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Faculty Late Payments, Underpayments, and Correct Pay Calculation

By Diane Walsh, VP Grievances

Hello KFA Members! I hope the fall is progressing nicely for you whether you are in a teaching or non-teaching portion of your schedule.

Late Payments and Underpayments

I have some news to share that may be troubling. It has come to the KFA’s attention that a number of members have been underpaid and/or paid very late for their work. We do have some arbitration settlements or ongoing grievances regarding some of these kinds of errors, and you may or may not have seen or heard the communications about them. I will note them in the descriptions that follow.

Recent Examples

First, here are a few examples of what we have seen recently:

Example 1: The Employer currently is vigorously pursuing the collection of overpayments from faculty members. During the investigation of several of these, the KFA has discovered that, in fact the faculty member has been under-paid, not over-paid.

For this member, the original claim was that NR1 contracts had been incorrectly processed in duplicate and the member had been paid in error. When we investigated, we found that in fact the member had not been paid at all for one of their NR1 contracts, and that contract should have taken them over the 32% top-up threshold. The member is in fact owed money and we are trying to resolve this informally for them but may yet have to file a formal grievance.

Example 2: A member was about to go on maternity leave, but her baby was born early.  She did not inform the Employer immediately that her baby had been born, and she was paid full wages and not placed on maternity leave for one extra day. The Employer sought to recover this one day of pay from her, and when the KFA investigated, we found that she actually had not been paid the 100% normal salary she is entitled to for the first week after the birth of her child, and she also had not yet been paid her Supplemental Employment Benefit (a top-up for members on maternity/parental leave). This was as of September, for a baby born in June. We hope to resolve this informally but we may yet have to file a formal grievance.

Example 3: Another member who the Employer claimed owed them money due to an overpayment was found instead to have been underpaid. The calculations for a non-standard series of courses were incorrect, resulting in the member being underpaid by several thousand dollars. We have tried to resolve this informally but have had to grieve formally, and we expect to get the member compensated correctly.

Example 4: Another member completed a Guided Studies course in April this year, and they noticed they had not been paid as of late July. When they queried, it took until this September to be paid out for it, 5 months later. The unpaid Guided Studies contract inspired the member to check back on all their other Guided Studies courses, and they discovered another that had not been paid, from three years ago. In the words of the member, “Initially HR claimed they had no record of the guided study until I presented the original signed contract, Dean’s approval, screenshot of the CRN and posted final grade. That was also in late July. So…yes, I did have to wait three years. The parts that bother me are lack of apology for the mistake and there seemed to be no rush (5 weeks) to make things right once it was brought to their attention.”

Example 5: Another member, a part-time regular, agreed to take on significant additional workload for their appointment year, September through August, and received a confirmation memo in July for the additional work. They were not paid for the additional work as of the first pay period, and so they queried. They were told that no one in Payroll had time to put it in yet. They heard back from Payroll that it would be processed and paid on the next pay date. That makes their additional pay (if it arrives when promised) over a month late.

Example 6: A member approached the KFA wondering when they would start to be paid for work they were already doing. As it turns out, they had accepted work as an NR1, but nearly a month into actually teaching the course, they still do not have a contract, and have not been paid anything. We are trying to resolve this informally, and we will get the member paid.

There are also a number of formal grievances already in the works for underpayments that appear to be systemic in nature. (Please see details of those below.) But we are aware of what seems like an increasing number of errors like those I have described above around underpayments and overpayments.

You may now be wondering whether your pay is or has been late, or whether it is or has been incorrect. Please check the descriptions below, and if you think you have been underpaid, let us know!

Is my pay late?

There is a clear requirement in law on timelines for paying wages. The Employment Standards Act of BC in section 17 Paydays says “(1) At least semimonthly and within 8 days after the end of the pay period, an employer must pay to an employee all wages earned by the employee in a pay period.” There is not much room for interpretation there, but we are aware of the Employer making statements suggesting that a 5-week lag in pay processing is acceptable. It is not. Neither is it acceptable for anyone to work without a contract because if that is the case, one of the logical consequences is that they will not be paid in a legal time frame for their work. If you have been working without a contract, please let us know.

The KPU payroll cycle is a two-week pay period that then builds in that allowable one-week lag before payday, so that we are all paid one week after the end of the pay period. For example, if you performed some work this week, it falls within the Sept 15 to 30 pay period, and you must be paid out on the October 6 payday. The maximum lag between performance of work and receiving pay might be almost 3 weeks, and certainly it must not more than that. Here is the payroll schedule for 2023 which lays out all the pay periods and the actual pay date for each pay period. You can find the schedules for previous years by searching on the website. Again, you must be paid by the next payday for all pay earned during any given pay period.

Please note there are two slightly unusual situations for faculty. Over-enrollment fees should be paid out at the end of each semester, by December 31 for the Fall semester, April 30 for the Spring semester, and August 31 for the Summer semester. We are aware of many issues with these payments and we have been told it has been corrected, but please do let us know if you are paid after these dates, as that is when the payment has been earned. Guided studies contracts are the second exception, and they are paid out at the completion of the work in the contract, so please let us know if you are not paid on the payday following when you submit the final grade, as that is the date when the payment has been earned.

Is my pay correct?

Please take special note that all or most of the underpayments we have seen so far are related to:

  1. changes in workload, and
  2. changes in the way that overloads and additional work are paid, and
  3. how NR1 work is being paid out.

If you fall into any of these categories, I would urge you to look closely at your pay.

Please see below a relatively thorough set of guidelines for how each different kind of compensated work must be paid. To check and make sure your pay has been correct, first skim the bold titles and find the category or categories below that describe your work. Then, check to see if your pay has been calculated correctly. 

All new faculty members:

Check to make sure your step placement is correct as per Article 9.02 of the Collective Agreement. That lays out the criteria for your placement, and there are often errors in your initial placement. As per 9.03, you have four months to request a reconsideration, after which you will not have your step corrected.

Full-time regular or NR2 faculty:

Your annual pay should match the amounts listed in Article 9.01 of the Collective Agreement for your salary step. Your gross bi-weekly pay as reflected on your pay stub should be 1/26 of your current step. This is a good indication if you are currently being paid at the correct rate. We believe most full-time regular and NR2 faculty are being currently being paid correctly for their normal salary (not some overloads, see below), but I think it’s worth checking.

If you advance on the scale to a higher step (see Article 9.02 for details), then you are paid at the new rate effective the beginning of the first full pay period (you can find the pay period dates here) after you achieve the FTE for the higher step. So, you won’t have a pay period in which you are paid a combination of steps.

General notes re annual salary: If you advance up the salary scale, then your annual salary as reflected on your T4 will be a proportional combination of the two rates for the applicable periods of time. Likewise, when our overall salary rates increase, that increase generally occurs mid-year, so the amount on your T4 should reflect proportionately the applicable periods of time. (In this communication, I am not going to detail how and when this occurred in the past collective agreement periods, but we might provide this explanation in a future communication if people believe it has not been accurately handled for them. If this is so for you, let us know.)

Overload for a full-time regular faculty member who chooses to be paid out:

Note: This is the subject of a current grievance on behalf of all affected faculty members. It will be helpful for us to receive your particular information as part of the evidence, but in the grievance remedies we are asking that all affected members be made whole, or in other words, everyone should be paid everything they should have been paid.

When you choose to be paid out for overloads over 100%, you are paid at the rate for that work for the applicable period of time, plus 25% in lieu of benefits and vacation. Here is the correct calculation:

For a semester-based course overload:

[(Salary step/2/3) / 24] = salary per credit for a single semester

[(Salary per credit x number of course credits) x 1.25] = total salary for the overload.

For example, if you teach a single course overload in a semester and you are at top of the current scale, then it goes like this:

$100 958 / 2/3 = $67 305.33

$67 305.33 / 24 = $2804.39

$2804.39 x 3 = $8413.17

$8413.17 x 1.25 = $10 516.46

The amount the Employer has been paying people for this work is $10,314.24, about $202 short.

Related FYI – You have the right to choose whether to take an overload as payment or as equivalent time in a later semester. Unless you favour receiving some extra money in the short term, it is more advantageous over the long term to take overloads as time. You actually get compensated at your full year-long rate ($12 619.75 per course). Overloads paid out immediately are not pensionable, either, so that also is missing from the compensation. And, you get to teach one fewer section in a future semester of your choice, so that you have a lighter workload. This is entirely *your* choice, however, and that choice is guaranteed in the Collective Agreement. You should not be pressured one way or the other.

For substitution:

The period of time is the number of weeks or part thereof, and salary is paid for that portion of the year.

              [[(Salary / 52) x (number of hours / fulltime hours in mode)] x number of weeks] x 1.25

For example, if you substitute for a colleague for one week, four courses in mode 16, you have effectively taught one additional full-time week. If you are at top of the current scale, your additional pay for that week would be

$100 958 / 52 = $1941.50

 16 hours / mode 16 x 1 week = 1

$1941.50 x 1 = $1941.5 x 1.25 = $2426.88

If you think you have been paid wrongly for substitution work, let us know.

Overload for full-time NR2:

Note: This is the subject of a current ongoing grievance.

In this situation, you are paid exactly the same as for a full-time regular who chooses to be paid out (please see above), and the current practice is wrong for the same reasons. FYI – Because NR2 appointments are for a single year, there is no option to bank the time.

Part-time Regular, additional work two weeks in duration or more:

Part-time regular faculty members must have additional work that is two weeks or longer in duration rolled in to their annualized workload. This was a grievance outcome from several years ago. What this means is that no matter when a part-time regular faculty member is assigned additional courses or other substantial pieces of work, they must be paid for it as if it was always part of their annual workload, up to 100%.

For additional work, the calculation is:

              (Annual salary x workload % including the additional work) = Annual salary

Workload percentage for teaching one 3-credit course is 12.5%. So, for example, if 50% part-time regular agrees to teach an extra section, that means their annualized workload becomes 62.5%. Their salary must be adjusted, retroactively if necessary, to reflect this annual gross salary. Workload percentages for other kinds of courses must also accurately reflect the workload percentage associated with that course.

For additional work less than a full course but the equivalent of two weeks or more full time work, the annualized workload associated with the additional work must be added to the annual salary. One full week of work in each mode is equal to the number of hours in the mode.

For example, in Mode 24, a person teaching 24 contact hours in that mode has taught the equivalent of one full time week of work. In order to have work annualized, a part-time regular must work a total of 48 contact hours in that mode.

Two weeks of full-time work is 3.85% annual workload. The calculation is the same as above, where the additional percentage is added to the annual salary and the faculty member paid on an annual basis for the work.

Additional work taking a Part-time regular over 100% is handled exactly the same way that overloads over 100% are handled for full-time regular members, and should be captured in the same grievance.

Additional work for part-time Regular, less than two weeks:

In this case, the member is calculated in exactly the same way as a 100% regular faculty member for substitution. Please see above.

Additional work for part-time NR2:

This work is paid in exactly the same way as overload for full-time regular and NR2. Please see above.

NR1 work:

Note: No NR1 should receive a workload equivalent to 50% as their initial assignment. (4 three-credit courses or more, 18 weeks’ instruction for trades, 50% equivalent of annual workload for faculty who fall under Article 12.07.) This must be issued as an NR2 annualized appointment, and you must be paid substantially more for that work. If this has happened to you, please let us know, and provide us with copies of your contracts. We have a current grievance on this matter headed for arbitration.

Note also: NR1 contracts are in general being paid incorrectly, and we have a current grievance heading for arbitration on this matter. In the grievance remedies, we are asking that all affected members be made whole, or in other words, paid everything they should have been paid. However, it will be helpful if you fall into this category if you can give us all your contracts as well as copies of your paystubs so that we can show how people have been underpaid.

NR1 pay calculations: We can calculate total payment for NR1s in a number of ways:

On the basis of credits, that would be [(annual salary x 2/3) / 24] x number of course credits.

On the basis of workload percentage, that would be (annual salary x 2/3) x appropriate annualized percentage.

Example 1: We would calculate pay for an NR1 faculty member at top of scale teaching a single 3-credit course at current rates as follows. 

$100 958 x 2/3 = $67 305.33

$67 305.33 / 24 = $2804.39

$2804.39 x 3 = $8413.17 gross

Example 2: We would calculate pay for an NR1 faculty member at top of scale teaching a 75% semester workload, which is equivalent to 37.5% annualized workload, as follows.

$100 958 x 2/3 = $67 305.33

$67 305.33 x 37.5% = $25 329.50 gross

NR1 additional work taking them to 50% annual workload or more:

NR1s who go over the 50% threshold for all of their work between Sept 1 and the following August 31 qualify for a 32% premium on all their work in that time period.

A recent arbitration award has clarified that NR1 faculty members who go over the 50% annualized workload threshold must be paid out for all their work during that period upon assignment of the additional work. This means a retroactive payment is due and payable immediately as of the assignment of work that takes you to or over 50% (4 three-credit courses or more, 18 weeks or more instruction for trades, 50% equivalent of annual workload or more for faculty who fall under Article 12.07.). Or in other words, you should be paid the retro and for your current work at the rate plus 32% as of the next payday after you are assigned the work.

The calculation would be [NR1 normal salary for all workload] x 1.32 = adjusted salary

For example, if a person taught 3 courses in their first semester, like the person in example 2 above, they would be paid the normal NR1 salary for that work. If they were then assigned an additional course in December for the Spring semester, bringing them up to 50% workload, they would be owed the 32% top-up on all their work completed to that point, paid retroactively and to the end of the semester, as of the next payday. In the following semester, they would be paid at the normal NR1 salary rate for that semester plus 32% from the start. If they have additional work in the third semester, it is paid at the normal NR1 salary rate plus 32%. If they have no work in the third semester, they are paid nothing, as NR1s get no paid vacation, and no PD and accountable time.

Course over-enrollment fees:

Pay for this varies and is not included in annual salary calculations. Here’s how it works:

For each over-enrolled course, the faculty member (all faculty members including NR1s, NR2s and regular faculty) should receive $225 per student for each additional student enrolled above the class size limit. Whether there are students over the class size limit is measured the day of the stable enrollment date, which is the day after the add/drop period ends. Payment for over-enrollments occurs in a lump sum, less required statutory deductions, three times per year. Payments will be made by December 31 for the Fall semester, April 30 for the Spring semester, and August 31 for the Summer semester. This is not a late payment.

Guided studies contracts:

You can find the provisions for this under Article 11 in the Collective Agreement.

Here is how they are paid out (largely drawn directly from the article):

Non-regular and regular faculty members who are part-time or who have a full teaching load may accept a Guided Study Course contract or contracts according to the following payment schedule: $200 per credit for first student and $75 per credit for each additional student.

These amounts are payable upon completion of the contract and submission of a final grade. In the case of an “I” grade, payment would be due upon submission of the final grade.

If a student vanishes or withdraws formally before completing the course, the faculty member will receive 50% of the fee. That amount would be payable upon confirmation of withdrawal or if the student just vanishes, at the end of the semester.

Conclusion

I understand this can seem complicated (understatement!), particularly for those of you who do not work with payroll concepts or suchlike things as part of your normal life, but I do hope this information is relatively easy to use. We do want you to be able to find out if you are owed money, or not.

I want to emphasize that if you believe you have been paid incorrectly, or if you have been or are being paid late, or are currently working without a contract, please let us know. In order to get your pay corrected, and for us have the strongest possible set of facts to bring to the Employer to advocate for systemic fixes, we need to know about these errors.

In solidarity,

Diane.

Please note that this was originally circulated as an email in September 2023, and the information contained above will change with each new Collective Agreement. We are posting this email in our Getting to Know Your Collective Agreement section to keep the information handy for our members. It is also posted in the News and Updates section.

KFActs FAQ: About Retirement

By Betty Cunnin, Member-at-Large

At some point, you might decide you’d like to retire from KPU. Retirement is a time of transition that encompasses many career, financial, health, and life decisions. This KFActs FAQ will provide information to help you plan for that special last day. We will also discuss how your age and employment at other BC Universities and Colleges might impact your plans.

You can learn more about retirement and your pension from the College Pension Plan (CPP) and the annual retirement planning workshops offered by the Association of BC College Pension Plan Retirees through the KFA. The KPU Retirees Association also provides helpful retirement resources and occasional workshops.

When can I retire?

In British Columbia, there is no mandatory age of retirement. While you are not eligible to receive your retirement pension until you are at least 55 years old, you can choose to work as long as you can and retire whenever you think it is best for you.

Faculty members who choose to work past the age of 65 face a reduction in some benefits, including but not limited to no access to long-term disability after age 65, and no access to short-term disability benefits after age 70. Furthermore, there are no additional personal or employer CPP contributions to your pension beginning November 30 in the year you turn 71. 

I am ready to retire! Who do I need to tell…and when?

Before retiring and applying for your pension, you must arrange your last day of work, called your effective retirement date, with the Employer to ensure the CPP has the correct information to pay your pension accurately and on time. In addition to reaching out to your KPU Health and Benefits specialist with this information, you may also decide that you would like to communicate your intention to retire, at any time, to your Dean or your chair/colleagues in support of departmental planning.  

If you have accrued and banked vacation over the past few years, please keep in mind that Article 5.02 states that if a faculty member provides anything less than two months’ notice for terminating their employment, the Employer is not obligated to pay out vacation beyond the bare minimum required by the Employment Standards Act. This minimum is much lower than our vacation entitlements in the Collective Agreement.

The CPP states that the earliest you can apply for your pension is 90 days before the beginning of the month you want to begin receiving your pension, and no later than 30 days before your pension effective date.  For most people, the effective date for their pension is the first day following their effective retirement date.

If you apply for your pension with less than 30 days’ notice, there may be gaps in receiving pension payments while you wait for your pension to become effective. For example, if you are thinking of retiring August 31st, making September 1st your effective pension date, the CPP suggests you apply on or after June 3. Your first pension payment will be September 30th, and then the last day of each month going forward.

In order to avoid any delays in receiving your pension benefits, make sure to complete any required paperwork on time.

How much will my retirement income be?

All regular and non-regular faculty who work at KPU at least 50% in one year are mandatorily enrolled into the CPP.  The CPP mails you a statement every year which includes an estimate of your pension at yearly milestones.  You can also perform calculations to estimate the pension you will receive based on assumed retirement dates by accessing your personal online CPP account. At present, the CPP uses the average of the five years of your highest salary to determine your pension. The CPP also provides every enrolled employee an annual statement showing the estimated value of your pension.

BC’s CPP is a defined benefit pension plan. In a defined benefit pension plan, your pension is based on a formula that uses your years of service and your highest average salary, not based on your overall contributions. Every pay period, a portion of your pay goes to the pension plan. Your employer also contributes at the same time.

The following contribution rates have been in effect since April 1, 2019:

  • You contribute 10.24% of your salary
  • Your employer contributes 10.34% of your salary

Basically, the more years of service you accumulate in FTE, and move up the salary steps, the greater your pension. If you retire early, before age 65, your age at retirement and years of contributory service, called the 85 factor, will determine if you are eligible for an unreduced pension.

If you have worked part-time or taken some types of leaves, your service may be reduced. See the CPP regarding options for purchasing this reduced service. It is important to know that when you are ready to retire, and you want to draw income from your pension, you will need to apply for your pension: you will not receive it automatically when you stop working.

What happens to my benefits?

Your KPU employee health care coverage will end one month past your retirement date. You can apply for extended health care and dental coverage through a number of private providers including the CPP, KPU Retirees Association, and Manulife. Each provider has pros and cons in terms of coverage and costs, so be sure to research all of your options in advance of your current benefits expiring. If electing to pay for Manulife’s coverage, be sure to let them know you were a KPU faculty employee.

What if I work at more than one Post-Secondary Institution (PSI) that is enrolled in the CPP?

If you are employed at another post-secondary institution in BC that is also a member of the CPP, and you are entitled to receive retirement benefits at that other workplace, to be eligible to draw on your KPU pension, you must sever your employment relationship for the purpose of retirement at both institutions. Alternatively, if you retire from KPU and choose to defer your pension to a later date, you can continue your active employment at the other institution and contribute to your pension up until November 30 of the year you turn 71.

Can I work at KPU after I retire?

Absolutely! But there are some limitations regarding timing. When applying for your pension, you and the Employer will be required to sign a declaration stating no pre-arranged agreement exists for you to work for KPU after retirement.

In other words, you need to completely sever your employment relationship with KPU for the purpose of retirement in order to be eligible to receive a pension from the CPP.

Article 21 states that you must ask to be placed on the departmental qualified faculty list in order to be offered future NR1 contracts, and many retired faculty return to teach via NR1 contracts. You must do this each year to be considered qualified and to maintain access to your KPU email. Let your Dean, AD, or Divisional Business Manager know that you want to be added to the QFL when you tell them you plan to retire.

What happens to my email address when I retire?

If you want to maintain access to your KPU email address after you retire, let your Dean, AD, or Divisional Business Manager know that you want to be added to the qualified faculty list (QFL) as per Article 21 in the Collective Agreement.

Help! My email address was deleted even though I asked be kept on the QFL!

This happens sometimes when there is a delay in processing some of the paperwork and/or if you let your Dean’s Office know you want to remain on the QFL but don’t provide a lot advanced notice. Don’t worry—your email is not deleted. That being said, let your Dean, AD, or Divisional Business Manager know right away that your email address is not accessible. They should be able to get it up and running again.

What happens to my ID card and office keys when I retire?

This is a bit of grey area at the moment. Some people are asked to return their ID cards right away and some people are not. If you know you plan to return as an NR1 instructor, feel free to ask your Dean’s Office if you can keep your ID card to make your next teaching semester easier. If you are asked to return your ID card and your keys, they should be returned as quickly as possible as these are considered property of KPU. You will need to get your ID card and keys reissued to you if/when you return as an NR1 instructor. Please note that you may be given a desk at a Hotel Office and not the office you had as a regular instructor.

Can I still access the Library when I retire?

Yes, retired faculty may request a special library card that allows access to many resources. Please visit the Library’s website for more details about the Lifetime Borrower Card for Retired Employees.

Am I still a KFA member when I retire?

You are eligible to become a retired member of the Kwantlen Faculty Association (KFA), and the KFA will pay your first year’s dues to your choice of a KPU Retirees Association Membership, membership in the Association of British Columbia CPP Retirees, or membership in BC Forum. Please contact the KFA directly for more information.

Am I eligible for the Early Retirement Incentive mentioned in Article 22.01?

According to this Article, anyone can apply for an early retirement incentive; however, in practice, this incentive has been offered only once (according to the KFA’s historical memory). Sometimes other retirement incentives may be offered under Article 7.10 (d) (v). These are offered to help mitigate layoffs and a general notice will be sent out to your Department or Faculty. It is up to you to indicate your interest in any retirement incentive offered by the university, so be mindful of any deadlines.

Can I draw my pension and work at KPU at the same time?

Yes and no. As explained above, you must sever your employment relationship with KPU for the purpose of retirement in order to receive your pension payments. If you do happen to return as NR1 faculty after retirement, you remain entitled to draw your pension.

If you don’t retire, you should begin to draw your pension as a regular instructor once you turn 71. The College Pension Plan will contact you in the year you turn 71 to let you know. They will encourage you to complete the paperwork required to draw your pension and thus be paid your monthly pension amount. If you do not fill out this paperwork, you will not draw your pension until the paperwork is completed. In order to avoid missing out on your pension benefits, make sure to complete any required paperwork on time.

Can I retire in the middle of my work year or appointment year?

Technically you could retire in the middle of your work or appointment year, but the KFA does not usually recommend this. Depending on the time of the year, KPU may issue you an overpayment for not fulfilling the requirements of your annualized salary. In another scenario, you may be shorted vacation and PD entitlements. It is always preferable to retire at the end of your work/appointment year. You can use your PD and/or accountable time during your non-teaching semester to wrap up any outstanding committee work and clean out your office. If you are unsure if your teaching rotation aligns with your work/appointment year, contact your Dean’s Office or HR and ask them to clarify this for you

I don’t know when my work year or appointment year begins. Will that affect my retirement?

Yes, this could very well affect your retirement. If you are unsure about your work year or appointment year, please contact your Dean’s Office or HR and ask them to clarify this for you. Your teaching rotation may not align with your work/appointment year, especially if you have been teaching at KPU for many years or if your Dean asked you to switch your non-teaching semester. You don’t want to be in a situation where you retire without having earned your vacation or PD nor do you want to be in a situation where you retire without having taken any vacation time or PD time owed to you.

I still have questions and concerns. Who can I talk to?

You can always ask the KFA any questions. Feel free to reach out. You can also always ask the HR Health and Benefits specialist for your area any questions, but we recommend cross-referencing any details with the KFA. In the same way, feel free to reach out to the CPP to ask them questions. The KPU Retirees Association is another fantastic resource as the members have already gone through the same process.

Congratulations if you are retiring! Keep in touch!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KFActs: Accommodations, Short-Term Disability, and Manulife

By Rachelle Hollaway, Member-at-Large

This article will help you understand the role that Manulife plays in some accommodation requests and all Short-Term Disability claims. For general information about 30 days’ sick leave, short-term disability, and long-term disability, please read “What If I Get Sick? Sick Leave, and Short-term and Long-term Disability Leaves.”

Accommodations

You have rights under the British Columbia Human Rights Code for accommodations:

13   (1) A person must not

(a) refuse to employ or refuse to continue to employ a person, or

(b) discriminate against a person regarding employment or any term or condition of employment because of the Indigenous identity, race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, political belief, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or age of that person or because that person has been convicted of a criminal or summary conviction offence that is unrelated to the employment or to the intended employment of that person.

The following is from the BC Human Rights Tribunal:

The Human Rights Code forbids discrimination in employment. Discrimination is poor treatment, based on a personal characteristic. If the person can justify the poor treatment, then there is no discrimination. The Code protects you in employment based on these personal characteristics.

Indigenous Identity  Place of Origin Physical Disability Age
Race Sex Mental Disability  Political Belief
Colour Gender Identity or Expression Marital Status Religion
Ancestry Sexual Orientation Family Status Summary or Criminal Conviction

Employers and others have a duty not to discriminate regarding employment. This includes a duty to take all reasonable steps to avoid a negative effect based on a personal characteristic. This is called the duty to accommodate.

When you request an accommodation, your dean may direct you to KPU’s Health and Benefits division. Health and Benefits may subsequently direct you to Manulife.

As part of the accommodation process, you will be asked to provide information about your situation and the type of accommodation you are requesting. While you are never required to share private medical information with any employer, including KPU, if you are seeking an accommodation, you will need to provide sufficient medical information for the Employer to understand your restrictions and limitations related to your job duties. Health and Benefits may also request Manulife to assist in accommodation requests. In these cases, Manulife will ask your doctor to submit forms that will include diagnoses. Your doctor may be required to submit further diagnostic information and clinical notes.

The KFA has filed a grievance on aspects of the accommodations process. Our goal is that the parties come to an agreement on a legally sound, fair, and dignified accommodations process.

When you initiate the accommodation process, your dean or your Health and Benefits representative may not tell you to contact the KFA. However, it is crucial that you do so. A KFA Table Officer can help you navigate Manulife’s processes. For example, Manulife may contact you to ask how you are doing. This may seem like a friendly conversation to get to know you, but the conversation serves as an intake interview that is cross-referenced against the medical documents submitted by your doctor. A KFA Table Officer can help you understand the purpose of these interactions. If your accommodation is denied, a Table Officer can also help you with the appeals process.

Short Term Disability Benefits

You have access to 30 days of sick leave paid at 100% by KPU. If your medical condition is such that you may be unable to work for longer than 30 days, it is important to begin the application process with Manulife for Short Term Disability coverage within the first two weeks of your 30 days sick leave coverage.

If you indicate to your dean or Health and Benefits representative that you think you will need more than 30 days, and you begin the process of completing the Manulife forms (from yourself and from your doctor), then your Health and Benefits representative will pair you with a KFA representative from the Faculty Joint Rehabilitation Committee (FJRC).

It is very important to meet with your KFA FJRC representative before you talk with Manulife. As mentioned above, your case manager may ask you several questions that seem like a friendly way to get to know you better, but this conversation serves as an intake interview that is cross-refenced against the medical documentation submitted by your doctor. Be sure to ask your KFA faculty rep about how to navigate this intake interview and other paperwork required while applying for Short-Term Disability. This will help reduce the chances that your claim is denied by Manulife. If your claim is denied by Manulife, then your KFA FJRC representative will help you through the appeals process.

The crucial point to remember is that once Manulife is involved, you need to have a union representative help you through the process, whether that be a Table Officer for an accommodation or a KFA Faculty Joint Rehabilitation representative for an application for short-term disability coverage.

If you have any questions about Manulife, sick leaves, or short or long-term disability coverage, please contact the KFA.

KFActs: Working Post-65 and Benefits Coverage

By Rachelle Hollaway, Member-at-Large

It is becoming more common for faculty members to work past the traditional age of retirement. While the majority of benefits remain the same, faculty members who choose to work past the age of 65 face a reduction in some benefits.

The table below is an excerpt from the Faculty Benefit Summary Sheet, found in the Resources section of the KFA website.

As you can see, the sections highlighted in yellow reflect the changes in benefits coverage faculty can expect when they turn 65, 70, and 71.

Life Insurance

At age 65, your life insurance will reduce from 3 x your annual earnings to 1 x your annual earnings up until the termination age of 71. The maximum coverage remains the same.

Accidental Death and Dismemberment

At age 65, your accidental death and dismemberment insurance will reduce from 3 x your annual earnings to 1 x your annual earnings up until the termination age of 71. The maximum coverage remains the same.

The optional insurance plans offered by Manulife also have a termination age of 71.

Sick Leave

All faculty members, regardless of age, are entitled to 30 days of sick leave paid at 100% of your current salary. You may take more than one 30-day period of sick leave for different reasons. For example, if you are in a car accident and you need time to recover, you have access to 30 days. If you then become ill for any other reason outside of the car accident, you have coverage for another thirty days. The Employer may require medical documentation for any sick leave coverage, regardless of your age or medical ailment.

Short-Term Disability

If you think you may be ill for longer than 30 days, and you are under the age of 70, you may apply for short-term disability coverage through Manulife. Short-term disability coverage lasts for up to 21 weeks and is paid at 70% of your current salary. If you turn 70 while collecting short-term disability, your coverage can extend for the full 21 weeks. For example, if the date of disability is March 1, you will become eligible for short-term disability coverage on March 31 (after 30 days of sick leave). If you turn 70 on April 15, and you remain unable to work the entire time, your short-term disability coverage will extend to August 26. If you are unable to return to work on August 27, you have the option of going on a leave without pay until you recover.

If you are over the age of 70 and you become ill, you have the option of going on a leave without pay after your 30 days of sick leave coverage ends.

Long-Term Disability

If you are under the age of 65, you have access to long-term disability coverage after your short-term disability coverage has ended. Long-term disability coverage lasts until you turn 65 and is paid at 70% of your current salary. If you turn 65 while collecting long-term disability payments, your coverage will end at the end of your birthday month. For example, if Manulife is providing long-term disability coverage for you and you turn 65 on April 15, your coverage will end on April 30. If you are unable to return to work on May 1, you have the option of going on a leave without pay until you recover. You may also elect to retire.

For more information about leaves, please read the following:

Cautions and Caveats About Taking Leaves: Part 1

Cautions and Caveats About Taking Leaves: Part II: Unpaid Leaves & Benefit Coverage

 

College Pension Plan

From the College Pension Plan: “If your long-term disability benefits are provided by a group disability plan approved for pension purposes, you will continue to accumulate pensionable and contributory service while you are away from work. In this case, you do not need to buy [back] service. If your long-term disability benefits are provided by a group disability plan not approved for pension purposes, you may be able to buy service when you return to work.” You also continue to accumulate pensionable and contributory service during  a 30-day sick leave and short-term disability leave.

One year of pensionable service adds about 3% to your monthly pension. This amount is not based on the total amount invested in your pension but the number of years of contributory service and your five best years of income during that service.

If you work post-65, you continue to contribute to your pension until November 30 of the year you turn 71. For example, if you turn 71 in May, your contributions to your pension will continue until November 30. You can then draw your pension on December 1 and continue to work. The College Pension Plan will mail information to you regarding the above in the year you turn 71. They will encourage you to complete the paperwork required to draw your pension and thus be paid your monthly pension amount. If you do not fill out this paperwork, you will not draw your pension until the paperwork is completed.

The Future of Post-65 Benefits Coverage

Over the years, the unfair coverage of benefits for those over 65 has been challenged, and the issue has been addressed several times via the courts. In 1992, the issue was brought to the Supreme Court: Zurich Insurance Co. v. Ontario Human Rights Commission. The case established the rights of organizations, businesses, and governments to discriminate based on age categories for reasonable and bona fide rationales of undue hardship. In the case of insurance companies and the Canadian government, short-term and long-term benefits coverage can be denied to those over the age of 65 since providing this coverage would cause “substantial interference with a service provider’s business enterprise” (Council of Canadians with Disabilities v. VIA Rail Canada Inc, 2007 (703)). As cited in Via Rail, 2007, the onus of proving undue hardship falls on the organization involved:

A service provider’s capacity to shift and recover costs throughout its operation will lessen the likelihood that undue hardship will be established: Howard v. University of British Columbia (1993), 18 C.H.R.R. D/353 (B.C.C.H.R.). Other relevant factors include the impact and availability of external funding, including tax deductions (Brock v. Tarrant Film Factory Ltd. (2000), 37 C.H.R.R. D/305 (Ont. Bd. Inq.)); the likelihood that bearing the net cost would threaten the survival of the enterprise or alter its essential character (Quesnel v. London Educational Health Centre (1995), 28 C.H.R.R. D/474 (Ont. Bd. Inq.)); and whether new barriers were erected when affordable, accessibility-enhancing alternatives were available (Maine Human Rights Commission v. City of South Portland, 508 A.2d 948 (Me. 1986), at pp. 956-57). (703)

In BC, two cases have been brought to the BC Human Rights Tribunal against employers and insurance companies for discriminating against employees who are over the age of 65: Jones obo others v. Coast Mountain Bus Company and others, 2014 BCHRT 166 and Johnston obo others v. City of Vancouver (No. 2), 2015 BCHRT 90.

Both complaints were dismissed by the BCHRT. In Johnston v. City of Vancouver, the rationale for dismissal is as follows:

On the material before me, limiting eligibility for participation in the Disability Plan to those under the age of 65 is a “common, accepted and established practice” with respect to long-term disability benefits in Canada. The material on the file, in my view, establishes that the plan was adopted in good faith by both the City and the Union and there is nothing in the material that remotely suggests that the plan was implemented for the purpose of defeating protected rights. The age exemption, which the Complainant asserts is discriminatory, has been in place long before its insertion in a plan would have been necessary in order to defeat protected rights because, when the age exemption was first inserted in the Disability Plan, the definition of age in the Code still ceased at age 65. In any event, there is no evidence in the material before me to support that a motive for the age exemption in this plan was to defeat protected rights. (14)

Recently in Ontario, a grievance was successful because the insurance company was unable to demonstrate undue hardship. In Talos v. Grand Erie District School Board, 2018 HRTO 680, rights to prescription drug coverage were won for post-65 teachers because only 2-3% of teachers were over the age of 65, and the School Board could not provide evidence that coverage would have caused operational harm. While Talos’ claim did not include short or long-term disability coverage, the HRTO found, “The actuarial evidence presented in this matter made it clear that there are reasonable ways to protect older workers from discrimination in relation to workplace benefits, while protecting employers from the expense of unduly costly healthcare benefits and life insurance plans” (86).

Currently, a grievance has been filed by the Okanagan College Faculty Association concerning the rights of post-65 benefits coverage. The grievance is considered to be precedent setting and is therefore taking longer than usual (the average for arbitration proceedings is two years). The details of the arbitration are not yet publicly accessible, and the KFA is not privy to the legal arguments being tested.

It remains to be seen how the Okanagan College Faculty Association grievance will play out. Hopefully, access to fair benefits coverage will be provided to post-65 faculty in the near future. In the meantime, your KFA is bringing post-65 benefits to the bargaining table as per the will of our membership in the last bargaining survey. The KFA will also provide updates on this important case as more information becomes available.

As always, if you have any questions about this topic or any other concerns, please contact your KFA.

KFActs: Important Information about Overpayments

By Rachelle Hollaway, Member-at-Large

Over the past few years, several faculty members have been asked to pay back money due to overpayment errors. Some common errors include workload percentage errors, leave calculation errors, additional work contract errors, benefit overpayments and so on.

Many faculty members have had money deducted from their pay without knowledge or consent.

If someone in HR or Payroll has contacted you about an overpayment or has told you that money will be deducted from your pay, please contact me at rachelle.hollaway@kpu.ca. There may be significant calculation errors in the amount you are being asked to pay back. You also have important rights under the Employment Standards Act (ESA) that HR must uphold.

Section 21 of the Employment Standards Act explains that employers “must not, directly or indirectly, withhold, deduct or require payment of all or part of an employee’s wages for any purpose.”

On the surface, section 21 of the ESA seems to imply that errors made in pay are not recoverable by the employer. However, this clause has been tested by the courts in Health Employers Assn. of B.C. v. B.C. Nurses’ Union, 2005 BCCA 343. In that case, the Court of Appeal wrote:

“The employer is still able to recover overpayments from employees where that employee agrees to the deductions, or where a statute or collective agreement expressly authorizes the employer’s unilateral action. Where no such agreement or statutory authorization exists, the employer has the option of recovering overpayments in other ways such as pursuing a grievance, or bringing a claim against the employee (para 67).”

This means that the employer must seek the consent of an employee to pay back any monies owed. If the employee does not consent, the employer has the right to grieve the employee through its union and/or garnishee the employee’s wages via the courts.

Many people assume that an error made by someone in payroll means that an employee should not have to pay back any money, especially as some of the amounts can be quite high. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and the employee must pay back the amount or else risk court proceedings that can result in garnisheed wages. That being said, you have the right to choose how you want to pay back any amount owing: lump sum, monthly payments over months or years, and so on.

The KFA has worked with our Employer (ER) to create a process that preserves the rights of faculty under the ESA. While this process is sometimes followed, there are often errors and omissions in that process. Further, the Employer has sent faculty members Overpayment Letters without copying the KFA.

Here is what is supposed to happen:

  1. The faculty member receives an Alert Letter about an overpayment. The Alert Letter is cc’d to the KFA, and the letter explains that the faculty member needs to work with the KFA to resolve the overpayment. The KFA is involved as exclusive bargaining agent in any decisions regarding pay. In other words, your KFA representatives are your legal representatives in discussions of pay with the Employer.
  2. The faculty member receives an official Overpayment Letter with an explanation and breakdown of the amount owed and a Consent Letter. The faculty member is asked to consult with their KFA rep, decide on a repayment schedule, and sign a consent letter allowing the ER to deduct money from their pay. The KFA, as exclusive bargaining agent, must also sign the consent letter.

Since this process began, the KFA has found consistent errors in the Employer’s requests for overpayments. In some instances, it is found that the faculty member is actually owed money.

The truth is that the vast majority of overpayment requests from the Employer have been calculated incorrectly. For that reason, we ask that you contact us if you have been sent an Alert Letter or an Overpayment Letter and the KFA was not cc’d on that correspondence.

If you have any concerns at all about the above or any other overpayment issue, please don’t hesitate to contact rachelle.hollaway@kpu.ca.

 

KFActs: Getting to Know Your New Collective Agreement: 2019-2022

By Rachelle Hollaway, Member-At-Large

The KFA-KPU 2019-2022 Collective Agreement was ratified by the membership on July 10, 2020. The following is a summary of important changes relevant to KFA members.

Salary Changes

  • Salary increase (Article 9): Faculty salaries will increase by 2% as of April 1, 2019; an additional 2% as of April 1, 2020; and an additional 2% as of April 2021. The current updated rate (4% higher than previously) was reflected in the November 20, 2020 pay statements. Retro pay for Regular and NR2 faculty was paid on December 18, 2020. Retro pay for NR1 faculty will be paid on January 29, 2021, unless manual calculations are involved. Retro pay or adjustments requiring manual calculations are to occur by the end of March 2021. (The KFA has filed a grievance on these timelines.) 
    • NR or recently retired faculty no longer working at KPU but who were employed by KPU at any point since April 1, 2019, had 8 weeks from the ratification date (July 27, 2020) to apply for retroactive pay. Members were contacted and retroactive pay is to be paid per above. Anyone who was still employed on the date of ratification but who has since left or retired does not need to apply. These employees should be paid out automatically as per the employer’s schedule. For most people, this means by the end of March 2021.
  • NR1s placed on scale (Article 10): NR1 faculty will be placed and paid on the same salary scale as NR2 and Regular faculty (for the duration of their appointment) and will receive increments as FTE accrues. Service obligations such as committee work (in proportion with contract percentage) will apply. Please note that the scale calculation is currently in dispute, and the KFA has filed a grievance over the employer’s interpretation of the scale. Placement on the salary scale and FTE accumulation for increment progression began on September 1, 2020. Please contact the KFA if you have questions about placement on the salary scale as per Article 9.02.

Review of Class Size Past Practice

  • LOU #13: As many faculty members are aware, the LOU #13 process is underway. Letter of Understanding #13 refers to the Joint Committee on Class Size Past Practice. All departments affected by LOU #13 have been contacted. Most departments have communicated their rationales for their respective class sizes. Past and future updates from Mark Diotte, VP Negotiations, are emailed to members and can be found here https://yourkfa.ca/news-issues/news-notices/  and within the fall AGM documents posted on the members’-only section of the KFA website.

Changes to Extended Health Coverage

Changes Involving Leave

  • Requests to extend leaves (Article 13.02 (b)): If you are currently on leave or are planning to go on leave, please note that requests for extensions to leaves must be made “no later than sixty (60) calendar days prior to the agreed return date.” This is a new deadline that did not exist in the 2014-2019 Collective Agreement.
  • Expanded leave provisions (Article 13):
    • (13.07 and LOU 17) Supplemental benefits for parental leave may now be spread across up to 61 weeks. The period to apply for these benefits has been extended to up to 78 weeks after birth.
    • (13.09) Compassionate care leave has been increased from 8 weeks unpaid leave to 27 weeks unpaid leave as per the BC Employment Standards Act.
    • Leave provisions have been introduced for intimate, personal, and relationship violence (13.10); death or disappearance of a child (13.11/13.12); and Indigenous government elections and cultural leave for Indigenous employees (13.13/13.14).
  • Ed leave deadlines (Article 14): There are new application deadlines for Educational Leave. The deadline for 2020 was October 31. The deadline for 2021 and ongoing is September 30. Members must have three years FTE before being considered for a four month Ed Leave and six years FTE for a 12 month Ed Leave. A notwithstanding clause allows for these applications to be considered if there are unused funds left in the Ed Leave fund by the end of the regular application process. The application process has also been clarified.

NR2 Offers

  • Offers of NR2 contracts (Article 4.02 (o)): If an incumbent has been offered a second NR2 contract and declines, the Employer may, “in consultation with the Search Committee,” offer the position “to a faculty member from the qualified faculty list without posting.” This makes it easier for contracts to be assigned to faculty already on the qualified faculty list.

Search Committees

  • Faculty search committees (Article 4.02): Up to 3 “alternate” members for departmental search committees may be elected each year. Previously, this article did not include the election of alternate search committee members. The search process is to be “guided by the principles of fairness and transparency and shall be “subject to the grievance/arbitration procedures set out in Article 17.02 and 17.03.”
  • Interdisciplinary or interdepartmental search committees (Article 4.02 (b)): Several paragraphs have been added that describe the creation, membership, and scope of interdisciplinary or interdepartmental search committees.
  • KFA appointments to administrative search committees (Article 4.10): The Union may appoint up to 3 regular faculty members to search advisory committees for President and VP-Academic, and up to 2 regular faculty members for various other positions, including “any administrative position with faculty oversight.” This means that the Union may appoint faculty members to search committees where the administrator will have oversight over faculty and not just where there is a direct reporting or supervisory relationship.

Clarification of Normal Duties Language

  • Article 12.01: “Normal duties” of faculty members have been defined more specifically and extensively. Over three pages have been added that describe teaching duties, professional practice, service, scholarly activity, and professional development for faculty, librarians, counsellors, learning specialists, and learning strategists. These activities “may fall under the responsibility…of faculty members.” The list is not exhaustive and “not all activities may apply.” Undertaking these activities “constitutes a fair and reasonable work assignment,” meaning that faculty have the right to say no to more workload if it is not fair and reasonable or if they are asked to do too many of these activities.

Clarification of Layoff Language

  • Consultation re: potential layoffs (Article 7): There is stronger language to ensure the Employer informs and consults with the Union “as soon as known” regarding “any changes that may impact the security of employment of any part of the workforce.”

Chair Terms

  • Article 4.05: Alternatives to the typical three-year department chair terms, and to the limit of two consecutive terms, may be agreed on. This important change means that anyone can run for chair despite not being able to serve a full three-year term, such as a faculty member who plans to retire in two years from the date of election.

Equity Initiative for Indigenous Employees

  • LOU 16:  As a result of this LOU, KPU and the KFA will apply to the Human Rights Tribunal “to obtain approval for a special program that would serve to attract and retain Aboriginal employees.”

Retired Faculty

  • Article 21: Retiring faculty shall, upon their request, be placed on the Qualified Faculty List (QFL) and may be offered employment as NR1 faculty. This new language gives retiring faculty continued access to KPU email as long as the retired faculty member communicates their desire to remain on the QFL.
  • Article 10: Retired faculty who come back to teach on an NR1 basis are paid on scale.

NR1 Contracts

  • NR1 contract offers (Article 5.06): the language was changed from “by contract” to “in writing.” This means that NR1 contracts include offers made via email even if an official contract has not been drafted.

Parking

  • Article 12.10 (e): Unreserved and reserved semester and monthly parking passes at specified rates are now available.

Annual Unreserved – $120/year

Annual Reserved – $200/year

Semester Unreserved- $40/semester

Semester Reserved – $66.67/semester

Monthly Unreserved – $10/month

Monthly Reserved –  $16.67/month

There is a new process to apply for monthly parking. Please see SharePoint here: https://our.kpu.ca/sites/as/parking/SitePages/Online%20staff%20and%20adm%20application.aspx

Impark’s Terms and Conditions are available here: https://impark.myparkingworld.com/terms/Print

Faculty Overload

  • Usage of ‘banked’ overloads (Article 4.03 (b) (ii)): ‘Banked’ overload time (“compensatory time off”) must be used within 3 years or it will be automatically paid out. If the faculty member and dean are unable to agree on the scheduled time off, the overload time will be paid out.

Gender Neutral Language

  • The Collective Agreement has been updated throughout with gender neutral language (they, their, them instead of he, his, she, hers).

Personnel Policies

  • Article 18.01: All documents of a disciplinary nature will now be automatically removed from an employee’s personnel file after the relevant time period has passed. Faculty are no longer required to request this action.

Special thanks to Gillian Dearle, Mark Diotte, and Romy Kozak for their contributions to this article.

KFActs FAQ: When Should I ask for KFA Representation?

By Mark Diotte

It happens. All of us, from time to time, are called into our Dean or Supervisor’s Office. Sometimes, the subject of discussion is something positive—an opportunity that we might take advantage of, upcoming regularization, or a congratulatory word about a recent achievement. At other times, these conversations involve topics that are not often publically spoken about at KPU—student complaints, complaints regarding colleagues, grading practices, or conduct issues.  

No matter the reason, when you are called to a meeting with your Dean or Supervisor, it is important to know your rights and when you should ask for KFA representation.

 

1.       Q.   What is KFA Representation and what does it mean?

A.    As per Article 3.01, the KFA is the “exclusive bargaining agent for all Instructors, Counsellors and Librarians employed by the University, including Continuing and Professional Studies Faculty.” This article means that the Union is your legal representative in the employment relationship between you and KPU. The KFA is committed to protecting the rights of all faculty members under the KPU-KFA Collective Agreement.

You are always entitled to KFA representation.

2.       Q.   Can my Dean or Supervisor require me to meet with them?

A.   Yes, your Dean or Supervisor has the right to require that you meet with them, but in all meetings with the Employer, you are entitled to KFA representation.

3.       Q.   What should I do if I am called to a meeting with my Dean or Supervisor?

A.   Before you attend any meeting with the Employer, you have the right to know the subject of the meeting. If your Dean or Supervisor does not provide a reason for the meeting, you should request one in writing (e.g. email). You should also contact the KFA for advice and representation.

4.       Q.   Should I bring KFA representation to my meeting with my Dean or Supervisor?

A.   If the subject of the meeting involves or could possibly lead to discussion regarding complaints, discipline, conduct, or any performance-related issues, then you should immediately notify the KFA and inform the Employer that you wish to have representation present.

5.       Q.   My Dean or Supervisor told me that KFA representation is not necessary, but that they can “be present if I want.” I have been told this is just a “friendly conversation.” What should I do?

A.   Contact the KFA for advice. In many cases, conversations with a Dean or Supervisor may start out as well-intentioned but end up moving into conduct or complaint territory.

6.       Q.   Is it adversarial to bring KFA representation to a meeting? Will I be labelled a “trouble-maker?”

A.   No. Bringing KFA representation to a meeting is “business as usual” in the world of labour relations. Often, the KFA representative just sits silently beside you and takes notes.

7.       Q.   I am in a friendly meeting with my Dean or Supervisor and the conversation has taken a turn toward performance, conduct, or complaint issues. What should I do?

A.   You should immediately stop the conversation and explain that you are uncomfortable continuing without KFA representation. You should then ask to have the meeting rescheduled so that you can have a KFA representative present. You should then leave the meeting and contact the KFA.

8.       Q.   My Dean or Supervisor has asked me what happened in one of my classes. What should I do?

A.   Keep your answers general; if the questions persist, stop the conversation and explain that you are uncomfortable continuing the conversation without KFA advice. Then, contact us. You do not have to incriminate yourself. Your KFA representation will advise you on how to proceed.

9.       Q.   I am being called as a witness to an incident or to provide context to an event. What should I do?

A.   Seek KFA advice. You may find yourself in a situation where you are asked questions about a situation and then the conversation moves into discipline, complaint, or conduct issues.

10.   Q.   Can I bring a lawyer to my meeting with the Employer?

A.    A member is of course free to hire their own lawyer at their own expense, but that lawyer has no legal standing or jurisdiction in the employment relationship. The phrase “exclusive bargaining agent” means that the union is the legal representative in the employment relationship, and the KFA can provide legal advice through the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators (FPSE) if needed.

11.   Q.   I am involved in or witness to matters that may be criminal in nature but do not represent an immediate danger or threat. What should I do?

A.   Immediately contact the KFA. The KFA will arrange to have FPSE legal counsel available to consult on the matter.

12.   Q.   My Dean or Supervisor wants to regularize me; should I have KFA representation?

A.   Not necessarily, but listen carefully to the conversation and follow it up with an email to your Dean or Supervisor that represents your understanding of what occurred. If issues arise in the future, contact the KFA. If you are unsure whether the process of your regularization was followed correctly, or if you would like to check before you sign any documents, contact the KFA. 

13.   Q. I have a good relationship with my Dean or Supervisor, and they have an “open door” policy. Can I drop by and chat without KFA representation?

A.   Yes, of course! Most of the time, the faculty relationship with Deans or Supervisors is a positive one. Just be mindful of situations where conversations may lead to more serious subject matter such as conduct, performance, or complaint issues. You may also want to confirm with the KFA any proposals from your Dean or Supervisor to change the terms of your employment. This can include changes to your workload, scheduling of vacation and PD time, additional work contracts or top-ups, alternative payment plans, or any other anomalous proposals.

 

Generally speaking, it is always good practice to ask the KFA for advice if you are being called into a meeting with your Dean or Supervisor. Further, it is wise to document all meetings with the Employer by taking notes during and/or afterwards. If you are having any doubts or feelings of uncertainty about a meeting, we strongly recommend that you summarize your meeting in an email to the person or people you met with to confirm your understanding about what was said and agreed upon. This helps to avoid misunderstandings and future uncertainty. 

For more information, please see Article 23 Discrimination and Harassment in the KPU-KFA Collective Agreement as well as the Guidelines for the Follow-up of Performance and/or Conduct Issues. KPU Policy HR21 Respectful Workplace, HR24 Protected Disclosure, AD2 Complaints About Instruction, Services, Employees or University, and ST2 Student Academic Integrity/Procedure can be found on the KPU Policy page

If you need to contact the KFA for representation, please visit our Contact page or call 604-599-2200.

Updated August 2021

KFActs: The KFA, Research, & Scholarly Activity. Part II: Protections & Other Provisions

By Mark Diotte

Aside from the Collective Agreement provisions on funding sources for research and scholarly activity discussed in Part I, the KFA has negotiated or advocated for provisions to protect faculty research and scholarly activity along with provisions to enhance the ability of members to apply for and access funding.

Article 12.18 Academic Freedom

One of the foundations of work at a university is academic freedom. Without academic freedom, scholars are susceptible to censorship, discipline, and precariousness of employment as a result of their work.

Not all post-secondary institutions in our sector have provisions on academic freedom. Yet, in arbitration cases, it is often academic freedom language that prevails in protecting the rights of academics to freely engage in, disseminate, and publish their research and scholarly activity.

Our provisions were bargained in the round leading to the 2010-12 Collective Agreement. The article, in part, reads:

Academic freedom is the freedom to examine, question, teach and learn and it involves the right  to  investigate,  speculate,  and  comment  without  regard  to  prescribed  doctrine. Academic freedom ensures the following:

a) Freedom in the conduct of teaching;

b) Freedom in undertaking research and making public the results thereof;

c) Freedom from institutional censorship

Certainly, this language has been tested and defended at KPU through our formal and informal grievance processes, and this provision has offered much needed protections to KFA members who sought to make their ideas public.

Academic Title

One concern brought to the KFA by members is the difficulty in requesting funding from external sources without the ability to use traditional academic titles such as Professor, Associate Professor, and Assistant Professor.

To address this concern, the parties agreed to LOU#20 in the 2012-2014 Collective Agreement. This Letter of Understanding created a joint committee on the issue of academic title. The committee, consisting of Bob Davis, KFA President; Jane Fee, Vice-Provost, Students; Jeffery Shantz, KFA Social Science Representative; and Diane Salter, Vice Provost, Teaching & Learning, recommended that:

1.       The Office of Research and Scholarship actively seek to open access with granting bodies to provide Instructor options, such as listings on drop down menus for applications and that the term Instructor be viewed by the funding bodies without prejudice, with some understanding to funding bodies what the title means at KPU.  KPU administration should be prepared to write explanatory letters on behalf of faculty applications. 

2.       [F]aculty be allowed to identify themselves with alternative designations, such as J. Doe is a professor of History, on KPU business cards.

In the 2014-19 round of bargaining, these joint recommendations were brought by the KFA to the negotiating table as Union Proposal 3.3, but the Employer ultimately declined to accept the proposal.

Article 12.17 Scholarly Activity

Another key protective provision in the Collective Agreement is Article 12.17 which was negotiated in the 2007-10 Collective Agreement to recognize “that research and scholarly activity have always been an integral component of faculty work at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.” The significance of this statement is the formal recognition that research and scholarly activity are an essential part of faculty work at KPU under the agreement.

While the provision recognizes that research and scholarly activity are a component of faculty member work, it also protects faculty workload from becoming exploited or unmanageable due to any formal expectations for research or scholarly activity beyond a 100% assigned workload. The essential line here is that “nothing in this provision shall be construed as increasing a faculty member’s assigned workload.” In other words, the Employer may not force faculty members into untenable workload situations by requiring scholarly activity or research that increases a faculty member’s assigned workload beyond what they are compensated for. In contrast, some institutions in our local sector are required to perform research despite not being given the time to do so—the members of these locals may end up overworked and/or using their vacation time to perform the research duties expected of them.

Other Connections

  • Aside from the three pools of negotiated funding mentioned in Part I, each faculty member is able to spend $100 each year as per Article 16.04 Personal Professional Development Funds. These funds are for scholarly activities and professional development resources such as books, journal subscriptions, computer software, and membership fees in professional organizations. This fund was established as of the 2001-04 Collective Agreement.
  • In 2015, a concern was brought to the KFA that there was some uncertainty about whether or not time release could be funded through grants centrally administered through the Office of Research and Scholarship. As a result of KFA discussions with the Employer, then Provost and VP Academic Sal Ferreras signed a memorandum to the KFA that “confirm[ed] that the perspective of KPU is that to support their scholarly endeavors, faculty may apply for time release as a component of these internal grants. Approval for time release shall be given reasonable consideration.”
  • Finally, in 2018, the KFA began advocating for members who were teaching ARTS 3991, 3992, and 3993  research supervision courses without receiving any form of compensation—despite these courses being credit & tuition bearing courses and requiring instructional responsibility for assessments and learning outcomes. In this matter, the KFA was consistently explicit: research is important to our faculty members, but faculty member workload must be fair and faculty member work must be compensated. The end result of the grievance process arising out of this situation is that all faculty members who delivered these courses in the past will be compensated for their work on a per-credit basis for the courses delivered. Furthermore, the KFA is advocating for the continuance of these courses and has reached a tentative agreement with the Employer for working conditions that will allow these courses to continue to be offered.

Professional development, research and scholarly activity are embedded throughout the provisions of the Collective Agreement, and the KFA has been successful in representing the desire of members for access to stable funding sources such as Article 16.05 Faculty Professional Development Fund, Article 14 Educational Leave, and Article 16.01 Professional Development. Similarly, the KFA has been successful in negotiating language that goes beyond opportunities for funding to protect the research and scholarship that is thus produced by our members.

If you have any questions or comments about this topic, please contact the KFA.

Updated in October 2021.

 

 

KFActs: The KFA, Research, & Scholarly Activity. Part I: Funding

By Mark Diotte

One of the questions often brought to the Kwantlen Faculty Association office is, “What is the KFA position on research and scholarly activity?” The response is clear: the KFA supports faculty member research and fair compensation for this work according to the Collective Agreement.

The work of the Faculty Association has led to numerous supports and protections for faculty member research and scholarly activity in our Collective Agreement. Some of the most significant forms of support are the stable funding sources of Article 16.05 Faculty Professional Development Fund, Article 14 Educational Leave, and Article 16.01 Professional Development.  

Article 16.05  Faculty Professional Development Fund

Based on information from 2016-2020, approximately $350 000 to $400 000 has been available each year to fund the Faculty Professional Development Fund. The fund, also known as the “.6 fund,” is “set at point six of one percent (.6%) of regular and non-regular faculty salary for the institution based on the nominal roll as of January 1 of the previous fiscal year.”

All faculty members are eligible to apply for this funding, with applications accepted 3 times per year: February 1, June 1, and October 1. The online application and further information can be found at https://www.kpu.ca/research/internal-funding-opportunities/06-faculty-pd-fund as well as in Article 16.05 of the Collective Agreement.

The Faculty Professional Development Fund (the “.6 fund”) was successfully negotiated in the 2004-2007 round of bargaining as Letter of Understanding #12 and brought into the main body of the agreement in the 2010-2012 Collective Agreement.

Since 2004, the purpose of this fund has been to maintain and develop “faculty members’ professional competence and effectiveness” while assisting faculty to “remain current and active in their discipline and program.” One of the explicit examples provided in the agreement is “[l]eave from teaching for Research and/or Scholarship.” In other words, scholarly activity and research are included under the umbrella of professional development insofar as they help faculty remain current and active in their area.

It is important to note that this funding was negotiated through collective bargaining and “costed” against the agreement during that round. Thus, this money did not come out of the existing KPU university budget per se, but was negotiated by the KFA bargaining team on behalf of faculty members out of the total money available for collective bargaining.

The main benefit to having the Faculty Professional Development Fund in the Collective Agreement is stability. For example, in 2019, former Provost Dr. Sal Ferreras issued a memo that stated, in part, “I am informing you that at the present time we cannot commit any funding to support any new research projects that entail any level of matching funds, release time and any other contribution commitments from KPU until the end of this fiscal year, March 31, 2019.” In contrast to the university financial position at the time, the .6 fund was untouched as a negotiated pool of money for faculty member professional development because it is protected within our Collective Agreement. Over the years, the KFA has put forward a number of proposals to increase the .6% to a higher percentage in order to reflect the changing costs of professional development and scholarly activity, yet there has been little appetite to increase this funding on the part of the Employer.

Article 14 Education Leave

Similar to the .6 fund, Education Leave at KPU is a crucial provision of the Collective Agreement for supporting faculty member research and scholarly activity. The fund allocates “an amount equal to 1.6% of the regular and non-regular type 2 faculty members’ salary budget…to pay the cost of replacing faculty members on educational leave during the fiscal year.”

While the total value of the Education Leave fund varies, a total of 13 Ed Leaves were awarded in the 2018-19 Academic Year. According to KPU administration, sixty-eight leaves have been awarded since 2014 for a total of 113 semesters of leave for faculty members during this period.[1] The value of this fund is easily several hundred thousand dollars each year.

All regular faculty members are eligible to apply as per the guidelines set out in Article 14 of the Collective Agreement and on the HR Sharepoint site: https://our.kpu.ca/sites/hr/training/FacultyEdLeave/SitePages/Home.aspx

Education Leave has been part of the agreement as far back as the 1988-1991 Collective Agreement. As with all benefits and improvements to collective agreements, it was also costed against the agreement at establishment—meaning that it would have been a priority of our membership that was funded out of the total money available for collective bargaining.

In the bargaining round leading to the 1998-2001 Collective Agreement, the parties agreed to include “research and/or publication of research (through electronic, print or media)” under the list of activities that Educational Leave may be used for. With that small change, research joined other scholarly and professional development activities as a protected provision under Educational Leave in the Collective Agreement.

Article 16.01 Professional Development Committee Funds

The fund, available to all faculty members, provides $700.00 for each full-time equivalent member with unused monies carried over to the subsequent year. In some areas, the use and pooling of funds results in the ability to access significantly more than $700.00 per member for activities such as travel to international conferences. Further information can be found in Article 16.01 of the Collective Agreement and under the yourkfa.ca “Resources” heading.

As with Educational Leave, the funding available to Professional Development Committees has been part of professional development funding through the Collective Agreement as far back as the 1988-91 agreement.

As per Article 16.01 if the current Collective Agreement:

Each Professional Development Committee has the responsibility of promoting, within the group, activities to enhance the academic, technical, and educational standards of the programs/disciplines…

          […]  

In addition, each Committee has the responsibility of drawing up guidelines for the disbursement of professional development funds and receiving from the faculty members’, applications for the use of such funds. These guidelines shall include that the proposed activity will be of benefit to the faculty member and the Employer.

This wording has remained unchanged since 1988 and clearly indicates that this funding is controlled by the PD groupings through their PD committee. These committees have significant autonomy, and they fund requests ranging from books and software to a wide range of research and scholarly activities depending on the terms developed by the individual committee.  

In the bargaining round leading to the 2014-19 Collective Agreement, two increases were negotiated to PD committee funding: from $550 to $625 as of January 1, 2017, and to $700 as of January 1, 2019.

 

As mentioned in my introductory statement, these three funding sources–Article 16.05 Faculty Professional Development Fund, Article 14 Educational Leave, and Article 16.01 Professional Development­—represent a significant pool of stable, protected, and negotiated funding for professional development, research, and scholarly activity at KPU. In total, these three funds likely approximate more than a million total dollars per year that have been negotiated for faculty members by the KFA.

Part II of this article will focus on the work that the KFA has done to protect faculty member research and scholarly activity on one hand while making funding sources more accessible on the other.

If you have any questions or comments about this topic, please contact the KFA.

 

Updated August 2021

[1] Some faculty members have a one-semester leave; some members have a two-semester leave.

 

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:

  1. Mandatory benefits: Group Life Insurance, Accidental Death & Dismemberment, Short-Term Disability, and Long Term Disability
  2. 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