Written by Darcy Hryn-Bird
A few years ago, the provincial Government undertook a review of a number of provincial statutes, including The Trade Union Act, The Labour Standards Act, and The Occupational Health and Safety Act to name a few. They hoped to modernize and simplify the existing labour and employment legislation. In doing so, they created The Saskatchewan Employment Act (SEA) which came into force and effect on April 29, 2014 (with the exception of a couple of Sections).
On April 29, 2016 a section that deals with “supervisory employees”came into force and effect. Section 6 -1 (1) (o), defines a “supervisory employee” as:
“an employee whose primary function is to supervise employees and who exercises one or more of the following duties:
- independently assigning work to employees and monitoring the quality of work produced by employees;
- assigning hours of work or overtime;
- providing an assessment to be used for work appraisals or merit increases for employees;
- recommending disciplining employees;
but does not include an employee who:
- is a gang leader, lead hand or team leader whose duties are ancillary to the work he or she performs;
- acts as a supervisor on a temporary basis; or
- is in a prescribed occupation;”
The SEA further states that the Labour Relations Board (LRB) when establishing a certification order must not include any supervisory employees in the bargaining unit. This means that those members who meet the definition of “supervisory employee” could not be in the same bargaining unit with other non-supervisory employees. This does not however prevent them from being a separate bargaining unit. Having said this, the Act allows for the employer and the Union to agree to make an “irrevocable election to allow the supervisory employees to be in the bargaining unit”. During the last round of bargaining, the University advised ASPA that they are not interested in making an “irrevocable election” and will be seeking application to the LRB to have these positions removed from the ASPA bargaining unit.
ASPA knows that a number of our members supervise employees but it is unclear how many would meet the definition. The question that needs to be answered is whether or not your “primary function” is that of supervision.
Who the Employer is suggesting is a “supervisor” or how long this process might take is somewhat unclear. What we do know for sure is that you are and will be a member of ASPA until such time as a decision has been made by the LRB or ASPA and the University come to some agreement on this matter. Given this is a new provision in the Act we anticipate that there may be some challenges as we go through this process. ASPA has started gathering information from the members through a survey. This fall we will be setting up focus groups of those individuals from the survey who self-identified as supervisors. Stay tuned and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us at email@example.com.