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Arbitrator grants leave without pay to CBC employee

An arbitrator has ruled that CBC management was not justified in denying a one-year leave without pay to a Guild member working at CBC-TV. In his decision, arbitrator Stephen Raymond granted the leave.

Raymond’s ruling is good news for employees seeking a leave for personal or professional reasons.

“(The) provisions of this collective agreement are liberal in respect of the right of the employee to be granted a leave of absence without pay,” Raymond wrote.

“We are very pleased that a neutral third party reads the language in the contract the same way we do,” says Marc-Philippe Laurin, president of the Guild’s CBC branch. “The ruling confirms that people may have an option other than quitting to take a break from work and try out new things in their lives. We expect all employees to have fair access to this opportunity.”

Raymond stressed that CBC management must attempt to meet the needs of the employee, according to Article 71.1.

Secondly, he ruled that if there are no operational impediments, the leave becomes “almost automatic.” And, to determine whether operational requirements are a factor, he said the employer must be able to say “we need to do this and in (his/her) absence we will be unable to do so.” Using the excuse that the employee is “good” and “difficult to replace because of (his/her) experience” is not a legitimate reason for denying a leave. Raymond found that CBC management had not even “turned its mind to how the grievor might be replaced.”

Thirdly, he ruled that it is irrelevant that the leave in question was not intended to benefit the career of the employee and, by extension, the CBC. Raymond said that the absence of a benefit to the CBC cannot be used to deny a leave; instead, if there were a benefit, it may be a reason to grant a leave in spite of operational requirements.

Separate provisions in the collective agreement allow for other types of leave, including “special leave” (article 72), to deal with “personal matters or unforeseen emergencies that affect the employee or the employee’s immediate family, such as illness…, moving, marriage, (and) divorce on the day of court appearance.”

For more information, or to find out how this ruling may affect your plans regarding a leave, please write or call the Guild (info@cmg.ca) at 416-591-5333 or 1-800-465-4149.

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