A 7 year battle over a day of paid personal leave has finally
reached a conclusion.
The dispute centred around the interpretation of the collective
bargaining agreement governing a unionized employee of the Canada
Revenue Agency (CRA). The employee, during the
span of one fiscal year, moved from one position within the Agency
to another. Each position was in a different bargaining unit with
its own collective agreement. Each collective agreement entitled
workers to one paid personal day per fiscal year. The employee took
a personal day under each agreement (in the same year). The Agency
refused to pay the second day.
The CRA took the position that the paid leave entitlements were
Agency-wide and not specific to each contract and each bargaining
unit. To allow an employee to take more than one paid day of leave
"leads to an unfair result and defies the values and
principles of equity, integrity and efficiency..." the CRA
For her part, the employee argued that a plain and ordinary
reading of the collective agreement entitled her to a paid personal
day, regardless of whether or not she had taken one under another
contract. The Public Service Labour Relations Board (PSRLB) agreed and granted her a day's pay.
After a successful appeal to the Federal Court by CRA which
quashed the PSLRB's decision, the Federal Court of Appeal reversed that
decision, reaffirming the right of the employee to be paid the
second day. Fairness was not at play where the collective agreement
was unambiguous. The FCA held that:
 [a]ny perceived unfairness or inequity resulting from the
application of the collective agreement [as he interpreted it]
should be resolved at the bargaining table.
Employers dealing with multiple collective agreements should
take note – it pays to think about the potential interaction
between those collective agreements and issues that may arise as
employees move within an organization.
This article was written with the assistance of Erika Anschuetz,
Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP
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