UPDATE ON ‘REASONABLE LATENESS’


We all remember how terrible the weather was in the winter of 2015 and the problems it caused for many of us to get to work.  As a result of these challenges, the Union wound up filing a number of grievances with Health PEI to ensure that members were being treated fairly in meeting the challenge of getting to work in a timely manner in spite of adverse weather and storm conditions when travelling to work.  Following numerous discussions with Health PEI, the case went to a hearing in front of an arbitrator, Robert D. Breen, QC, of New Brunswick.  The Union argued that the employer was improperly denying people the benefit of “Reasonable Lateness” found in Article 23.04 of the Collective Agreement.  The employer argued the idea of “Reasonable Lateness” only occurred in the most unusual circumstances and instead Article 23.02 (“Time Lost to Absence or Lateness”) should apply.  Unfortunately, in his decision of December 14, 2016, the arbitrator ruled in favour of the employer, Health PEI.  The arbitrator’s interpretation is that Article 23.02 puts the risk and the cost of not attending (or being late) on the shoulders of the employee and if the employee chooses not to attempt to proceed to work, he/she must make up the time or use vacation, TIL, Stat, etc..  The arbitrator says that the “Reasonable Lateness” clause only applies where an employee takes steps to be on their way to work but is delayed by a reasonable justifiable intervening event.  Now that an arbitrator has ruled on the issue, the Union must abide by this interpretation until such time as there is different wording negotiated through Collective Bargaining.  In practical terms, this decision means that if an employee decides to not try to go into work, Article 23.02 applies.  On the other hand, if an employee takes steps and gets out onto the road to work and then, for example, gets stuck behind a slow moving salt truck, he/she could claim “Reasonable Lateness”.  The key difference is whether the employee is making “reasonable efforts” to get to work or, for whatever reason, decides not to make the effort.  The Union disagrees with the arbitrator’s decision because we feel it forces our members to make choices that might risk their own personal safety.  We will continue to work for change on this issue.