and casual employees with vacation pay on the basis of all hours worked, and to provide them with “equivalent time off” from any regularly scheduled assignments, but not to provide scheduled time off from hours worked on a casual basis. The Union argued that this violated the Article 17 obligation to provide all employees with “the equivalent time off.” For its part, Hospital maintained that part-time employees could take the “equivalent time off” simply by choosing to not make themselves available for work. Arbitrator Albertyn agreed with the Hospital.
The Arbitrator found that the phrase “equivalent time off” referred to the time off received by a full-time employee, such that employees who have attained the same service threshold are entitled to the same time off for vacation. If part-time employees who work beyond their commitment were to take their vacation-earned time off during the year in which it accrues, then this would distort their equivalency with full-time employees of the same service. It would also render unpredictable the amount of vacation time available to part-time employees in a given year, as the amount of available time off would be driven not simply by the employee’s years of continuous service, but instead by an amalgam of service and the number of hours that the employee worked in that year. Further, an employee whose classification offered a greater number of additional hours might then be entitled to greater time off than more senior employees.
In the result, the Arbitrator found that the Hospital’s method of applying Article 17.01 complied with the collective agreement, and the grievance was dismissed.
This case clarifies the application of Article 17.01 to part time and casual employees. While these employees are entitled to vacation pay on the basis of all hours worked, and to “equivalent time off” from any regularly scheduled assignments, they are not entitled to any scheduled time off from hours worked on a casual basis. The Hospital meets the Article 17.01 obligation to provide “equivalent time off” to casual hours worked by allowing the employee to self-allocate non-regularly scheduled days as vacation days. However, the award offers a measure of protection for casual employees who find themselves in a position where their chosen vacation time would cause them to (limited) availability requirement under the local issues appendix. These employees could not be terminated, but would retain their place on the casual list.