Cautions and Caveats About Taking Leaves
By Panteli Tritchew, Member-At-Large
“Relax, said the night man,
We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave.”
Kwantlen isn’t the Hotel California—you can, in fact, leave. More importantly, you can come back.
From time to time, faculty may find themselves in a position such that they want to take a period of time away from Kwantlen. How they are paid, how pension and benefits are applied and how seniority accrues all apply differently depending on the type and duration of the leave.
There are numerous implications to consider and several important decisions to make before a faculty member takes leave, and this article highlights some of the key considerations as defined in the Collective Agreement.
THREE MAIN TYPES OF DISCRETIONARY LEAVES
On a macro level, there are basically three categories of discretionary leaves faculty are entitled to take under the Collective Agreement:
- Leaves of Absence Without Pay (Articles 13.02 and 13.05)
- Educational Leave (Article 14)
- Other Discretionary Leaves (Articles 13.03, 04, 08, 09, 10, 11,and 12)
Generally speaking, all leaves will fall into the category of either paid leaves or unpaid leaves. It is important that faculty are aware of the pay, seniority, pension and benefits implications of going on one of these types of leaves.
Note: A subsequent KFACTS article will deal with Leaves Due to Illness (Article 15, Health and Welfare) and Maternity or Parental Leave (Article 13.07).
Implications on Full-Time Equivalent Service While On Leave
Full-Time Equivalent Service is defined “as the length of service with the Employer from the date of the first appointment with the Employer” and that Full-Time Equivalent Service includes service on the types of approved leaves noted above (Article 1.05).
Implications on Seniority Accrual and Pay Scale While On Leave
As per Article 13.01 (b), seniority and movement up the pay scale are impacted differently depending on whether faculty are on a paid leave or unpaid leave:
- All paid leaves are treated as continuous employment for the purposes of seniority accrual.
- Unpaid leaves are treated as continuous employment for the purposes of seniority accrual for the duration of the leave, except for movement up the salary increment scale.
The FTE service, seniority, and pay scale implications for each type of leave are explained further under its respective section.
Implications for Retention of Status While On Leave
As per Article 13.01 (c), faculty on either paid or unpaid leave retain their employment status while on leave.
Regular faculty who return from any Article 13 (Approved Leave of Absence, Maternity or Parental Leave, or General (Unpaid) or Article 14 (Educational Leave) will resume their previous faculty position and duties (or equivalent) without loss of FTE service or benefits.
Implications for Benefits While On Leave
As per Article 13.01 (d),
- Faculty on any paid leave under Article 13 continue to receive their salary and benefits while on leave.
- Faculty on any unpaid leave under Article 13 may arrange to pay the costs required to maintain their benefit coverage.
- Faculty on paid educational leave under Article 14 continue to receive their salary, (adjusted to 80% of salary) and benefits while on leave.
KEY CONSIDERATIONS FOR THREE TYPES OF DISCRETIONARY LEAVES
1. APPROVED LEAVE(S) OF ABSENCE WITHOUT PAY (13.05)
The Employer may grant a leave of absence with or without pay to an employee for any reason for up to twenty-four (24) consecutive months (Article 13.02).
Faculty can apply for full or part-time leave of absence without pay for any reason. The application must be made in writing and permission is not to be unreasonably withheld. Faculty who take an unpaid leave should note the following:
- Salary increments are not applied during the period of the leave without pay unless there are special circumstances.
- Benefits are not paid for the duration of the leave. (For faculty on part-time leave, benefits are paid on a pro-rata basis, and faculty can pay to have their benefits topped up.)
- Leave without pay is not considered pensionable service because pension is based upon salary earned, although FTE service does accrue for the purpose of seniority.
Full details of this provision are found in Article 13.05.
2. EDUCATIONAL LEAVE (ARTICLE 14)
Faculty are entitled to take an Educational Leave for a variety of professional development activities that are mutually beneficial to the employer and the faculty member. Article 14.01 defines Educational Leave as follows:
“Educational leave is a period of paid leave enabling a regular faculty member to be freed from regular responsibilities and to be provided with sufficient resources to enable him/her to pursue educational or personal development recognized as beneficial to the Employer.”
All regular faculty members are eligible for the two options of Educational Leave if certain minimum service requirements have been satisfied:
- After a period of three years of full-time equivalent service a faculty member may receive four months’ leave (Article 14.05). This entitles them to a six-month period at 80% salary (Article 14.08).
- After a period of six years of full-time equivalent service a faculty member may receive one year’s leave inclusive of vacation and accountable time (Article 14.06). This entitles them to a twelve month period at 80% of salary (Article 14.06).
Pay and Benefits
Faculty members on educational leave receive 80% of their regular salary.
Additional Monies Caveat: If faculty receive a grant, bursary, stipend, salary or other award which exceeds 20% of salary during the leave period, the Employer will reduce its contribution to the point where the total monies received by the faculty member equal the faculty member’s full-time salary.
Faculty Obligations to Employer
Faculty who go on either a one semester (six month) leave or two semester (one year) leave owe the employer one years’ or two years’ service respectively upon completion of the leave (Article 14.13).
Faculty members are obliged to maintain contact with the Employer through their leave and to confirm their date of return no later than 40 calendar days prior to the agreed date (Article 14.19) and to submit a final report to the President within two months of returning (Article 14.20).
3. OTHER DISCRETIONARY LEAVES (ARTICLES 13.03,04,08,09,10,11,AND 12)
The Collective Agreement includes provisions for a number of discretionary (or quasi-discretionary) leaves, as outlined below:
Faculty are entitled to five days leave with no loss of pay and benefits in the case of the death of a family member (parent, spouse, child, brother, sister, parents-in-law, children’s spouses, foster parent, step child, foster child, grandparents and any other person living in the same household who is dependent on the employee (Article 13.03).
Jury Duty And Court Appearances
Faculty who are summoned to serve on a jury or subpoenaed or summoned as a witness in a criminal or civil proceeding or who accompany a dependent child for court proceedings are entitled to a leave of absence without loss of pay and benefits (Article 13.04,a).
Faculty who are required to appear in court in their own defence receive a leave of absence with or without pay, depending on circumstances (Article 13.04,b).
Faculty who receive these benefits may need to reimburse the Employer all monies paid to them by the court, excepting travel and meal allowances (Article 13.04,c).
Family Illness Leave
Faculty are entitled to leave of absence for up to five (5) days per year without loss of pay or benefits for family illness. A family member is defined as a faculty member’s parent, spouse, child, brother, sister, parents-in-law, children’s spouses, foster parent, step child, foster child, grandparents and any other person living in the same household who is dependent on the employee Article 13.08).
Compassionate Care Leave
Faculty are entitled to a compassionate care leave of absence without pay for up to eight (8) weeks to care for a gravely ill family member. (Family Members for the purpose of this article are defined in Appendix D of the Collective Agreement)
Faculty who are granted a compassionate care leave of absence are entitled to the benefits defined in Article 13.09:
- Employee benefits coverage continues for duration of the compassionate care leave, to a maximum of eight (8) weeks, and premium payment is on the same basis as if the employee were not on leave.
- Faculty may buy back pensionable service for part or all of the duration of the compassionate care leave, to a maximum of eight (8) weeks, and the Employer will pay the Employer portion of the pension contributions in accordance with Pension Plan regulations.
- Compassionate care leave, up to a maximum of eight (8) weeks, is treated as a continuous employment for the purposes of seniority accrual.
- Additional (unpaid) leaves beyond the 8 week period may be granted at the employer’s discretion, as per Article 13.02 (General Leaves).
At the Employer’s discretion, faculty may receive a leave of absence without pay to an employee to engage in election campaign activities in a municipal, provincial or federal election to a maximum of ninety days.
The Employer will provide faculty a leave of absence without pay to an employee to seek election in a municipal, provincial or federal election to a maximum of ninety days, or, where elected for up to two (2) consecutive terms.
Faculty who receive this leave will pay the Employer’s share of fringe benefit premiums (Article 13.10).
Faculty may apply to the Employer for secondment/exchange leave in writing. Purposes could include teaching or providing services at another institution, government, or in business/industry. In an exchange leave, Kwantlen faculty exchange duties with an employee of the other institution.
In an exchange leave, Kwantlen continues to pay the faculty member who has exchanged duties with an employee of the other institution. Employer shall continue to pay its faculty member who has agreed to exchange duties with a faculty member from another institution, and the reciprocal institution is expected to reimburse Kwantlen for the faculty member’s full salary and benefits.
The secondment/leave can be for up to one year, with an extension permissible (Article 13.11).
Deferred Salary Leave
Kwantlen offers a deferred salary leave plan. In a nutshell, faculty may apply to defer a portion of their bi-weekly salary exclusively for the purpose of financing a future leave (Article 13.12).
Here are some highlights from the Deferred Salary Leave Plan.
“The objective of the Plan is to provide the opportunity for all eligible regular employees of the University to plan a leave for educational, recreational or any other personal purpose and to save for what will in effect be an unpaid leave using before tax dollars over a maximum period of five years.”
Some key aspects of the plan include the following:
- The deferred salary leave plan is subject to provisions of the Income Tax Act.
- The leave must be completed no later than eighty-four months from start of participation in the plan.
- Faculty on an unpaid leave from Kwantlen, while the savings accrued in trust are paid out as salary to the faculty member.
- Seniority continues to accrue for the duration of the unpaid leave, but salary increments do not accrue.
- Under Canada Revenue Agency Regulations, faculty must return to the University after the leave for a period at least equal to the leave.
- Faculty may choose to top up their benefits during the unpaid leave.
As there several tax implications arising from the deferred salary leave plan, faculty who are interested should review the specific details of the plan on the MS Word document titles Deferred Salary Leave Plan, located at http://www.kpu.ca/hr/employeeresources/faculty.
In summary, there are several important considerations for faculty who wish to go on leave, and they should ensure that the appropriate article(s) of the Collective Agreement have been reviewed prior to making a decision.
If you have questions about any aspects of the Collective Agreement leave provisions outlined in this article, please feel free to contact me.