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E a s t e r n   U p d a t e - Wednesday October 17, 2012

Five Additional Leave Days

On Friday, October 12th, the School Board issued a memo regarding the five additional leave days that teachers are entitled to over and above their yearly 10 sick days. This memo identified that these five days include two (2) personal leave days; days for personal or professional reasons subject to the approval of the Director; and professional Activities Leave when a teacher wishes to attend a conference over two days in length.

Missing from this list are days to care for family and days for medical and dental appointments.

As communicated earlier, we were aware that the school board was disputing the past practice of teachers using sick leave to care for family members. Thank you once again to the many teachers who completed our survey of this usage and remitted forms to the Unit office. Thanks to you this issue has been sent to Accelerated Dispute Resolution (ADR), and we anticipate a resolution to the issue within thirty days.

The question of medical and dental appointments coming out of the additional five (5) days over and above 10 sick leave days is black and white. The Memorandum of Understanding identifies that “Any leave provision under the local 2008-2012 collective agreement that utilizes deduction from sick leave, for reasons other than illness, shall be granted without loss of salary or deduction from sick leave to a maximum of five (5) days per school year.” Our collective agreement, Article 19.02 d) states that teachers shall be allowed to keep dental appointments and follow therapeutic treatments with deduction from sick leave. This indeed has been the practice.

Despite this, our school board is choosing not to recognize either this past practice or the clear direction in the Memorandum of Understanding. Instead the Board identified that medical or dental appointments shall come out of our two personal days. It is upsetting that our employer seems to want to reduce our leave entitlement beyond what even the government did. Yet again, we are finding ourselves in a position of having to send this issue to ADR. In this case the evidence of the practice of teachers using sick leave for medical and dental appointments without use of personal leave days is indisputable. Records of this practice are in OECTA’s possession and no further evidence will be required of individual teachers.

Once again, until this dispute is resolved and corrected, teachers are urged to keep accurate records of the reasons for their leave days, so that adjustments can be made retroactively. Please still give accurate reasons for your absence. Do not request personal leave for medical or dental appointments. It was never contemplated nor agreed that personal leave is to be used for these reasons.

Retroactivity of Fair Hiring Practice

The Ministry of Education issued an Education Labour Update on October 10th which clarified many questions arising from the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding. One aspect that was clarified is that for OECTA and AEFO, the fair hiring provisions as set out in the Memorandum of Understanding are effective as of September 1, 2012. (OECTA and the M.O.U. were always clear on this issue.)

This means that any hiring of occasional teachers into LTO’s or to permanent positions since September 1st will have to be reviewed to ensure compliance with the law. This may affect the jobs of some of the teachers hired into these positions if the board did not follow the procedures as outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding. It also means that teachers by-passed for such positions, who applied and were qualified and among the fifth highest in seniority, should be afforded the opportunity for interviews. The successful applicant should be chosen from amongst those five.

We will update you with information as the process for this review unfolds.

Personal Leave Days

Just a reminder that teachers need not share the reasons they require a personal leave day with their administration, nor are they required to fill out any form for the request. If asked, a teacher may respond that the reason for the request is “urgent and personal.” Only if the personal leave day is attached to a statutory holiday must the request be submitted for approval to the Director or his designate, with the reason stipulated.

Progress Reports

It is progress report time again. Just a reminder that it is up to the teacher to decide how much to write and which learning skills and subjects/ strands require comments. Whether or not to include literacy and numeracy comments is at the teacher’s professional discretion. Students in Grades 1 to 8 whose achievement is reported as “R” on the provincial report card, and for students in Grades 9 to 12 whose achievement is recorded at below 50 per cent, teachers should describe specific remedial measures that are planned or strategies that have been developed to address the student’s specific learning needs and promote success in learning, as well as the kind of parental support that will be required. For elementary teachers, October 26th is designated as the teacher-directed P.A. day for assessment, evaluation, IEP’s and progress reports.

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