Getting to Know Your Collective Agreement: Vacation and Accountable Time

By Diane Walsh, Member-At-Large (Contact)

Vacation and accountable time are topics that always seem to generate a lot of questions from faculty members: what are the differences between vacation days and PD days? What is accountable time? How many days of each do I get? How do I report vacation,  PD and accountable time? Here’s a basic overview of what the Collective Agreement has to say about vacation and accountable time.

Basic information. Our work as faculty members is complex and encompasses many different and varied activities. Our working time is all considered to be “accountable” time, regardless of what activities we’re performing. PD time and vacation time are both defined in terms of numbers of days. PD time is accountable time, or in other words it is time for which reporting is required, and PD time is specifically set aside for you to engage in activities that you undertake in an effort to develop yourself as a faculty member. Vacation time is non-accountable time, or in other words it is time you are entitled to take and for which no reporting is required. 

Accountable Time. Accountable time includes all activities that are part of regular duties, including professional development and other accountable activities. Article 12.01(a) says that faculty members “are accountable for 10 months of the year. The 10 months accountable time includes such activities as teaching, the counselling of students, curriculum/program development, professional development and participation on a variety of educational committees.” The break between Christmas and New Year’s is considered accountable time and does not require attendance on campus for most faculty members (12.16), and Reading Break (12.19) is also considered accountable time.

Entitlements. There are some differences between entitlements for different classifications of faculty. Regular faculty and full time NR2 faculty are entitled to 42 days of vacation under 12.12(a) and 21 days of PD time under 12.01(d). Part-time regular and part-time NR2 faculty members are entitled to the same number of days, but the days will be paid out at the percentage worked. In other words, if you are a 50% regular faculty member, you still get 42 days of vacation pay, but the pay will be at your normal rate, 50% of a full time salary. NR1 faculty members’ contract rate is inclusive of vacation pay, and there is no specific designation of numbers of non-teaching days.

Professional Development activities. The Collective Agreement says in 16.03(a) that professional development is “for the maintenance and development of the faculty members' professional competence and effectiveness. It is agreed that maintenance of currency of subject knowledge, the improvement of performance of faculty duties, and the maintenance and improvement of professional competence, including instructional skills, are the primary professional development activities of faculty members.” Under 12.01(e), the purposes for professional development are described to “include maintaining currency in subject matter, instructional processes, technological developments, learning materials, library holdings and professional skills related to their position with the University.” So any activities that in your estimation reasonably support your “professional competence and effectiveness” as that is described under the articles can fit within the definition of professional development.

Scheduling vacation time. Faculty who work in different areas will schedule their vacation time in different ways. For faculty who work in areas such as the libraries and counselling, this time will be scheduled in consultation with the administrator responsible and according to guidelines that are to be established in order to ensure continuous coverage. Under 12.12(b), “Employee preferences for vacation schedules will be taken into consideration in those guidelines.” For faculty who work in the semestered teaching areas, vacation normally is taken during the non-teaching semester. If a faculty member “voluntarily elects” to teach over three semesters, then according to 12.12(e) “vacation days will be scheduled intermittently throughout the academic year, taking operational requirements into account.” For faculty who teach in non-semestered teaching areas, vacation will normally be taken during scheduled non-teaching time.

Scheduling PD time. Professional development is included in the description of accountable time activities under 12.01(a), and faculty members are expected to submit an outline of planned PD activities to the appropriate administrator at least a month in advance, and the activities have to be approved, under 12.01(e) and (f).

Scheduling accountable time. Similarly to how PD time is scheduled, accountable time also sometimes needs to be planned and approved in advance, and this is described in 12.01(b). For accountable time activities that will last longer than four consecutive days and that cover duties other than teaching or PD, faculty members are expected to  submit an activity plan for approval.

Carryovers of vacation or PD time. Sometimes, there could be a situation in which a faculty member would be requested to carry over part of her or his vacation and/or PD entitlements. Please note that in either case, carryovers are based on the needs of the Employer. Note also that faculty members are not obligated to agree to such a carryover. In the case of PD time, the Collective Agreement says in 12.01(h) that “[i]f the needs of the Employer demand and if the Employer in writing requests him/her to do so, a faculty member may carry over a portion of his/her annual professional development time up to a maximum of ten (10) working days for use in the following year, at a time to be agreed upon by the faculty member and the administrator responsible. Such carryover of professional development time shall occur only with the agreement of the faculty member.” In the case of vacation time, the Collective Agreement says in 12.12(c) that “[i]f the needs of the Employer demand and if the Employer in writing requests him/her to do so, a faculty member may carry over a portion of his/her annual vacation up to a maximum of twenty (20) working days for use in the following year, either separately or continuously with his/her regular annual vacation, as may be agreed between the faculty member and the administrator responsible. Such carryover of vacation shall occur only with the agreement of the faculty member.” 

Reporting. Vacation time is not accountable time, so there is of course no need to report. PD time and other accountable time, on the other hand, require reporting. For PD time, there is a responsibility to confirm that the approved activities were undertaken. According to 12.01(g), “[o]n an annual basis, faculty members will confirm completion of approved professional development activities.” For other accountable time, according to 12.01(b), “[o]n an annual basis, the faculty member will submit to the appropriate administrator a written report of their accountable time activities.” 

For more details, please take a look at Collective Agreement articles 12.01(a), 12.01 (b), 12.01(e, 12.01(f), 12.01(g), 12.01(h), 12.12(a), 12.12(b), 12.12(c), 12.12(e), 12.16 and 12.19.

Questions? Comments? Please contact us and we’ll be happy to chat with you.

Getting to Know Your Collective Agreement: Grievances

By Diane Walsh, Member-At-Large (Contact)

Two of the purposes of the KFA, according to our Constitution, are to “Protect the welfare, professional interests, and working conditions of its members,” and to “Assist in protecting and enhancing the freedom and quality of teaching, thought, and enquiry within the University.” Sometimes, this protection results in action that takes the form of a grievance.

Grievances General Info

What is a Grievance?

The Collective Agreement says in article 17.02, “A grievance is any complaint relating to the application, operation or alleged violation of this Agreement or any question as to whether any matter is grievable.” So in other words, a grievance is a dispute about the terms of the Collective Agreement and how it is or is not being applied. 

Grievance work can take a number of forms. There are grievances having to do with individual members, and these are probably the most common. There are also other kinds of grievances called policy grievances, and these have to do with issues that affect or could affect more than one individual member and might impact policy or process within Kwantlen. There also may be grievances that have the potential to affect the whole system and not just Kwantlen, and we might refer to these as system grievances.

Simply approaching the KFA office with a concern does not mean that you have embarked on a formal grievance process. Grievances can be (and most often are) resolved informally by discussion, and your KFA officers are willing and able to help with informal resolutions. Including informal resolution, there are various steps or stages that grievances can go through and processes that are followed to ensure each complaint is resolved in the most effective way. At all stages, your KFA representatives are here to help you and to ensure that the processes are followed.

“Resolution” of a grievance means that the error, violation, oversight, misunderstanding or whatever was causing the problem has been corrected in a way satisfactory to the parties.

The Grievance Process

Article 17 of our Collective Agreement covers dispute resolution and gives a detailed description of grievance processes starting with informal resolutions and continuing with details of the steps and processes that formal grievances follow. It’s important to keep in mind that the grievance procedure is a dispute resolution procedure, and the point is to try to resolve issues.

Informal resolution is discussed in 17.02(d). An informal resolution can be sought either by discussing the matter directly with the administrator responsible or by approaching the KFA. As the Collective Agreement points out, “[t]he services of the Union Representatives are available to assist in informal resolution of these matters.” So in other words, KFA representatives can and will help facilitate informal resolutions.

The formal process, detailed in 17.02(e), (f) and (g), is engaged when informal resolution has not solved the dispute or when informal resolution isn’t appropriate. Formal grievances follow a series of steps which have explicitly detailed time limits that are meant to ensure resolution takes place as soon as possible within the process. Although the steps are called Step 1, Step 2 and Step 3, they do not necessarily follow from one to another. The differences between the Steps lie chiefly in the level of responsibility of the administrator involved, as discussed below. The steps might be followed in order or they might not, depending on the nature of the grievance. This distinction is necessary because every grievance is unique and the circumstances of each are unique.

The steps of the formal process begin with the Union informing the Employer of the details of the dispute, in writing. “The written grievance shall cite the articles in question, describe the alleged violation(s), and state the remedy sought,” according to 17.02(e). Step 1 describes the grievance being taken to the administrator directly responsible. If the grievance cannot be resolved with that administrator, 17.02 (f) states the grievance can be taken forward in Step 2 to “a more senior administrator.” At Step 3, 17.02(g), the grievance goes to the University President or his or her designate. If there is no satisfactory resolution at Step 3, the grievance is referred to arbitration.

The content of the written grievance must “cite the articles in question, describe the alleged violation(s), and state the remedy sought.” Your KFA representatives, usually the KFA VP Grievances, will gather information about exactly what has happened, will identify the relevant articles of the Collective Agreement and will detail the remedy. Once the written grievance is submitted, the Employer normally has 8 weekdays to reply to grievances submitted at Step 1 and 7 weekdays to reply at Step 2 or 3.

If a grievance goes to arbitration, as covered under 17.03 of the Collective Agreement, this means that the parties could not resolve the grievance and that it will be heard by a third party, the arbitrator. The arbitrator who will hear the matter is either mutually agreed upon by the Employer and the KFA or, if the parties do not agree, then either or both parties can ask the Minister of Labour to appoint an arbitrator. The procedures for arbitration are determined by the Labour Relations Code of BC (17.03(c)). Once a grievance goes to arbitration, the arbitrator has the power and authority to interpret and apply the provisions of the Collective Agreement but does not have authority “to alter, amend, add to or delete from any of the provisions of this Agreement, or make any decision which is inconsistent with the provisions of this Agreement” (17.03(i)). Once a grievance goes to arbitration, both parties lose control of the outcome and the third party, the arbitrator, decides the outcome.

As our Constitution and Bylaws say, we are here to protect the working conditions, welfare and professional interests of the membership. Please contact the KFA office if you have any concerns about these matters, or if you have any questions or comments about this article.