Recently, the Board introduced the EASP to OSSTF members. Variations of attendance management programs exist throughout the province tailored to each Board. Since 2007, OSSTF has been aware that CUPE members were working through an attendance management support program in YRDSB.
The introduction of this program to OSSTF has generated many questions and concerns. Your D16 Executive met with the Board several times to voice concern about the program’s focus and process. First and foremost were concerns about:
- Member privacy
- Member support at meetings
- Potential for discipline
- Clarity of process
- Sensitivity to issues and how Board representatives safeguard the dignity of members
While we continue to meet and discuss this matter with our ETFO and CUPE brothers and sisters, we recognize there are many questions about this program. Your Branch Presidents brought many questions forward on your behalf at a recent workshop. They included:
- If we negotiated sick days, isn’t this a breach of the contract? No. Under Labour Law, the Board has the managerial right to monitor those days.
- Is this not a breach of the Privacy Act? No. To date the Board has developed a process which does not require private medical information to be divulged unless the member offers it. Before any information is given, the member would be directed to the usual Disability Management Program channels.
- Does this program treat members with children differently? The Board maintains that the program is designed to support and address member absenteeism only. Three family days are allowed, under the contract, to support family (C.184.108.40.206).
- Can the Board terminate a teacher if they have a pre-existing condition? No. Under the Human Rights Code staff members cannot be fired if they have a pre-existing condition which is divulged in any meeting.
Needless to say, OSSTF regards parts of this program as intrusive and not supportive of positive morale amongst staff. OSSTF has serious concerns about consistency, privacy (in spite of safeguards) and the 11 day threshold.
As noted earlier, such programs have been examined provincially and varying degrees of sensitivity to staff morale have been experienced across the province. We feel staff morale will be undermined particularly if members feel:
- Compelled to divulge family mitigating factors to Branch Presidents or D16 Rep in order to avoid Step One
- Those who use their sick days judiciously are subjected to a policy designed to address abuses.
If and when you are called to a meeting (starting January 2011) we urge you to ask the school Branch President to be present (no confidential information is shared at the preliminary meeting). The Branch President, by speaking with you before the Preliminary meeting, may learn:
- days to which you are entitled were not accessed
- you were on a WSIB claim
- extenuating circumstances existed causing the absence
This information could shorten the meeting considerably.
Alternative supports are available from District 16 if you prefer. While all EASP meetings are designed to be non-disciplinary, OSSTF believes you should have representation (C.A. 6.2). In this way OSSTF can safeguard your rights if concerns arise with potential for reprimand or discipline. As President, I have serious concerns about the impact of this program on all members and on district morale. I ask that you contact me directly if you need additional information. We will continue to raise these concerns in our discussions with the Board.
Colleen R. Ireland
President, D16 OSSTF