Filling Classification Grievances


The most important message to convey to our members is that they must not put their rights under the collective agreement on hold based on management promises to address problems outside the grievance process.

1. Statement of duties job content grievances (including “effective date”)

OVERVIEW

When members have questions about whether or not they are being properly compensated for the work they are performing, these two separate, yet often interrelated grievance processes are key when seeking redress.

If a member feels that their job is not appropriately classified, often they will first attempt to obtain a complete and accurate work description (statement of duties). That is because having any missing duties added to the work description, may prompt a reclassification of their job.

A member’s right to grieve the classification of their position is triggered when there has been a recent classification action affecting their position (such as a cyclical review). Going through the statement of duties grievance process will create a trigger to file a classification grievance.

When you feel it, file it

The most important message to convey to our members is that they must not put their rights under the collective agreement on hold based on management promises to address problems outside the grievance process.

Nobody likes to file a grievance, but it is a right, and the Unionneeds its members to exercise that right. It is in the interest of members to file grievances promptly because it is only when a grievance is filed that a defence of any rights under the collective agreement is activated and the employer is officially put on notice about a particular issue.

It is important to note that the date that a statement of duties grievance is filed can play a major role in the determination of any potential retroactive pay that may result from a reclassification. That’s because when there is a delay in filing the statement of duties grievance, the employer can use the (later) date that the grievance was filed – as opposed to the date that the member assumed extra duties – to limit retroactivity. So, with that in mind, members should always file their grievances at the earliest opportunity.

STATEMENT OF DUTIES (JOB CONTENT) GRIEVANCES

The “Statement of Duties” clause common to PSAC collective agreements gives members the right, upon request, to be provided with a complete and current statement of their duties and responsibilities.

Depending on the circumstances, it may be appropriate for a member to file a statement of duties grievance either: when, (1) the duties they are performing are not accurately reflected in the work description for the position; or (2) when a member has never seen his or her work description and wants to see it.

While in the latter case it might seem to make sense for the member to ask to see his or her work description before filing a grievance, remember our advice: “when you feel it, file it,” because the member’s rights are only triggered once the grievance has been filed.

If the member feels that the received work description does not accurately reflect the duties that they are performing, or that duties and responsibilities have been overlooked or omitted, the member should file a grievance. Make sure the grievance is filed within the time limits set out in the collective agreement and that the grievance is worded properly:

Recommended grievance wording:

I grieve the employer‘s failure to provide me with a complete and current statement of duties and responsibilities. This violates Article ____ (Statement of duties) of my collective agreement.

Corrective action requested:

That I be provided with a complete and current statement of the duties of my position, effective from X date.

Documentation:

The member will be required to specify the duties and responsibilities he or she feels are missing from the statement of duties. This list should be given to the Union Representative. It is NOT to be attached to the grievance form.

Remember, a work description is not simply a list of tasks. The work description should describe the various functions that the member performs in the course of his or her job. The information filed in support of the grievance should be simple, clear and concise. The member will also have to provide evidence that the additional functions being performed are being performed on a regular basis and at the request or under the direction of the employer.

Special considerations for generic work descriptions:

In the PSAC’s view, a national generic work description must capture all of the functions of positions listed under it. We want to avoid the necessity of creating addendums that only apply to certain regions or centres. If a particular region or centre is required to perform unique job functions, those functions should be reflected in the body of the generic work description itself. We feel this is the best and only way to protect our members’ long-term interests.

Mediation:

We recommend that statement of duties grievances be handled through the mediation process. Therefore we strongly recommend engaging the departmental Informal Conflict Management System (ICMS) process, preferably at the final level of the grievance procedure. Experience has proven that ICMS/mediation achieves better results than adjudication.

Mediation is also the best forum to deal with “effective date” issues. If a mediated settlement on job content is reached, the effective date should be included as part of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).

Adjudication:

Experience shows that seeking to resolve statement of duties grievances at adjudication is an uphill battle. Adjudicators are not generally interested in developing a nuanced understanding of a grievor’s job. Instead they are looking for clear, concise evidence of a problem with the work description. In addition, Adjudicators are reluctant to impose an effective date beyond 25 days before the date the grievance was filed.

Impact of a new work description on classification:

Having duties added to a work description is a success in itself. However, that said, having new duties added to the work description does not guarantee that the position will be reclassified upwards. It is important to have members understand that upward reclassifications are difficult to achieve.

Once this process has been completed, the work description must be reviewed and a new classification decision rendered whether or not any changes were made to the work description. See Classification Grievance Procedure, Part IV A.5.

Receipt of that written notification constitutes notice of a classification action on the member’s position and serves as the trigger to file a classification grievance. Members under the Public Service Labour Relations Act (PSLRA) have 35 calendar days from the date they receive the notification to submit a classification grievance.

 

2. Classification grievances

To file a classification grievance, there has to be a classification “action” on the position. As noted above, for members who went through the job content process, the trigger for a grievance is the receipt of the written notification of a classification decision. However, if job content is not an issue, the trigger to grieve is when the member gets notice from the employer of a classification review affecting his or her position.

Recommended grievance wording:

I grieve the classification of my position.

Corrective Action Requested:

That my position be reclassified upwards effective X date.

While we believe that effective date should be dealt with through the job content grievance process where applicable, we continue to recommend that the effective date be repeated in the classification grievance wording on corrective action.

Hearings for classification grievances are conducted by Classification Grievance Committee/s (CGC). The CGC is made up of three employer representatives. The decision of the CGC is final and binding and is not adjudicable. There are three possible outcomes from the CGC:

1. The rating is confirmed

2. Reclassification upwards (including a change in group and/or level)

3. Reclassification downwards (including a change in group and/or level)

The scheduling of classification grievances should be done in consultation with all the parties involved in the same way that other cases are scheduled. However, in spite of this reasonable expectation, some departments choose to schedule hearing dates without consulting PSAC. This unilateral approach almost ensures that dates have to be rescheduled which results in delays to the process and frustration for the grievors and for the union. This scheduling issue has been raised with the employer repeatedly and it remains an ongoing struggle.

PSAC does not provide representation in all cases — only when plausible, defensible arguments can be made for an upwards reclassification. It is important to remember that the classification standards used to evaluate positions were developed by the employer and we are restricted to making arguments based on those standards. Keeping that in mind, where arguments for an upward reclassification can be made based on those standards, PSAC will provide represent.