The Ontario Labour Relations Board was recently tasked with
determining whether the Shift Leaders of a Brampton, Ontario Sirens
retail store exercised managerial functions within the meaning of
the Ontario Labour Relations
Act, such that they should be excluded from the
bargaining unit. After a comprehensive review of the
day to day duties of the Shift Leaders, the OLRB found that they did not exercise sufficient
managerial functions, resulting in their inclusion in the
In this certification application, the United Food and
Commercial Workers International Union, Local 175 (the Union) had
included the Shift Leaders in its description of the bargaining
unit, and Sirens management (the Employer) disagreed. The
Employer took the position that pursuant to Subsection 1(3)(b) of
the Act, the Shift Leaders were properly excluded as their function
was managerial in nature. The Employer emphasized two (2) key
features of the Shift Leader role in support of its position: (i)
that Shift Leaders were responsible for checking the bags and
purses of departing staff, and reporting any evidence of theft; and
(ii) the Shift Leaders’ authority to curtail an
employee’s shift when business was slow and to call employees
in to work during busy periods.
After a comprehensive review of the day to day duties of the
Shift Leaders, the Board ultimately concluded that the Shift Leader
function was not managerial in nature. The OLRB’s
decision was informed by the following findings of fact:
apart from enforcing compliance with policy and rules and
deciding who to call in to work, the Shift Leaders had little to no
impact on the economic lives of the staff;
the Shift Leaders did not provide any formal training to
the status of Shift Leaders within the store was different from
the staff, but that alone did not confer managerial status;
the vast majority of the Shift Leaders’ work had nothing
to do with supervising others. Rather, most of their time was
spent performing the same duties as the staff, such as interacting
with customers and selling merchandise.
For these reasons, the Board found that Shift Leaders were
analogous to “lead hands” and “working
forepersons” and were properly be included in the bargaining
This case provides useful insight when considering the
appropriate composition of a bargaining unit in the retail
environment. Also, given the similarity of the managerial
exception for overtime in the Employment Standards Act, and the
managerial exception discussed herein, this case may be of
assistance when determining whether those occupying Shift Leader
roles are eligible for overtime. We note that in the retail
environment, Shift Leaders (or similarly situated positions) often
represent a “grey area” with respect to overtime
entitlement, and a review of the factors discussed above may
be instructive for this purpose.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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