Work­ers protest emer­gency leave pay re­jec­tion

The Glengarry News - - News - BY RICHARD MA­HONEY News Staff

Un­der On­tario’s new labour law, em­ploy­ees are en­ti­tled to two paid per­sonal emer­gency leave days per year.

How­ever, sev­eral work­ers at an Alexan­dria com­pany have been de­nied their re­quests for per­sonal emer­gency leave (PEL) day com­pen­sa­tion as out­lined un­der the Em­ploy­ment Stan­dards Act (ESA).

A group griev­ance has been filed by the Team­sters Union on be­half of about 15 Far­ley Win­dow and Doors em­ploy­ees, says union of­fi­cial Brad Reid.

Al­though com­plaints were filed with the plant’s owner, KP Build­ing Prod­ucts Ltd., about two months ago, the griev­ances re­main un­re­solved.

The News con­tacted the com­pany last week but at press time, KP had not re­sponded to a re­quest for com­ment.

To date, the em­ployer has not pro­vided a rea­son for its re­fusal.

“I was told it was in lawyers’ hands,” says De­nis Ques­nel, a 20year em­ployee, who took two PEL days in March when his wife was ad­mit­ted to hospi­tal for surgery. When he asked to be paid for those two days, the hu­man re­sources de­part­ment told him, “No­body is get­ting paid those days.”

Since the group griev­ance was filed in Fe­bru­ary, lit­tle progress has been made, re­lates Mr. Reid. In the most re­cent of sev­eral emails, the com­pany said it was still in the midst of a “fact-find­ing” process, says Mr. Reid. “We are pur­su­ing it,” he adds. While work­ers see the de­nial of PEL day pay as be­ing a clear vi­o­la­tion of the law, em­ploy­ers have a dif­fer­ent in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the new stan­dards.

“It is not as straight up as you would think,” ob­serves the Team­sters rep­re­sen­ta­tive, not­ing that since labour law amend­ments were im­ple­mented in Jan­uary, sev­eral PEL com­plaints have been reg­is­tered against em­ploy­ers.

For ex­am­ple, cer­tain com­pa­nies deduct the PEL days for the num­ber of be­reave­ment days pro­vided for in col­lec­tive agree­ments.

Be­cause of the na­ture of the busi­ness, the num­ber of Team­sters mem­bers work­ing at the Far­ley Win­dow and Doors fluc­tu­ates, Mr. Reid notes. At peak pro­duc­tion, the work force can reach 225.

In May 2017, KP Build­ing Prod­ucts an­nounced a $3.2 mil­lion in­vest­ment in its Far­ley Win­dow and Doors site in Alexan­dria.

In 2014, KP Build­ing Prod­ucts, one of the largest man­u­fac­tur­ers of con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als in Canada, pur­chased all of the as­sets of Far­ley Group Inc.

KP has 18 man­u­fac­tur­ing plants and 2,200 em­ploy­ees through­out North Amer­ica.

What is PEL?

The Min­istry of Labour’s web page pro­vides in­for­ma­tion on PEL rules.

Most em­ploy­ees have the right to take up to 10 days of job-pro­tected leave each cal­en­dar year due to ill­ness, in­jury, death and cer­tain emer­gen­cies and ur­gent mat­ters.

Rea­sons for tak­ing a PEL day in­clude a per­sonal ill­ness, in­jury or med­i­cal emer­gency or death, ill­ness, in­jury, med­i­cal emer­gency or ur­gent mat­ter re­lat­ing to fam­ily mem­bers.

The first two days of per­sonal emer­gency leave must be paid.

If an em­ploy­ment con­tract pro­vides a greater right or ben­e­fit than the per­sonal emer­gency leave stan­dard un­der the Em­ploy­ment Stan­dards Act (ESA), then the terms of the con­tract ap­ply in­stead of the stan­dard.

If the con­tract does not pro­vide a greater right or ben­e­fit, then the per­sonal emer­gency leave stan­dard in the ESA ap­plies to the em­ployee.

Ex­am­ple: A con­tract only pro­vides three paid per­sonal sick days and three paid be­reave­ment leave days per year. It does not in­clude job-pro­tected time off for any other rea­son.

This con­tract does not pro­vide a greater right or ben­e­fit than the per­sonal emer­gency leave pro­vi­sions. This means that the em­ployee is en­ti­tled to 10 days of job pro­tected per­sonal emer­gency leave per cal­en­dar year.

There is noth­ing in the ESA that would pro­hibit an em­ployer from sub­tract­ing any PEL days that are taken from the paid days un­der the con­tract. For ex­am­ple, if the em­ployee takes three days of PEL for per­sonal ill­ness in a cal­en­dar year, the ESA does not pro­hibit the em­ployer from count­ing those days against both the em­ploy­ment con­tract en­ti­tle­ments and against the em­ployee’s PEL en­ti­tle­ment. While this is not pro­hib­ited un­der the ESA, an em­ploy­ment con­tract may ad­dress whether any PEL days count against any con­trac­tual leave en­ti­tle­ments.

On the other hand, if an em­ployer of­fers a ben­e­fit plan for sick days, be­reave­ment days, or for any other event that any leave un­der the ESA can be taken, and the em­ployee chooses to claim ben­e­fits un­der the plan, the em­ployee has in ef­fect des­ig­nated the ab­sence as a day of statu­tory leave and it will re­duce the em­ployee’s ESA en­ti­tle­ment.

For ex­am­ple, if an em­ployer of­fers three paid be­reave­ment days un­der a ben­e­fits plan and the em­ployee is ab­sent three days be­cause of the death of a par­ent and claims ben­e­fits un­der the plan, the em­ployee is con­sid­ered to have used three of his or her PEL days.

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