Community Health Workers win vacation time grievance

UFCW 1518 members working part time as community health workers can accrue more vacation time as a result of a win at the BC Labour Relations Board.

Arbitrator Ken Saunders ruled that Northern Health Authority’s policy capping the vacation time of regular part time employees and preventing them from earning vacation time when they worked casual and temporary assignments violated the collective agreement. The policy allowed regular part time employees to earn vacation pay on extra hours worked, but denied them the ability to take it as vacation time off work.

“This is an important win for our members working in community health. Their work as care aides and community health workers is incredibly important but very demanding, and can often take a toll on mental and physical well being,” said UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak. “If they earn more vacation time, they should be able to take it as time off from work.”

The policy was challenged when the BC Government and Service Employees Union (BCGEU) filed four policy grievances against the health authority. The union argued that according to the collective agreement, vacation pay is a benefit, and that “all time worked shall be credited to the employee for the purpose of seniority and benefit accumulation.” Arbitrator Saunders agreed with that interpretation, ordering Northern Health Authority to change their policy and compensate regular part timers who requested and were denied vacation under the policy.

The ruling applies to all community health workers covered by the Health Service and Support – Community Subsector Collective Agreement, including 2500 members belonging to UFCW 1518.