Volume 21 | Issue 3 | March 2021
Everyone will get sick. And everyone is different.  

Age, gender, diet, genetics, job duties, working environment, as well as other physical and psychological factors all have an impact on how often, and how severe, an individual will fall ill.   

It is unavoidable. According to one Conference Board of Canada report, unionized private sector employees called in sick an average of 12.8 days per year. Thus, Employers need to expect absenteeism as a normal event when operating a business. Conversely, Employees must expect their absences to be tracked and managed by their Employer.  

At the Co-op Refinery, the Union has agreed to paid sick leave benefits that accrue and renew annually. This benefit for the Co-op allows Employees paid time off from work to seek the appropriate medical care to recover from illness or injury, instead of reporting for work and potentially exposing a large group of employees if contagious. This is particularly relevant during a pandemic, but still applicable to cold and flu season.  

Arbitrators have ruled Employers in a unionized workplace have the right to institute Attendance Management Programs (AMP) designed to improve attendance without the union’s endorsement as long as it satisfies the “KVP” test or principles (named for the arbitration case in which it was first enunciated).  

This KVP test has five key components: 
  • The AMP is not inconsistent with the collective agreement 
  • It is not unreasonable 
  • It is both clear and unequivocal 
  • The employer brings the AMP to the attention of employees before acting on it 
  • And the employer enforces the AMP consistently 

AMPs are shown to pass the KVP test as long as it includes sufficient flexibility and discretion to permit it to be administered with consistent fairness and due regard for individual circumstances. 

Traditionally AMPs try to use various tools to essentially discourage workers from using legitimate sick leave. This blurs the line between culpable and non-culpable absenteeism. We will define those terms in a minute, but the difference between the two is distinct for the purposes of adjudicating the legality or reasonableness of an AMP. When an Employer fails to differentiate between the two, all absenteeism is treated under the disciplinary metric. This places a reverse onus on the Employee to prove the innocence of their absence, which is the anti-thesis of a just-cause system. Taken as a whole, this unreasonable approach violates the KVP principles and overrules the Employer’s right to manage attendance. 

What is culpable and non-culpable absenteeism? 

Culpable absenteeism is absences within the Employee’s power to control and correct – and is thus “blameworthy” absenteeism for which the Employer can hold the Employee responsible and typically leads to a progressive discipline response. Common 
examples of culpable absenteeism include absences due to sleeping in, hangovers, leaving work without permission, fraudulent applications for sick leave benefits, and failing to notify the employer of an absence. 

Non-culpable, or innocent, absenteeism is not fault based (for example, the Employer doesn’t suggest an Employee abused sick leave entitlements) or blameworthy and typically mandates a non-disciplinary response. Innocent absenteeism could be related to an Employee’s membership in a group protected by human rights legislation (for example, Union Leave cannot be included). AMP are introduced into workplaces solely to support these types of absences. 

While both types of absenteeism can lead to termination, the routes are wildly different. For the Employer to terminate an employee on the basis of innocent absenteeism, it must establish the Employee’s absenteeism is extreme when measured against a reasonable standard and there’s little, if any, likelihood of improvement in the future. This process is not quick, as Employees must be given every opportunity to improve and the supports required, including accommodation up to undue hardship, to improve attendance. 

The main takeaway is while under the scope of management rights, every AMP must be looked at through a lens of reasonableness in conjunction with the KVP principles. Therefore, all policies must be reasonable and not mix discipline with what the true intention of an AMP, and that’s to support the health and safety of Employees in the workplace. 

594 Law Committee
The P23 amendment to our DB pension plan contained some bargained changes to our Pension Plan that needed to be added to the Plan Text. These changes were:
  1. Allowing members’ the choice to exit the DB plan for the DC plan,
  2. Establishing the DB employee contributions beginning 2020 at 4%, then in 2021 at 8%, then splitting the cost 50/50 with CRC beginning 2022,
  3. And, for those that remained in the DB plan, reducing the indexing cap retroactively from 75% of SK CPI to a maximum of 5%, down to a maximum of 2%.
On December 30, 2020, the Superintendent of Pensions registered all parts of the proposed amendment P-23 except the change retroactively to the indexing cap. This decision was based on 19(3) of the Pension Benefits Act which reads:
19(3) No amendment to a plan shall reduce a person’s benefits that accrued before the effective date of the amendment.
This means that for those still in the DB plan, indexing on your years of service before Jan 1, 2021, will remain indexed (or adjusted for inflation) at a rate of 75% of Sask CPI up to a max of 5%.  
to the following 594 members:
Hao Tran - Boilerhouse (March 1, 2020)
We would like to celebrate the accomplishments, achievements and announcements of our members. To ensure we don't miss anyone, we will rely on each and every one of you to let us know of any schooling, births, marriages, etc. of your friends & coworkers that we can share with the membership!

Please let Ashlyn know of these noteworthy milestones at info@unifor594.com or message her directly.
594 Swag
Are you interested in sporting Unifor 594 Swag?
Check out our list of swag at:

Employee & Family Assistance Program
Mental Health can affect anyone at any point in their life. Did you know that one in three workplace disability claims are mental health related? Many supervisors and Union Executive have completed the Mental Health First Aid training. Please, if you are struggling, contact EFAP or reach out to a trusted confident.

EFAP is through Homewood Health and is available 24/7/365. Call 1-800-663-1142