Can You Tell Me?
Listed below are topics of potential interest to our AESES membership. As you work your jobs, you may encounter situations that require clarifying. We hope this information proves useful. Check back often, as we will continue to add material, reproduced from articles that appear in our print newsletters. If you require any further clarification, please do not hesitate to contact the AESES business office.
Employee and Family Assistance Program
As part of the University’s commitment to addressing the complete health of its employees, the Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provides personalized supports for university staff and their families. The 24-hour service can easily be accessed over the phone, through a website, and more recently, a mobile app. Users can receive confidential help, including immediate access to a counsellor through e-counselling or video counselling sessions. Best of all, there is no cost for staff or their immediate family members to access this plan.
The EFAP plan acts as a one-stop solution, offering interactive tools, educational resources and referrals. Financial guidance is provided via advice on issues such as credit and debt management, budgeting, bankruptcy, and financial emergencies. Legal advice covering issues such as separation and divorce, wills and estate planning, custody and child support, real estate, landlord and tenant issues, and civil litigation, can also be provided. Users can learn to achieve well-being, in dealing with stress, depression, anger or life transitions; better manage relationships, including separation and divorce, conflicts, parenting, and elder care; deal with workplace challenges like work-life balance career planning, conflict and bullying and harassment; address addictions; improve physical health with nutrition counselling, identify health conditions, manage symptoms, and create an action plan.
At UM the plan was implemented on January 1, 1991. At the time, AESES was the first and only union at UM to negotiate for an Employee & Family Assistance Program, after noticing that members were regularly requesting benefits coverage for counselling related to problems at work or home. Many private sector companies and a few Canadian universities were already offering similar programs. UW began offering its plan as of January 1, 1993.
In each case the EFAP plan is managed by a third-party provider; LifeWorks at The University of Winnipeg, and Shepell at the University of Manitoba. Experienced and caring professionals help users select the best support option for their unique circumstances, and EFAP use is completely confidential so that no one, including the employer, knows who is accessing the service.
We encourage our members to make the most of this valuable benefit by accessing its resources.
At UW, access LifeWorks via:
- Website: www.lifeworks.com
- Phone: 1-877-207-8833
- Mobile app: LifeWorks
At UM, access Shepell via:
- Website: https://www.shepell.com/en-ca/totalhealthsolutions/yourefap/, or www.workhealthlife.com
- Phone: 1-800-387-4765
- Mobile app: My EAP
Work Responsibility Changes
As a result of the many changes going on within departments over this past year, AESES is deeply concerned that our members are taking on new work, or are being assigned new duties and responsibilities, without formal approval of those responsibilities.
It is important to understand that employees do not normally control which duties or responsibilities are included in any position. Only the appropriate manager or supervisor can approve any changes and bind the employer to any additional compensation that might result from changes on a temporary or permanent basis.
If work comes your way that is significantly different than your position description outlines, you should seek confirmation that this work is legitimately assigned to you (use email to confirm this or request a revised position description). Failure to follow this step could permit the employer to deny any additional compensation that may be appropriate for the new work being carried out.
It is critical for the member to initiate the confirmation of the new or additional duties and responsibilities at the start of any changes to ensure that they are being compensated fairly at all times.
Given the current fiscal environment, it is also not uncommon for department managers or supervisors to raise concerns over the potential costs associated with new duties and responsibilities, where there may be an increase in classification. While this is understandable, it does not form a part of any review process normally. If a revised position description results in a higher classification, then the department has a choice to either pay for the work as outlined, or to eliminate the work from the position and consequently the employee does not perform these tasks. Ultimately, the department can control the classification of a position by including or excluding specific duties and responsibilities from it.
AESES members have the right to use the Classification Review Process, regardless of any department review that might be in process. Members can complete a position description draft, complete the request for classification review form, and send it to the HR consultant they are supported by in the Human Resources Office. Without these steps completed, the position review process is not formally triggered. Delays commonly occur due to improper form completion, when position description drafts are not being completed, or when they are being held up in the department.
Please contact the AESES office if you need assistance with any portion of the process.
At UW, Bereavement Leave is addressed in article 16.7, which states that a full-time continuing employee shall be granted four paid consecutive regular working days’ leave to attend to the death of a parent, parent of spouse, spouse, or child. Three paid days leave will be granted in the case of the death of an employee’s sibling, ward, or any relative who has been residing in the same household. And, in the case of the death of an in-law (other than parent), aunt, uncle, grandparent, or grandchild, an employee will be granted one paid day’s leave.
Where the burial occurs in excess of 225 kms outside of Winnipeg, up to two additional paid days will be provided to accommodate travel.
In all situations, upon request by the employee, these leave days may be separated to coincide with the date of the funeral service, if it is delayed.
In situations where the employee is serving as a pallbearer at a funeral for an individual whose relationship to them is not listed above, they will be granted one paid day of bereavement leave.
For all other employee categories, only those days that the employee was scheduled to work during the leave period will be eligibile for pay.
Much of the coverage at UM is similar, though there are also some notable differences to be aware of. Bereavement Leave is covered under article 18.4 in UM’s Collective Agreement, which states that a regular or project employee shall be granted four paid consecutive regularly scheduled work days leave in the case of the death of a parent, spouse, sibling, child, parent-in-law, or any second-degree relative residing in the same household. One paid day leave will be granted in the case of the death of an employee’s brother-in-law, sister-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandparent or grandchild, or anyone for whom the employee is the primary caregiver.
Again, where the burial occurs outside of the city, the leave may be extended by an additional two paid days.
Where the funeral or service is delayed, the employee will, upon request, be allowed to separate the days of leave to coincide with the date of the funeral service.
All other categories of employees are eligible for unpaid bereavement leave in accordance with the Employment Standards Code of Manitoba.
Scenario 1: My grandfather passed away. I have a lot of family coming in for the funeral and they will be staying with me. Can I ask for a week off to handle all of this?
According to the Collective Agreements at both universities, in this situation a full-time regular employee would be eligible to receive one day of paid bereavement leave for a grandparent, plus two additional unpaid days bereavement leave as per the Employment Standards Code of Manitoba. Any additional time off would be unpaid and granted at the discretion of the employee`s department.
Scenario 2: My cousin passed away. We were as close as siblings. My supervisor says that I have to use holidays to cover the day of the funeral. Why is that
According to the Collective Agreements at both universities, the death of a member`s cousin is not covered under their respective bereavement leave articles. However, the Employment Standards Code of Manitoba grants any employee three days unpaid leave to attend to the death of a family member, also defined as any person whom the employee considers to be like a close relative, whether or not they are related by blood, adoption, marriage, or common-law relationship. So, the employee in this case could take three days unpaid leave, and would not be required to used their holidays to cover this absence. However, they could use vacation time to avoid not being paid for the absence.
Scenario 3: The Employment Standards Code says that I get three days off for bereavement leave when a family member dies. I submitted that on my time card when my mother-in-law died but my supervisor told me I could only have 1 day off. Is this accurate?
In short, no, this is not accurate.
At UW, the Collective Agreement grants full-time continuing employees four paid days leave in the death of a mother-in-law, but other employee categories are only eligibile to be paid for those days they were scheduled to work during the four-day leave period.
At UM, the Collective Agreement grants regular and project employees four paid days leave in the death of a mother-in-law. All other categories of employees would be eligible for three days unpaid leave under the Employment Standards Code.
Out-of-Country University Health Benefits Coverage
Out-of-country emergency care is covered if it is required as a result of a medical emergency arising while the person is outside Canada for vacation, business, or education and the person is covered by the government health plan in their home province. A medical emergency is a sudden, unexpected injury or an acute episode of disease and does not apply to pre-existing conditions (additional travel insurance is recommended in these cases). Each claim for benefits is individually assessed by the insurance company, based on the severity of the incident.
For full-time employees at UM, reimbursement for emergency expenses involve in-hospital benefits and emergency ambulance services being reimbursed at 100%, while out-of-hospital benefits are reimbursed at 80%, until $500 in benefits has been paid in a policy year and 100% for the remainder of the policy year.
For part-time employees at UM, reimbursement for emergency expenses involve in-hospital benefits and emergency ambulance services being reimbursed at 70%, while out-of-hospital benefits are reimbursed at 55%, until $500 in benefits has been paid in a policy year and 70% for the remainder of the policy year.
For both employee groups, coverage amounts for in- and out-of-hospital benefits are unlimited.
Additionally, Global Medical Assistance is covered if it is required as a result of a medical emergency arising while the person is traveling and the person is covered by the government health plan in their home province. Assistance is provided through a worldwide communications network that operates 24 hours a day. The network assists in locating medical care and in obtaining prior approval of covered services. The network can also approve on-site hospital payment when required for admission, to a maximum of $1,000. Coverage for travel within Canada is limited to emergencies arising more than 500 kilometres from the person’s home.
For a full list of what situations are or aren’t covered, please refer to UM’s Human Resources Staff Benefits webpage.
At UW, the Travel Health Plan is covered under Flex Options 1, 2, 3 and 4. The Travel Health Plan protects signed up employees, as well as their eligible family members from unexpected emergency health care costs, if required outside Manitoba.
Subject to exclusions and limitations, this plan covers 100% of expenses related to: hospital in-patient and out-patient charges for services and supplies; medical and surgical charges for services provided by a legally qualified physician; ambulance charges for service from the place of illness or accident to the nearest hospital capable of providing appropriate treatment; economy air transportation by stretcher if the patient has received treatment at a hospital as an in-patient; charges for dental care service to natural teeth when necessitated by a direct accidental blow to the mouth only, and not by an object wittingly or unwittingly placed in the mouth; charges for the treatment for emergency relief of dental pain to a maximum of $300; in the event of loss of life, up to $5,000 towards the cost of transporting a deceased subscriber to the home city in Canada or for cremation or burial at place of death; blood and blood plasma if not available free of charge.
Additionally, the International Travel Assistance service offers 24-hour worldwide assistance to travelers in emergency medical situations. Insured travelers, physicians or hospitals are expected to contact the International Travel Assistance provider immediately in all situations where medical services are required.
For a full list of what situations are or aren’t covered, please refer to UW’s Human Resources Health Benefits webpage.
Again, please be aware that the Universities’ plans may not cover all emergency situations or pre-existing conditions. If you have travel plans, you are encouraged to review your health coverage plan and/or contact your university’s Staff Benefits team to enquire whether you may require additional out-of-country health coverage.
The Classification Review Process
Contained within each Collective Agreement is an article dealing with requests for classification reviews (see 25.5 at UM and 23.3 at UW). Members at both universities can initiate a review of their position’s classification; no managerial approval is required to start this process.
Members simply need to send a draft job description to their Human Resources department, along with a signed and dated Request for Classification Review form. This form can be downloaded from HR’s webpage. A copy of each of these documents should also be submitted to the member’s Supervisor.
It is important to sign and date the Request for Classification Review form, as the date of the earliest signature on the form will be used to calculate any back pay if the position is reclassified upwards.
Remember, AESES members don’t have to wait for the University to begin a classification review process of their position. All members are encouraged to take advantage of this provision to ensure their job description is up-to-date and that there is minimal delay in the inclusion of significant new duties.
Please contact the AESES office for assistance with writing your job description.
Attendance Management Programs
What is an Attendance Management Program?
Attendance includes being at the workplace on time when scheduled to be at work, including break times.
Alternately, absences refer to any time an employee who is scheduled to work, is not at work. Some absences are non-culpable, where they result from factors outside of the control of the employee, such as illness or injury. An employee should always promptly report any illness or injury to their manager in accordance with the Collective Agreement and subsequently maintain regular contact to provide information on the expected duration of absence and a possible return-to-work date, if known.
Culpable absenteeism refers to lates or absences for which the employee should be held responsible because the problems are within the employee’s power to address and correct. Four key types of potentially culpable absenteeism are lateness/leaving early; failure to notify; absence without leave; and abuse of sick leave.
Attendance Management Programs track employee absenteeism from their workplace over a set time period, looking for patterns and unexplained absences. Being placed in a program is non-disciplinary in nature.
The University of Winnipeg doesn’t employ a formal program. However, they have begun paying particular attention to instances where an employee’s absences exceed the University average. In these cases an initial meeting may be called, with HR and the supervisor present, to determine if there are any underlying issues that need to be dealt with, and to lay out attendance expectations for the employee going forward. As this is a non-disciplinary meeting, the employee is not usually entitled to have union representation at the meeting.
At the University of Manitoba an Attendance Management Program has already been in effect for the past number of years. Its purpose is to encourage and promote attendance in a manner that strikes a balance between the needs of the University and individual employees. According to their policy, the University believes that although attendance management is the responsibility of all parties (University, supervisor, employee), every employee has a contractual obligation to attend work as part of their job requirements.
At UM, where an attendance concern has been identified, the following corrective action steps will be followed:
STEP 1 – Informal Attendance Review – Where attendance suggests an emerging absenteeism problem, the supervisor will conduct an informal interview with the employee. The meeting will serve to identify attendance concerns, determine what has caused the absences and if they are culpable or not, discuss available resources, and provide expectations for improvement.
Where absences are culpable in nature, the employee is not eligible for pay for the time not worked and the basic principles of progressive discipline will be administered. But where absences are non-culpable in nature, the university may request medical documentation, explore the possibility of reasonable accommodation, inform the employee of other options available to them (for example, a leave of absence, reduction in hours, move to casual status).
STEP 2 – Attendance Review Meeting – Following a consultation with HR, the supervisor will meet with the employee to discuss the absences. The employee is entitled to bring along a union representative. The meeting will serve to review the employee’s attendance record, allow the employee to discuss the situation, determine if the absences are culpable or not, identify attendance expectations and improvements, restate available resources, inform the employee that their attendance will continue to be monitored and if attendance issues persist, further action may be warranted.
STEP 3 – Attendance Management Meeting – This meeting is held when the employee’s attendance has not improved following previous meetings. Following a consultation with HR, participants will include the supervisor, employee, HR representative, and union representative if requested. The meeting will serve to follow up on items discussed at the previous meeting, state that the employee’s attendance remains unacceptable, seek a further response from the employee, determine if the absences are culpable or not, reinforce attendance requirements, and finally identify a specific course of action to be taken and possible consequences. The discussion and meeting outcome will be documented in a letter to the employee.
STEP 4 – Attendance Management Hearing – This hearing is held if absenteeism continues to be excessive following previous meetings and it appears that the absences are non-culpable. The supervisor must consult with HR before holding this meeting. Meeting participants will include the supervisor, employee, HR representative, and union representative if requested. The meeting will serve to review the employee’s attendance record, summarize previous attempts to resolve the issue, explain the impact the absenteeism is having on the employee, co-workers and the organization, give the employee an opportunity to respond, determine if the absences are culpable or not, and determine if there is any indication that attendance will improve in the future. If yes, the employee will be advised of their last chance to show that they can attend work regularly, but if not, they will be advised that other options may be pursued, including potentially non-disciplinary termination. Again, the discussion and meeting outcome will be documented in a letter to the employee.
Employees are encouraged to contact the AESES union office, if they require advice related to attendance management.
When are Medical Notes Required by the Employer?
When an employee is ill, it is their responsibility to alert their supervisor of their absence at the earliest opportunity, preferably by phone. If the supervisor can’t be reached, then the department or Human Resources office should be alerted. As noted in the AESES Collective Agreements, if the sickness is of some duration, it is also important that the employee keep in regular contact with their supervisor. If proper notification does not take place, this could be viewed as an unauthorized absence by the university and pay could be withheld accordingly for missed days of work.
Generally a medical certificate is not required for brief absences due to illness or injury. Where the illness is of a longer duration, or if the absence is dubious, the employer has the right to request a medical note from the employee. The requested medical note will need to be submitted within a reasonable amount of time and must contain basic information such as the dates on which the employee was unable to attend work, the pertinent details relating to the sickness or injury and, in the case of an absence for a lengthy duration, a prognosis as to the expected date of return to work.
In the event that the employer is not satisfied with the information contained in the initial medical note, or requires clarification, the employer may request additional information via a supplementary medical note, consisting of a form supplied by the employer that your doctor will need to fill out.
It is important to point out that in contrast to the initial medical note that requires only basic information, subsequent medical notes may require more detailed information, in particular where workplace accommodations are being recommended to facilitate a return to work. It is therefore imperative to emphasize that this additional information should not be provided before it is appropriate to do so.
In cases where long-term or frequent sick leave claims take place, the employer may require a second medical opinion, by having the employee take part in an independent medical examination with a doctor appointed through the employer. The cost of obtaining a second medical opinion is covered by the employer.
Additionally at UW, in cases of misuse or frequent use of sick leave, the employer may require that a medical certificate be provided for any and all future cases of sick leave/illness, for a period up to six months and, if needed, this may be extended for an additional six months.
Who needs to see the information contained in the medical note?
Employees often find it confusing and are unsure as to whom they should submit their medical note, wanting to do what is required of them and at the same time keeping their health information private. AESES advises its members to submit their medical certificates directly to Human Resources, as it is the responsibility of HR to maintain confidentiality of the information received, in keeping with the Personal Health Information Act. At UW medical notes should be sent to the Benefits Administrator, Ronda Perinot, and at UM they should be sent to the Disability Case Coordinator in HR, Bryan Wiebe. In turn, HR would pass only the necessary information on to the employee’s supervisor, alerting them to the fact that the note has been received and any planning related impact, including possible restrictions or accommodations.
Employees are encouraged to contact the AESES union office, if they have any concerns or require advice related to absences or medical notes.
The Discipline Process
The discipline process at both campuses consists of four formal steps. They must be successively followed as outlined in Article 9 of each Collective Agreement, in order for discipline to take place (except for just cause). The discipline process steps include:
1. Oral Warning – the University is required to notify the employee in advance that an Oral Warning will be taking place. This meeting is intended to clarify the issue of concern and outline any remedial steps for resolving it. The University will then summarize the meeting in writing. This will be placed in the employee`s personnel file for six months. A difference to note is that at UW union representation is permitted during an Oral Warning meeting, whereas at UM it is not.
2. Letter of Warning – if the previous issue is not resolved, or another issue presents itself while an Oral Warning is in effect, then a formal Letter of Warning shall be issued. Again, the University is required to notify the employee in advance that a meeting to discuss the disciplinary action will take place. Union representation is permitted. The letter will be placed in the employee`s personnel file for six months.
3. Suspension – if the previous issue is not resolved or another issue presents itself while a Letter of Warning is in effect, then an employee may be suspended without pay for up to three days. The Suspension will be confirmed in writing, which will be placed in the employee`s personnel file for a period of 24 months at UW and indefinitely at UM.
4. Dismissal – if the issues dealt with in the previous steps are not resolved, or if another issue presents itself following a Suspension, then an employee may be dismissed within 24 months of the Suspension. The dismissal will be confirmed in writing. An Employee who is suspended or dismissed shall not require advance notice of this action.
If the employee feels any disciplinary proceeding is unjust, he/she should contact the AESES office at their earliest opportunity to begin the grievance process. This needs to be done within 20 days of the event being grieved, as a deadline exists for a grievance to be filed.
The hours of work for AESES members are 7 hours per day and 35 hours per week. Any variation to these hours (i.e. 37.5 or 40 hours) exists only by special agreement between AESES and the University.
Any time worked by an AESES member that is over and above their regular full-time hours of work (i.e. more than 7 hours in one day or 35 hours in one week) is considered overtime.
Overtime is paid at a rate of 2x the employee’s hourly rate of pay for all overtime hours worked. But importantly, overtime must be authorized in advance by the University. This means the employee’s direct supervisor, department head or director needs to give their approval, preferably in writing, before the overtime hours are worked. If no pre-authorization is granted, then the hours will not be recognized as overtime, except in emergency situations.
It is important to note that no employee is required to work in excess of their regular full-time hours unless it is authorized. This includes no need to work through coffee breaks or lunch hours. You are being paid for 35 hours per week, so you should be working 35 hours per week. Extra time deserves extra compensation. Refusing to work extra time without being paid overtime is your right, and there can be no disciplinary action or reprimand by the Employer.
The default for earned overtime is for the employee to be paid for the time worked. Only if an employee elects to bank their overtime for time off at a later date, and their supervisor agrees, can that happen. If an employee does not wish to bank the time, they must be paid.
The Collective Agreement does provide for another situation, the exchange of extra time worked for time off at a straight time rate (1 hour for 1 hour). This can occur only at the request of the employee, and requires the agreement of the University. Under no circumstance can your supervisor, manager or director suggest or require this type of straight time exchange.
Please call or e-mail AESES for further clarification or if you are experiencing difficulty with an overtime situation.
Contained within each Collective Agreement is an article dealing with requests for classification reviews. Members at both the UM and the UW can initiate a review of their position’s classification; no prior managerial approval is required.
Members simply need to send a draft job description to their Human Resources department, along with a signed and dated Request for Classification Review form. This form can be downloaded from the HR webpage. A copy of each of these documents should also be submitted to the member’s Supervisor.
It is important to sign and date the Request for Classification Review form, as the date of the earliest signature on the form will be used to calculate any back pay if the position is reclassified upwards.
Remember, you don’t have to wait for the employer to begin the classification review process. AESES strongly urges all members to take advantage of this provision to ensure their job descriptions are up-to-date and there is minimal delay in the inclusion of significant new duties.
Please call or e-mail AESES for further information or assistance with writing your job description.
Excessive Employee Workloads
In the fall, AESES sent out a survey to our UWinnipeg members, seeking proposals and input for the eventual bargaining process with the University. Among the comments submitted by participants were a number of questions about excessive employee workloads.
A Letter of Understanding was entered into between AESES and The University of Winnipeg during the 2011 round of bargaining regarding exactly this topic. The LOU states:
The parties acknowledge the desire and responsibility of employees to perform at an effective and productive level. The parties further acknowledge the importance of providing a mechanism for employees to voice concern without fear of retaliation or reprisal if they perceive that their ability to fulfill this desire and responsibility is hampered by an excessive workload. In that regard, the parties agree as follows:
1. If a concern regarding excessive workload arises, the Employee should first discuss the concern with his/her supervisor who shall attempt to resolve the matter either on their own or through discussion with the appropriate senior manager;
2. If the Employee’s concern remains unresolved, the Employee should contact AESES and should it be required the matter shall thereafter be discussed in a timely manner between AESES and the Human Resources Department. If the parties are of the view that the concern is a reasonable one which is likely to remain in effect for a significant period of time, the parties agree to discuss and consider possible options to assist the Employer in efforts to resolve the concern;
3. It is agreed that there shall be no retaliation by the Employer against an Employee by virtue of the fact that the Employee has raised a concern regarding workload in accordance with this Letter of Understanding; …
Similar wording exists as part of the AESES-University of Manitoba Collective Agreement. If you perceive an issue with your workload, please contact the AESES office at 204-949-5200 for assistance.