Victory for USGE members

Federal Labour Relations Board Finds CSC’s Attendance Management Program Discriminated Against Employees

Ottawa: On August 16, 2016, the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board panel decided in favour of eight grievances filed by Union of Solicitor General Employees members who are employed at Bowden institution by the Correctional Services of Canada (CSC). 

In a victory for USGE members, the Board found that the CSC’s use of its National Attendance Management Program (NAMP) at the institution in question violated the collective agreement and systematically discriminated against specific employees.

The USGE welcomes the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board’s decision and is satisfied that concerns about the program have been taken into consideration. The Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board (the Board) which is responsible for administering the collective bargaining and grievance adjudication systems, launched a proceeding into this case in 2014.

“We are pleased with the Board’s decision which validates our longstanding concerns that the NAMP discriminates against USGE members whose leave is arbitrarily scrutinized by CSC management under this program,” said Stan Stapleton, USGE’s National President.

Adopted in 2011 by the CSC, the National Attendance Management Program was designed to boost employee attendance by giving managers the right to compare the amount of leave a person was taking throughout the year against an average provided by the department, also known as a threshold. 

In its decision, the Board found that the CSC’s implementation of NAMP was discriminatory and in violation of the Collective Agreement. This is because the employer included ALL types of leave in its threshold calculations, including leave related to a disability or family status. 

The Board’s decision echoes The Canadian Human Rights Commission’s submission to the hearing which emphasized that the NAMP “appears discriminatory” and could have a negative impact on employees because it does not exclude legitimate absences from threshold calculations. 

Notably, the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board underscored that by not separating the use of NAMP between employees whose attendance was “worthy of review” and those whose attendance was directly impacted by either family status or disability, the CSC treated the attendance of its employees in an arbitrary manner that ultimately singled out those who had legitimate reasons for seeking leave.The Board also found that the NAMP’s procedure of managers’ meetings with employees who had exceeded the attendance program’s threshold, and the subsequent documentation of these meetings with letters attached to the employee’s personnel files, increased employee anxiety due to the possibility that their jobs were now at risk. 

Correctional Service Canada has been instructed to pay the grievors at Bowden Institution a modest sum of money in recognition of the discrimination they have experienced.

“The Board’s decision stands as a powerful condemnation of the NAMP. USGE is hopeful that the CSC will respond quickly to the panel’s opinion that the arbitrary application of the NAMP created a systemic kind of discrimination that can’t be fixed by simply rewriting the program,” emphasized Stapleton. 

Despite this decision, the National Attendance Management Plan will remain in place and will continue to be used by the CSC to evaluate the attendance of the vast majority of its employees. However, the future of NAMP is unclear given the strong precedent that has been set by the Board to allow these eight grievances to move forward. 

While the CSC has indicated that it will be seeking judicial review of the Board’s decision, USGE is confident that the Board’s reasons for its findings, along with the strong intervention in the proceedings by the Canadian Human Rights Commission, will ensure that the decision will be upheld. 

If members feel they are being negatively impacted by the NAMP, we urge them to contact their Local President.