Cautions and Caveats About Taking Leaves Part II: Unpaid Leaves & Benefit Coverage
By Mark Diotte
If you decide to take an unpaid leave of absence, you should know a few things beforehand. One of the most important of these is your obligation to maintain coverage for certain benefits while you are away from KPU.
To avoid unforeseen complications, you should consult with a KFA Table Officer before taking an unpaid leave of absence. Please also read Panteli Tritchew’s Cautions and Caveats About Taking Leaves Part I which outlines several types of leaves and the implications for seniority, FTE service, compensation, pension, and continuing benefit coverage.
Leaves without Pay—Do I still have to pay for benefits?
In short, the answer to the above question is, yes, you will have to pay for at least some benefits while on an unpaid leave of absence.
Benefit coverage on a leave without pay can be broken down into two groups: those which are mandatory during an unpaid leave of absence and those which a faculty member may opt out of:
- Mandatory benefits: Group Life Insurance, Accidental Death & Dismemberment, Short-Term Disability, and Long Term Disability
- Benefits which can be opted out of: Extended Health & Dental
What does this mean to you?
Practically speaking, this means that if you choose to go on an unpaid leave, you must pay both the employer’s share and your share of the benefit costs for Group Life Insurance, Accidental Death & Dismemberment, Short-Term Disability, and Long Term Disability. If you wish to retain Extended Health & Dental benefits, then you will also need to pay your portion and the employer’s portion for these benefits. In the case of a partial leave, your portion is prorated.
The total cost for benefits during an unpaid leave of absence may be several thousand dollars or more depending on your situation.
Where can I find this information in the Collective Agreement?
The first relevant part of the Collective Agreement is Article 13 – Leaves.
As per Article 13.01 (c)
An employee on unpaid leave may arrange to pay the costs required to maintain benefit coverage in accordance with the provisions of this agreement.
While the phrase “may arrange” makes it sound like all benefits can be either maintained or opted out of, the phrase “in accordance with the provisions of this agreement” means that there are other relevant provisions in play.
Article 13.05 (d) also states that while
“No benefits shall be payable by the employer for faculty members on leave without pay…[i]f a faculty member proceeding on leave without pay makes a prior payment to the Employer of both the faculty member’s share and the Employer’s share…the Employer shall remit these payments to ensure continuous coverage….”
In other words, if you go on an unpaid leave, you are able pay for both the faculty member and employer share of the plan cost to continue your coverage so that you will have benefit coverage while you are away.
That sounds great, but I won’t be receiving a salary, so can I opt out?
The question of opting out takes us back to the phrase “in accordance with the provisions of this agreement.” In the case of benefits, most of these provisions can be found in Article 15 – Health and Welfare.
As per Article 15.02 (a) Group Life and Accidental Death and Dismemberment:
“[p]articipation in this plan is a condition of employment.”
This means that as long as you are employed by KPU, you cannot opt out of this plan—the Life Insurance and Accidental Death and Dismemberment benefits.
Likewise, as per Article 15.06 Disability Benefits
(e) Coverage is by means of a policy issued by the insurance company and benefits will be paid in accordance with the schedule of benefits listed in the insurance carrier’s plan and are subject to the limitation specified in the plan including eligibility requirement.
In short, all members are subject to the eligibility limitations of the Manulife Plan. As per a 2016 addendum to the Manulife Plan, the General Provisions for Disability plans under “eligibility” state that
“Coverage in the plan is a condition of employment.”
This statement means that enrollment in Disability coverage (short or long) is mandatory and faculty cannot opt out of this plan during an unpaid leave.
What about extended health and dental?
Extended health and dental benefits are not conditions of employment at KPU and may be opted out of during a leave of absence. However, we recommend that you continue your coverage because it may be difficult to re-enroll, and you may be required to participate in a medical evaluation and could be denied by Manulife. There is no guarantee that you will be able to resume these benefits upon your return to work if you choose to opt out of them.
What should I do?
Before you apply for an unpaid leave of absence, please connect with a KFA Table Officer. Make sure you also connect directly with Human Resources at KPU—your Dean’s Office may not have the most up-to-date information. In other words, protect yourself in advance by learning about the cautions and caveats about taking leaves.
If you have any questions or comments about this topic, please contact the KFA.
Updated August 2021
What’s the difference between an NR1 and an NR2 appointment?
By Romy Kozak, Past KFA Member-at-Large
NR2 appointments are generally preferable to NR1 appointments in employment terms: they guarantee at least 50% annualized workload and include vacation, PD time, and benefits such as extended health and dental. If you have any questions about the differences between NR1 and NR2 contracts, contact a KFA representative for further information.
Here’s a detailed summary of the differences between NR1 and NR2 contracts:
|Permitted only “for specialized requirements, experimental offerings, timetabling anomalies, substitution, vacation replacement, short-term emergencies, work that is not expected to be ongoing” or workload that does not meet the NR2 threshold (50% annualized) (CA 1.05 d. i.)||Issued when there is a reasonable expectation of at least 50% workload (e.g. four 3-credit courses, or equivalent number of weeks) in forthcoming year (assessed as of August 1)|
|A search process per Article 4.04 occurs to add faculty to the Qualified Faculty List; the Dean then appoints faculty to specific courses from this list||A search process per Article 4.02 typically occurs for each appointment (searches for multiple positions may be combined)|
|Contract issued for one term (or less), specifying course(s) to be taught||Letter of appointment for one year, specifying percentage of appointment (any increment between 50% and 100%)|
|As of September 1, 2020, all NR1s are paid according to the Article 10 salary scale, factoring in individual faculty member’s previous relevant work experience and degrees||Paid according to the Article 9 salary scale, factoring in individual faculty member’s previous relevant work experience and degrees|
|Pension contributions are optional for NR1 contracts unless the faculty member is already contributing to the College Pension Plan through another institution. To waive or enroll, contact your Dean’s Office for the relevant forms and advice.||Pension contributions are mandatory for 100% NR2 contracts and NR2 contracts in excess of 50% of the YMPE in a calendar year.|
|Additional NR1 contracts may be issued, and if these result in a 50% or greater annualized workload (September to August), faculty are entitled to receive a 32% ‘top-up’ on all work in that year.||Additional work added later to the initial appointment percentage is paid on salary scale plus 25% for the period in which the additional work is performed as per Article 1.05 d) iii).|
|No benefits; sick leave compensation may be available per Article 15.07||Includes benefits (extended health, dental, short-term illness, long-term disability, accidental death and dismemberment, group life insurance), pro-rated if applicable|
|No vacation or PD time entitlements||Includes vacation and PD time entitlements, pro-rated if applicable|
|Limited access to PD funds.||Full access to divisional PD funds. Other PD funds may be limited due to the limited length of the contract.|
|Service expected as per Article 12.01 Normal Duties (e.g. department, Faculty, University committees). Service work is pro-rated to amount worked per semester.||Service expected as per Article 12.01 Normal Duties (e.g. department, Faculty, University committees). Service work is pro-rated to amount worked per semester.|
|Both NR1 and NR2 work fulfills the requirements for regularization as per Article 1.05 (e). Please see this article for more information on regularization.||
Both NR1 and NR2 work fulfills the requirements for regularization as per Article 1.05 (e). Please see this article for more information on regularization.
NR2 appointments are generally preferable to NR1 appointments in employment terms: they guarantee at least 50% annualized workload and include vacation, PD time, and benefits such as extended health and dental. If you have any questions about the differences between NR1 and NR2 contracts, contact the KFA for further information.
Updated in October 2021
PD/Vacation Facts for Faculty Members Teaching in Three Semesters
by Diane Walsh, KFA Vice President, Grievances
Scheduling vacation and PD time can be a challenge for those who teach in all three semesters, and even knowing what the parameters are for doing this can be a challenge. The provisions in our Collective Agreement around vacation and PD time are found in Article 12, and there is some language for faculty members who teach in all three semesters.
Article 12.12 (e) addresses a faculty member who “voluntarily elects to teach in three semesters,” and for these members, “vacation time will be scheduled intermittently throughout the academic year, taking operational requirements into account.” Article 12.12 (a) says that vacation days “are intended to be 24-hour days free from scheduled contact hours; however, faculty may choose to take partial vacation days.”
12.01 (a) states that faculty are accountable for 10 months of the year, but this doesn’t mean that the two months of non-accountable time must be continuous. 12.01 (d) states faculty are assured of 21 days PD time, and 12.01 (e) specifies how faculty members should propose PD activities. Nothing in these articles would preclude a member working in three semesters from being able to schedule PD days throughout the year.
Carryovers can be problematic in that there might be a challenge finding enough days, but that’s a problem for faculty teaching in two semesters as well.
While it can be challenging to schedule, our Collective Agreement language is clear that all faculty members, including those who teach in three semesters, should get their full allotment of vacation and PD time. If there is an issue, then there is provision for the member to carry over their PD and vacation days. Members should note that PD carryovers are *not* normally paid out but are waived if they can’t be taken the following year whereas vacation is normally paid out if it can’t be taken the following year.
(For a somewhat more comprehensive look at PD / vacation provisions in our Agreement, please see the article Vacation and Accountable Time.
Updated in October 2021
What Can We Grieve?
By Diane Walsh, Vice-President, Grievances
The KFA is charged with the responsibility, as representatives of the membership, to defend our working conditions. Filing and pursuing grievances is an important part of that mandate. When there is a difference between treatment of faculty and what we believe is correct according to our employment rights, then we follow the grievance processes under our Collective Agreement.
We can grieve the provisions of our Collective Agreement (of course) and we can also grieve all of our other employment rights, job rights and other rights under the law that are related to employment.
This includes our Employer’s written policy.
This also includes any unwritten workplace practices that have come to be relied upon by faculty members.
This also includes provisions of provincial and federal law that pertain to employment rights, such as the Labour Code, Human Rights legislation and the Charter, and the Employment Standards Act. (Where our rights under the Agreement are superior to the Employment Standards Act, our Agreement supersedes it.)
In summary, we can grieve:
- A direct violation of the Collective Agreement
- A wrong interpretation of the Collective Agreement
- A violation of University Policy
- A violation of past practices
- A violation of law including federal or provincial laws that concern our employment rights
One or more of these must be violated in order for the KFA to be able to file a grievance.
Finally, if there is doubt whether an issue is grievable or not, we consult our professional advisor, our Staff Representative at the FPSE.
Election Season at KPU
By Panteli Tritchew, Member-At-Large
ELECTION SEASON AT KPU
Spring is in the air, and it’s election season at Kwantlen Polytechnic University! While our elections may lack the drama of Sanders versus Clinton or Trump versus Cruz, nonetheless, faculty need to be aware of election requirements arising out of our Collective Agreement.
Specifically, there are four faculty positions referenced in the Collective Agreement which require elections:
- Departmental Search Committee representatives—annual elections
- Departmental Chair position—every 3 years or when vacancy arises
- Departmental Professional Development representatives—every two years
- Faculty Education Leave representatives—every two years
While the transition dates and cycles between incumbents and newcomers vary from department to department and Faculty to Faculty, elections for these positions most typically occur at the end of the “traditional” academic year, in the April, May, and June timeframe(s), but with Kwantlen’s trimester schedule, these election timeframes may well vary.
DEPARTMENTAL SEARCH COMMITTEE REPRESENTATIVES
As per Article 4.02 of the Collective Agreement, Departmental Search Committees perform critical work at KPU. They provide specific expertise on subject and instructional matters, review and assist with the preparation of the job posting(s), review all written applications, compile the interview list, conduct interviews and prepare a short-list with rationale and recommendations for hiring.
Article 4.02 (a) Formation of a Search Committee states that “The Search Committee shall consist of up to 4 members: one designated by the University President or his/her designate and 2 or 3 elected annually by the discipline/program.” (Occasionally, there are special circumstances such that the KFA will grant variances to the composition of the Search Committee.)
As per Article 4.02 (c), all regular and non-regular type 2 faculty members who are part of the discipline(s) are eligible for membership on the Search Committee.
As April, May and June are typically the periods with the heaviest Search Committee activity, departments are encouraged to have clear guidelines regarding the beginning and end of terms for faculty who serve on Search Committee and to conduct elections accordingly.
The roles and responsibilities of Departmental Chairs and Coordinators are too numerous to mention here and fall outside the scope of this article, but needless to say, they perform critical work in maintaining the ongoing operations of faculty departments at KPU.
As per Article 4.05(b) of the Collective Agreement, there are several key points for faculty to be aware of as we come to the end of the academic year:
4.05 (b) Whenever a vacancy arises for a chair it shall be filled by the following process:
(i) all faculty members of the discipline(s) or program(s) or closest related discipline(s) or program(s) shall be eligible to vote for chair;
(ii) all regular faculty members of the discipline(s) or program(s) or closest related discipline(s) or program(s) shall be eligible to be elected as chairs;
(iii) the chair shall be elected for a three-year term;
4.05 (f) A chair or coordinator may serve for a maximum of two consecutive three year terms
With Kwantlen running on what is essentially a trimester basis and the need for an orderly transition from one chair to another chair, it’s important for departments to have clearly defined beginning and end terms for department chairs and to conduct elections accordingly.
The Kwantlen Faculty Association routinely provides one of our Table Officers or elected representatives to act as Chief Election/Returning Officers for departmental chair elections if departments wish. We are pleased to assist with these important elections, so feel free to contact Kyla Rand to arrange for assistance with your departmental chair elections.
DEPARTMENTAL PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT REPRESENTATIVES
Article 16 of the Collective Agreement provides guidelines for the allocation of professional development funds among the eight “groupings” of departments which are closely aligned with Kwantlen’s eight Senate Faculties. Each grouping is required to have a Professional Development Committee. The Professional Development Committee is responsible drawing up guidelines for the disbursement of professional development funds and reviewing faculty applications for the use of such funds.
Article 16 (b) requires that the members of the Professional Development Committee for each group are to be elected in February/March every two years so that the new committee takes effect on April 1, which aligns with the beginning of the new fiscal year. Departments should hold these elections as closely as possible to these dates. One of the elected members is elected as the Professional Development Chairperson.
Article 16 (d) requires that one member of each Professional Development Committee be elected to serve as that group’s representative to the Educational Leave Committee for two academic years.
FACULTY EDUCATIONAL LEAVE REPRESENTATIVES
Our Collective Agreement provides faculty for the opportunity to apply for educational leave. Educational leave is defined as a period of paid leave that allows regular faculty to apply for a period of time (one semester or two semesters) to be freed from their regular duties in order to pursue educational or personal development goals. The provisions regarding educational leave are covered in Article 14.0 of the Collective Agreement.
As per Article 14.18, “The Educational Leave Committee shall be composed of one representative elected from each professional development committee, and the administrator responsible. The elected representatives shall serve for two academic years with half of the members being elected in alternate years. The chairperson of the Committee shall be elected by and from the Committee and shall serve for one calendar year.”
In summary, the Collective Agreement has provisions that both entitle and obligate faculty to hold elections, including
- annual elections for departmental Search Committee representatives, departmental Professional Development representatives, and Faculty Education Leave representatives
- departmental Chair positions, every three years (or as required)
If you have questions about any aspects of the Collective Agreement leave provisions regarding departmental representative election requirements outlined in this article, please feel free to contact me.
Member-At-Large, Kwantlen Faculty Association
This impacts us all: the mysteries of work assignment, de-mystified
By Diane Walsh, VP-Grievances
The assignment of work, especially for non-regular faculty members, can seem like a great mystery, and it is a somewhat complex business. Work assignments are one of the places where the rubber hits the road for faculty members because this is how we make our living and pay our bills. Work assignments are also critical to becoming regularized, an especially important issue for non-regular faculty members. Anxiety about work assignments can become critical, especially in a climate of relative fiscal insecurity in the institution, where we hear administrators talking about finding ways to save money. How work is assigned also determines who shares in the load of departmental and Faculty-level work. The bottom line is there is a lot at stake for all faculty members, regular and non-regular alike, in how work gets assigned.
Our Collective Agreement spells out (in a charmingly dispersed set of paragraphs) how work should be assigned.
Regular Faculty Members
Making our work a lot less precarious is the most important advantage of regularization for faculty members. Regular work is defined in Article 1.05 as ongoing work, so it follows that all ongoing work in the institution should be delivered by regular faculty members. (Please see previous article, “Moving from Non-Regular to Regular Status: Routes to Regularization,” for more on how non-regular faculty members get regularized and how work is defined as ongoing.)
In assignment of work, regular faculty members have the right to ongoing work at their percentage of regularization. For 100% regular faculty members, this is a right to ongoing full time work, and for part-time regular faculty members, this is a right to ongoing work at their designated percentage of regularization.
Part-time regular Faculty Members
For part-time regular faculty members, there is a right to access additional work. Article 4.12(a) says that “when additional non-regular work becomes available within a discipline/program, it shall be offered by the administrator responsible to qualified part-time regular faculty in the discipline/program who want additional work,” and this entitlement applies up to a 100% annual workload.
If you are a part-time regular faculty member who wants more work, but you notice non-regular faculty have been hired in your department, it’s worth an enquiry of the dean to see why you were not offered the work in question.
Non-regular Faculty Members
Non-regular faculty members are defined in Article 1.05(d) as “those that do not hold a regular position or who have not satisfied the requirements for regularization in Article 1.05(e).” There are two types of non-regular faculty members and their work and work assignment is defined differently, but the work of all these faculty members is precarious.
Non-Regular Type 2 (NR2) Faculty Members
Article 1.05(d) ii defines an NR2 member as “one who is assigned or reasonably anticipated to be assigned an annualized workload of 50% or greater for a future 12-month period.” This is achieved by means of “bundling” non-regular work and assigning it to faculty so as to ensure they have at least 50% of an annual load.
Having non-regular work in a department bundled into these NR2 assignments is advantageous for the departments, because, according to 1.05(d)(ii):
A non-regular faculty member who meets the qualifications for Type 2 above has the same rights and obligations as a regular faculty member and is entitled to all benefits provided by this Agreement on a pro-rated basis with the following exceptions (Article 6, and Article 7).
Even though it is generally disadvantageous to have too much non-regular work in a department, if courses are bundled and assigned to faculty so as to create NR2 positions, then these members have the responsibility to attend department meetings, perform service work, and so on.
Employer Obligations to Assign Non-Regular Type 2 Work
Ensuring non-regular work is bundled into NR2 positions is addressed in the same article, 1.05(d)(ii). By August 1, the Employer must have planned the year in advance to anticipate the work available for each department. Deans are obligated to first schedule regularized faculty at their annual workload, then offer additional non-regular work to part-time regular faculty members. At that point they must bundle the remaining non-regular work into NR2 positions, as far as possible.
Furthermore, the article states that replacement of faculty on leave or on long-term disability or alternate duty should be with an NR2 appointment. In other words, this work should not be pieced out on NR1 contracts.
Non-Regular Type 1 (NR1) Faculty Members
An NR1 faculty member is defined in 1.05(d)(i) as one
who is hired for a defined period, to teach specific courses or perform specific work. Non-regular Type 1 faculty may only be hired for specialized requirements, experimental offerings, timetabling anomalies, substitution, vacation replacement, short-term emergency circumstances, work that is not expected to be ongoing or work that does not provide them with an assignment that qualifies for non-regular Type 2 status at the August 1 assessment date. All non-regular Type 1 faculty members will receive salary according to the provisions of Article 10.
In plainer language, the issuing of NR1 contracts should be as rare as possible and should not become the norm. It is clearly disadvantageous for individual faculty members because NR1 faculty members do not have access to benefits or leaves, and they do not get vacation or PD time. NR1 contracts are extremely enticing for administrators to overuse because NR1 contract faculty salary costs only 2/3 the gross dollar amount for a course compared to NR2 or regularized faculty.
It is also disadvantageous to departments to have work contracted as NR1 work because the service obligations of NR1 faculty members are pro-rated. If too many NR1 contracts are issued, heavier and heavier workloads fall on regular and NR2 faculty members.
Where Things Go Amiss
Your KFA office stopped receiving copies of contracts and appointment letters several years ago. Because we no longer receive contracts, we can no longer monitor the contracts for correctness and accuracy. Things can go sideways in a number of ways. The purpose of the following information is so that faculty can be informed and let the KFA know about any problems and errors.
For example, part-time regular faculty might not be offered additional work before non-regular appointments are made. This should not happen in the normal course of events. Another example of incorrect practice is not offering additional work to part-time NR2 faculty members before issuing NR1 contracts. Yet another way in which things can go amiss is failing to offer non-regular work to members who have 2 or more years’ FTE service before offering non-regular work to members with less than 2 years’ FTE service.
A particularly troubling way things can go amiss is the overuse of NR1 contracts. NR1 contracts should be issued only under the very limited circumstances described in the Collective Agreement, and non-regular work must be bundled into NR2 appointments. When this doesn’t happen, there are a number of consequences. First, heavier workloads can fall on regular faculty members and on NR2 faculty members, as described above. Another troubling consequence is the increasing precariousness that practice brings to all faculty because faculty don’t have ongoing work, they are not being paid properly for their work, and they don’t have access to benefits. As a consequence, they don’t have loyalty to the institution or their departments, leading to a number of further consequences for all faculty. Another troubling outcome is that regularization doesn’t happen as it should.
What to Do
It is so important for members, regular and non-regular alike, to bring any anomalies or concerns about NR1, NR2, or 50% regular assignments to our attention. The bottom line is that when more faculty work is precarious, and when the proportion of that precarity increases, we are all harmed—regular and non-regular alike.
If you have questions or concerns about your work assignment or about work assignments in your department, please contact the KFA.
Updated March 2022
Moving from Non-Regular to Regular Status: Routes to Regularization
By Diane Walsh, VP Grievances
The one question KFA non-regular members ask most often is: “How do I become a regular faculty member?” It’s easy to understand why a member would ask this question; less straightforward is the answer to this question.
The meanings of the various statuses
What is a regular position? In Article 1.05 of the Collective Agreement, the different kinds of status are defined. In 1.05(a), a regular position is defined as “one that exists or is established to meet the ongoing needs of the Employer on a half-time basis or greater basis.” The Collective Agreement, in 1.05(f) Employment, says, “A regular faculty member, after successful completion of the probationary period, will be offered continuous employment subject only to those terms and conditions as may be contained in the Collective Agreement.”
So, a regular faculty position is an ongoing position that provides continuous employment to the faculty member. The securing of regular faculty status thus provides some measure of stability and job security, as well as the enjoyment of all of the rights and benefits described in the Collective Agreement.
A regular position may be full time, 100% workload, or part-time, at least 50% of a workload up to anything less than 100%. The status is the same for part-time regular positions, but of course the commitment to provide ongoing and continuous employment is limited to the percentage at which the faculty member is regularized.
What is a non-regular position? “Non-regular faculty members are those that do not hold a regular position or who have not satisfied the requirements for regularization in Article 1.05(e),” according to article 1.05(d). The section “Regularization processes” below includes a discussion of the requirements for regularization.
Article 1.05(d) defines these non-regular positions further as Non-Regular Type 1 and Non-Regular Type 2. These are generally referred to as NR1 and NR2 positions. An NR2 faculty member is one “who is assigned or reasonably anticipated to be assigned an annualized workload of 50% or greater for a future 12-month period.” An NR1 faculty member’s work falls outside the annual workload provisions described for NR2 and “may only be hired for specialized requirements, experimental offerings, timetabling anomalies, substitution, vacation replacement, short-term emergency circumstances, [or] work that is not expected to be ongoing.” For both NR1 and NR2 positions, there is no expectation of continuing employment past the end of the specified contract end date. For more details about the differences between NR1 and NR2 contacts, please click here.
Changes from non-regular to regular status generally occur in two main ways. A non-regular faculty member can make application for a posted regular position, and as the successful candidate for the position, they become a regular faculty member. This is the simplest route to regularization.
Meeting the requirements described in Article 1.05(e), Entitlement to Conversion to Regular Status, is the other main way a non-regular faculty member can achieve regular status. The basic requirement is that the faculty member has worked at least 50% of an annualized workload over two consecutive years, that there be a reasonable expectation of ongoing work at a minimum of 50% in the third year, that the faculty member is qualified for the work in question, and that the faculty member’s most recent evaluation is satisfactory. Article 1.05(e) says the regularization “will occur” when these conditions are met.
In addition to achievement of regular status by either being the successful candidate for a posted regular position or being entitled to conversion, 1.05(e) also points out that, “Nothing in the section above prohibits the employer’s rights to regularize any position as it deems necessary,” meaning that the employer can regularize faculty at its discretion outside of the above criteria.
Furthermore, the employer has the discretion to post job vacancies. According to Article 4.02 (j):
In the event a regular position is advertised and the position has been filled by a non-regular type 2 faculty member for two or more years, the non-regular type 2 faculty member who has been filling the position will be given preference over other applicants providing the qualifications, abilities, and experience of the non-regular type 2 faculty member are equal to the other applicant(s).
The takeaway from 4.02 (j) is that all faculty who wish to be regularized or who wish to increase their regularization percentage (for example, from 50% to 100%) should apply for all relevant job vacancies. Click here to access Taleo for postings for current faculty members.
All of these routes are subject to a two-year probationary period, and the details of probation can be found in Article 4.06.
If you have any comments or questions about regularization or faculty status, please contact the KFA.
Updated in October 2021
Vacation and Accountable Time
By Diane Walsh, VP-Grievances
Vacation and accountable time are topics that always seem to generate a lot of questions from faculty members: what are the differences between vacation days and PD days? What is accountable time? How many days of each do I get? How do I report vacation, PD and accountable time? Here’s a basic overview of what the Collective Agreement has to say about vacation and accountable time.
Basic information. Our work as faculty members is complex and encompasses many different and varied activities. Our working time is all considered to be “accountable” time, regardless of what activities we’re performing. PD time and vacation time are both defined in terms of numbers of days. PD time is accountable time, or in other words it is time for which reporting is required, and PD time is specifically set aside for you to engage in activities that you undertake in an effort to develop yourself as a faculty member. Vacation time is non-accountable time, or in other words it is time you are entitled to take and for which no reporting is required.
Accountable Time. Accountable time includes all activities that are part of regular duties, including professional development and other accountable activities. Article 12.01(a) says that faculty members “are accountable for 10 months of the year. The 10 months accountable time includes such activities as teaching, the counselling of students, curriculum/program development, professional development and participation on a variety of educational committees.” The break between Christmas and New Year’s is considered accountable time and does not require attendance on campus for most faculty members (12.16), and Reading Break (12.19) is also considered accountable time.
Entitlements. There are some differences between entitlements for different classifications of faculty. Regular faculty and full time NR2 faculty are entitled to 42 days of vacation under 12.12(a) and 21 days of PD time under 12.01(d). Part-time regular and part-time NR2 faculty members are entitled to the same number of days, but the days will be paid out at the percentage worked. In other words, if you are a 50% regular faculty member, you still get 42 days of vacation pay, but the pay will be at your normal rate, 50% of a full-time salary. NR1 faculty members’ salary is inclusive of vacation pay for the duration of the contract only (usually one semester), and there is no specific designation of numbers of non-teaching days.
Professional Development activities. The Collective Agreement says in 16.03(a) that professional development is “for the maintenance and development of the faculty members’ professional competence and effectiveness. It is agreed that maintenance of currency of subject knowledge, the improvement of performance of faculty duties, and the maintenance and improvement of professional competence, including instructional skills, are the primary professional development activities of faculty members.” Under 12.01(e), the purposes for professional development are described to “include maintaining currency in subject matter, instructional processes, technological developments, learning materials, library holdings and professional skills related to their position with the University.” So any activities that in your estimation reasonably support your “professional competence and effectiveness” as described under the articles can fit within the definition of professional development.
Scheduling vacation time. Faculty who work in different areas will schedule their vacation time in different ways. For faculty who work in areas such as the libraries and counselling, this time will be scheduled in consultation with the administrator responsible and according to guidelines that are to be established in order to ensure continuous coverage. Under 12.12(b), “Employee preferences for vacation schedules will be taken into consideration in those guidelines.” For faculty who work in the semestered teaching areas, vacation normally is taken during the non-teaching semester. If a faculty member “voluntarily elects” to teach over three semesters, then according to 12.12(e) “vacation days will be scheduled intermittently throughout the academic year, taking operational requirements into account.” For faculty who teach in non-semestered teaching areas, vacation will normally be taken during scheduled non-teaching time.
Scheduling PD time. Professional development is included in the description of accountable time activities under 12.01(a), and faculty members are expected to submit an outline of planned PD activities to the appropriate administrator at least a month in advance, and the activities have to be approved, under 12.01(e) and (f).
Scheduling accountable time. Similarly to how PD time is scheduled, accountable time also sometimes needs to be planned and approved in advance, and this is described in 12.01(b). For accountable time activities that will last longer than four consecutive days and that cover duties other than teaching or PD, faculty members are expected to submit an activity plan for approval.
Carryovers of vacation or PD time. Sometimes, there could be a situation in which a faculty member would be requested to carry over part of her or his vacation and/or PD entitlements. Please note that in either case, carryovers are based on the needs of the Employer. Note also that faculty members are not obligated to agree to such a carryover. In the case of PD time, the Collective Agreement says in 12.01(h) that “[i]f the needs of the Employer demand and if the Employer in writing requests him/her to do so, a faculty member may carry over a portion of his/her annual professional development time up to a maximum of ten (10) working days for use in the following year, at a time to be agreed upon by the faculty member and the administrator responsible. Such carryover of professional development time shall occur only with the agreement of the faculty member.” In the case of vacation time, the Collective Agreement says in 12.12(c) that “[i]f the needs of the Employer demand and if the Employer in writing requests him/her to do so, a faculty member may carry over a portion of his/her annual vacation up to a maximum of twenty (20) working days for use in the following year, either separately or continuously with his/her regular annual vacation, as may be agreed between the faculty member and the administrator responsible. Such carryover of vacation shall occur only with the agreement of the faculty member.”
NOTE: During the pandemic, requests for Vacation and PD Carryover have been allowed for any faculty members “who had or will have to make the switch to remote delivery since the beginning of the COVID-19 restrictions and until they end,” as per the August 20, 2020 FAQs Regarding Teaching in a Remote Learning Environment. If you have questions, please contact the KFA.
Reporting. Vacation time is not accountable time, so there is of course no need to report. PD time and other accountable time, on the other hand, require reporting. For PD time, there is a responsibility to confirm that the approved activities were undertaken. According to 12.01(g), “[o]n an annual basis, faculty members will confirm completion of approved professional development activities.” For other accountable time, according to 12.01(b), “[o]n an annual basis, the faculty member will submit to the appropriate administrator a written report of their accountable time activities.”
For more details, please take a look at Collective Agreement articles 12.01(a), 12.01 (b), 12.01(e, 12.01(f), 12.01(g), 12.01(h), 12.12(a), 12.12(b), 12.12(c), 12.12(e), 12.16 and 12.19.
Questions? Comments? Please contact us and we’ll be happy to chat with you.
Updated February 2022
By Diane Walsh, VP-Grievances
Two of the purposes of the KFA, according to our Constitution, are to “Protect the welfare, professional interests, and working conditions of its members,” and to “Assist in protecting and enhancing the freedom and quality of teaching, thought, and enquiry within the University.” Sometimes, this protection results in action that takes the form of a grievance. The union also has a legal duty to defend the Collective Agreement, and we do this through the grievance process.
What is a Grievance?
The Collective Agreement says in article 17.02 (a), “A grievance is any complaint relating to the application, operation or alleged violation of this Agreement or any question as to whether any matter is grievable or arbitrable.” So in other words, a grievance is a dispute about the terms of the Collective Agreement and how it is or is not being applied.
Grievance work can take a number of forms. There are grievances having to do with individual members, and these are probably the most common. There are also other kinds of grievances called policy grievances, and these have to do with issues that affect or could affect more than one individual member and might impact policy or process within KPU. There also may be grievances that have the potential to affect the whole system and not just KPU, and we might refer to these as system grievances.
Simply approaching the KFA office with a concern does not mean that you have embarked on a formal grievance process. Grievances can be (and most often are) resolved informally by discussion, and your KFA officers are willing and able to help with informal resolutions. Including informal resolution, there are various steps or stages that grievances can go through and processes that are followed to ensure each complaint is resolved in the most effective way. At all stages, your KFA representatives are here to help you and to ensure that the processes are followed.
“Resolution” of a grievance means that the error, violation, oversight, misunderstanding or whatever was causing the problem has been corrected in a way satisfactory to the parties.
The Grievance Process
Article 17 of our Collective Agreement covers dispute resolution and gives a detailed description of grievance processes starting with informal resolutions and continuing with details of the steps and processes that formal grievances follow. It’s important to keep in mind that the grievance procedure is a dispute resolution procedure, and the point is to try to resolve issues.
Informal resolution is discussed in 17.02(d). An informal resolution can be sought either by discussing the matter directly with the administrator responsible or by approaching the KFA. As the Collective Agreement points out, “[t]he services of the Union Representatives are available to assist in informal resolution of these matters.” So in other words, KFA representatives can and will help facilitate informal resolutions.
The formal process, detailed in 17.02(e), (f) and (g), is engaged when informal resolution has not solved the dispute or when informal resolution isn’t appropriate. Formal grievances follow a series of steps which have explicitly detailed time limits that are meant to ensure resolution takes place as soon as possible within the process. Although the steps are called Step 1, Step 2 and Step 3, they do not necessarily follow from one to another. The differences between the Steps lie chiefly in the level of responsibility of the administrator involved, as discussed below. The steps might be followed in order or they might not, depending on the nature of the grievance. This distinction is necessary because every grievance is unique and the circumstances of each are unique.
The steps of the formal process begin with the Union informing the Employer of the details of the dispute, in writing. “The written grievance shall cite the articles in question, describe the alleged violation(s), and state the remedy sought,” according to 17.02(e). Step 1 describes the grievance being taken to the administrator directly responsible. If the grievance cannot be resolved with that administrator, 17.02 (f) states the grievance can be taken forward in Step 2 to “a more senior administrator.” At Step 3, 17.02(g), the grievance goes to the University President or their designate. If there is no satisfactory resolution at Step 3, the grievance is referred to arbitration.
The content of the written grievance must “cite the articles in question, describe the alleged violation(s), and state the remedy sought.” Your KFA representatives, usually the KFA VP Grievances, will gather information about exactly what has happened, will identify the relevant articles of the Collective Agreement, and will detail the remedy. Once the written grievance is submitted, the Employer normally has 8 weekdays to reply to grievances submitted at Step 1 and 7 weekdays to reply at Step 2 or 3.
If a grievance goes to arbitration, as covered under 17.03 of the Collective Agreement, this means that the parties could not resolve the grievance and that it will be heard by a third party, the arbitrator. The arbitrator who will hear the matter is either mutually agreed upon by the Employer and the KFA or, if the parties do not agree, then either or both parties can ask the Minister of Labour to appoint an arbitrator. The procedures for arbitration are determined by the Labour Relations Code of BC (17.03(c)). Once a grievance goes to arbitration, the arbitrator has the power and authority to interpret and apply the provisions of the Collective Agreement but does not have authority “to alter, amend, add to or delete from any of the provisions of this Agreement, or make any decision which is inconsistent with the provisions of this Agreement” (17.03(i)). Once a grievance goes to arbitration, both parties lose control of the outcome and the third party, the arbitrator, decides the outcome.
As our Constitution and Bylaws say, we are here to protect the working conditions, welfare and professional interests of the membership. Please contact the KFA if you have any concerns about these matters, or if you have any questions or comments about this article.
Updated February 2022