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Labour Relations Board (LRB) Dismisses Union Application to Certify Additional Bargaining Unit

In early March, the HEU applied to certify some non-union worksites at Options Community Services Society (Options), a member of CSSEA’s General Services division. The employer was already certified to the BCGEU at a number of other worksites and programs. At the certification hearing held on March 3, 2021, CSSEA, on behalf of the employer, objected to the HEU application to establish an additional bargaining unit at Options. This was not because CSSEA or the employer was resisting unionization but rather because the establishment of an additional bargaining unit and bargaining agent (union) at an already certified employer would contribute to “industrial instability” and potential confusion in the administration of the same sectoral agreement.  

The preference to minimize the number of bargaining units/agents at an employer and instead expand an existing bargaining unit, CSSEA argued, is consistent with LRB law and policy as it developed in other similar sectoral bargaining sectors, such as the health sector, where the LRB had rejected efforts to “proliferate” bargaining units and agents at a single employer. 

However, up until 2019, the LRB had been allowing proliferation of bargaining units/agents when second or third unions applied to represent non-union employees at CSSEA members. The most recent example was at Community Connections Support Services 2 Ltd, where the LRB granted the BCGEU an additional certification despite the UFCW being the incumbent union at the employer. CSSEA appealed this decision to the BC Supreme Court and has been waiting for a hearing date due to Court backlog during the pandemic.…

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June 18, 2021: New Details on Temporary COVID-19 Sick Leave Reimbursement Program for Employers

Further to the June 1, 2021 CSSEA Info, which outlined amendments to the Employment Standards Act (ESA) that includes three days of paid COVID-19-related sick leave for employees who are not entitled to paid sick leave, government has now provided more information on how employers will be reimbursed for sick leave days paid.

As mentioned, the sick leave plans for unionized employees “meet or exceed” the new paid sick leave provisions of the Act, so there is no requirement for CSSEA member employers to apply these provisions to their unionized employees. Furthermore and as previously communicated, the provincial government encourages employers  to voluntarily grant sick leave to unionized employees who are otherwise ineligible for sick leave on the basis set out in the June 1 CSSEA Info, on a temporary basis from May 20, 2021 until December 31, 2021. For non-union employees, the new sick leave provisions form mandatory minimum provincial standards. The funding process for reimbursement of sick leave pay to non-union employees is set out in this government news release.

For CSSEA members who voluntarily grant paid sick leave to unionized employees who are otherwise ineligible for sick leave, the funding process continues to be as set out in the June 1 CSSEA Info. Government and provincial funders anticipate that CSSEA member agencies should be able to accommodate the temporary additional leave obligations within their current annual funding allocations as the incidence of COVID-19-related sickness abates due to extensive vaccination rates across the province. However, if an agency is facing acute operating pressures due to a COVID-19 outbreak or significant costs related to the new ESA COVID-19 paid leave, they are encouraged to discuss their situation directly with their funding ministries or agencies.…

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June 1, 2021: Amendments to the Employment Standards Act - Paid Sick Leave

On May 20, 2021, the provincial government further amended the Employment Standards Act (ESA) to provide employees with up to three days of COVID-19-related paid sick/ /isolation/exposure leave until December 31, 2021. This constitutes new minimum standards for all employees in the province, except those covered by a collective agreement where the sick leave provisions “meet or exceed” this new minimum standard.

The purpose of these changes is to support employees to stay home when feeling ill during the pandemic – consistent with public health advice; to bridge the gap in pay for those employees who qualify for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit; and to enable future paid sick leave days to be established in 2022.

The two key changes are:
1. Temporary paid COVID-19-related leave (section 52.121 added); and
2. Future paid general sick days (section 49.1 amended).…

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May 19, 2021: COVID-19 - Vaccination FAQs

Please note: the following FAQs are provided as of May 19, 2021 and are subject to change based on emerging developments. As there have been many changes to best practices experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, please be sure to check CSSEA’s website on a regular basis to ensure you have access to the most up-to-date information.

Can employers require employees to get vaccinated for COVID-19?

No. Similar to current seasonal influenza prevention policies, employer direction is to be focused on encouragement and education. Public Health is encouraging all British Columbians to learn about the benefits and safety of the vaccine and to consider vaccination to protect themselves and others.

Will I be able to take leave to get my vaccination?

Yes. All employees may take reasonable paid time off, up to 3 hours, to get the COVID-19 vaccine based on recent amendments to the Employment Standards Act (Section 52.13). If requested by the employer, the employee must, as soon as practicable, provide reasonably sufficient proof that the employee is entitled to the leave. The employer, however, cannot request that an employee provide a note from a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner or registered nurse for the purposes of supporting a request for leave under the recently amended Act.

Employees should discuss their need for the leave with as much notice as possible so the employer can consider and address any operational impacts and whether there is a need to explore scheduling alternative vaccination appointments.…

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April 21, 2021: COVID-19 - Employees to be Eligible for Paid Leave to Obtain Vaccination

On April 19, 2021, the provincial government introduced amendments to the Employment Standards Act (ESA) that will provide employees with a paid leave of absence so they can obtain their COVID-19 vaccinations.

Bill 3 provides employees with up to three hours of paid leave to be vaccinated against COVID-19, effective and retroactive to April 19, 2021. It does not provide paid leave for time taken off work to be vaccinated before April 19, 2021.

Scheduling Time Off for Employee Vaccinations

Employers are encouraged to take a reasonable and collaborative approach with employees when scheduling time off for them to receive the COVID-19 vaccines, with the goal of minimizing client service disruptions.…

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April 1, 2021: COVID-19 - Government Expands Job-Protected Leave for Employees

Government has just announced changes to the Employment Standards Regulation that will provide protection against job loss for individuals needing to take time off work to get vaccinated for COVID-19. The change will also include protection against job loss for individuals needing time off to take a dependant family member to get vaccinated. These latest changes stem from government’s March 2020 amendment of the Employment Standards Act, which provided unpaid job-protected leave in various situations in response to the pandemic.

Employees will now also be able to take unpaid job-protected leave if they need to care for other family members due to COVID-19, not just a child or dependent adult as previously defined. In addition, the Regulation will now allow employees with underlying conditions, who are undergoing treatment, or who have contracted another illness that makes them more susceptible to COVID-19 to take the leave. With these changes, BC’s Regulation now fully aligns with the federal Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit. For more information, please consult government’s latest News Release.

Recent PHO Orders

Members are also invited to view a town hall meeting in which Dr. Danièle Behn Smith, Deputy Provincial Health Officer, Indigenous Health, addressed key questions on current Provincial Health Officer Orders. A recording of the meeting can be found here.…

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Arbitrator Dismisses Union Grievance Claiming Higher Reimbursement Rate For Eye Exams

CSSEA received an arbitration award that addressed a sectoral policy grievance filed by the Community Social Services Bargaining Association (the Unions). The Award is binding on all employers and unions covered by CSSEA’s three Collective Agreements.

The policy grievance claimed that the extended health care plan should reimburse employees at 100% of the cost of eye exams rather than the usual 80% payable rate. The Unions made this assertion on the basis of the language found in Article 27.6(c), which was changed in the 2013 round of bargaining.  Since 2013, the clause states that eyeglasses and laser surgery are covered at 80% for claims (up to agreed maximums) but the clause is silent in relation to the percentage payable for eye exams. The unions took this silence to mean that the parties intended eye exams to be payable at 100%.

CSSEA disagreed with this interpretation, asserting that there was no mutual intention revealed in the 2013 round of bargaining to depart from the parties’ historical application of the extended health care plan to pay eligible benefits at 80%.…

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Provincial Travel Advisory and Updated Resources (WorkSafeBC and PPE) - December 14, 2020

The Office of the Provincial Health Officer has advised that, at this time, all non-essential travel should be avoided. A full list of all province-wide PHO restrictions can be found here.

Employers are advised to explore options with employees who voluntarily disclose that they intend to travel outside the region so that a safe return to work can be facilitated. Additionally, employers are encouraged to review the following points when engaging in these discussions before employees leave on vacation:

  1. Make employees aware of the PHO recommendation.
  2. As of writing, there is no public health requirement for individuals to self-isolate after domestic Canadian travel or travel between regions in BC, as there is for individuals returning from international travel. As a result, employer direction to self-isolate would be employer-only required (eg. unless there is a public health direction issued that is applicable to an employee’s specific circumstances). Therefore this will most likely result in an employer having to continue to pay the employee for the duration of any employer-required leave period for self-isolation (see also below).
  3. Vacationing employees may be informed to avoid non-essential domestic or inter-regional travel so that they remain compliant with PHO directions. Pending exceptional circumstances, employers would not be in a position to prohibit employees from travelling, although employee travel may result in consequential actions being taken, as discussed below.
  4. Employees who travel may be encouraged to take additional paid time off upon return from travel (eg. vacation, accrued leaves) to cover for an isolation period upon return to the region. This would require agreement with the employee and ability to schedule additional leaves.
  5. Regardless of when an employee returns to work, current WorkSafeBC COVID-19 health and safety plans require employees to complete a self-assessment prior to entering the workplace and to declare that they are symptom free and not a public health risk.
  6. An employer who remains concerned about a returning employee presenting an elevated risk to individuals served and other staff may consider temporary options such as: the feasibility of the employee working from home with pay, in a separated work space wearing PPE, on shifts where the employee would not have direct contact with others, etc.
  7. If the employee needs to be placed on an unpaid leave, support them in their application for the two week Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB).…

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April 1, 2021 2% General Wage Increase (GWI) and $20M Low Wage Redress (LWR)

CSSEA and CSSBA have agreed on the distribution of the April 1, 2021 Low Wage Redress, effective the first full pay period following April 1, 2021. Wage schedules outlining the hourly wages can be found here.

LWR increases are meant to reduce the difference in pay between Community Social Services jobs and similar jobs in the Health Sector. The LWR has narrowed the gap significantly for all classifications and grid levels and closed the gap completely for some.

In April 2021, Grid 10 classifications at step 4 will be 1.0% away from their equivalent classifications in Health, and many Paraprofessional classifications at Step 4 will fully catch up to their equivalent classifications in Health. Some Paraprofessional classifications will be 11.7% away from their equivalent classifications in Health, owing to the recent changes in the Health Sciences classification system.…

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Nov 20, 2020 - COVID-19: What Employers Need to Know About Latest Provincial Health Officer Order

On November 19, 2020, BC Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued an Order calling for all individuals and places of work to significantly reduce social interactions and travel immediately, until at least December 7, 2020 at midnight.

The latest Order also includes a province-wide mask mandate, meaning employees and clients (excluding children under two and those unable to wear a mask) must wear masks in indoor public and retail spaces (except when eating or drinking), and in workplace common areas, including elevators, hallways, group or break rooms, kitchens and customer counters. Office-based employers should temporarily suspend their efforts to get employees back to their workplace and instead, support work-from-home options wherever possible.

Members are reminded that they should review their COVID-19 Safety Plans and continue to encourage employees to monitor themselves daily and to stay home if they have symptoms. More information on reviewing and updating those plans can be found on WorkSafeBC’s website. Employers should also ensure that their agencies are able to maintain safe physical distancing for both employees and clients.…

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Nov. 16, 2020 - Upcoming Paramedical Services Benefits Improvement

Employers are reminded that, as of April 1, 2021, an important paramedical service benefit improvement will be implemented.

In negotiations leading to the 2019–2022 sectoral collective agreements, the parties had some funding remaining within the Sustainable Negotiations Mandate. In negotiations, priorities for the allocation of these monies were agreed upon, subject to final costings of the priority benefits within available funding. The top 3 priorities were:

  • Removing the $10/visit reimbursement cap for paramedical services under the Extended Health Care Plan, effective April, 1, 2021;
  • Reviewing other enhancements to paramedical services and the Extended Health Care plan, no later than April 1, 2021; and
  • Labour Adjustment Education Fund and funding for health and safety and violence prevention training;…

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Communications Contact

Doris Sun
Director of Communications
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