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Value of floating holiday
May 26, 2002

A recent BC arbitration award has protected the right of employers to value an employee’s floating personal holidays according to that employee’s typical position and job definition. In award #388, Arbitrator Bruce Greyell dismissed the grievance of CEP Local 76 against Norske Canada Limited (Powell River location).

The union’s filed its grievance after a day worker with a regular 8 hour work day was scheduled to relieve a tour worker with a 12 hour work day. The day worker applied for and received a floater for the date on which he was to replace the tour worker. This situation was repeated twice. The three day workers subsequently grieved when the company paid them for their regular 8 hours, and not the 12 they had been scheduled to work on the date to which their floaters applied.

In finding for the company, the arbitrator considered both the language in and the evolution of the relevant provisions in the collective agreement dealing with floating holidays.

In particular, when examining the definition of ‘tour worker’ the arbitrator found that the use of the term ‘engaged’ when defining tour workers as those who were “engaged in operations…” indicated a mutual intention of the parties to restrict the extension of the definition to those who were habitually or normally engaged in the operations described.

This, coupled with another qualification of the definition of tour worker, namely that if a tour worker was assigned to a position not involving continuous operation to which he is usually employed, his status with respect to whether he was a tour or day worker depended on the nature of the assignment, led the arbitrator to conclude that “there must be some greater connection to the work performed by tour workers than simply being assigned but not working a single twelve hour shift.”

The section of the agreement that defined tour workers ended with the notation that “All other employees are considered day workers”

When examining the section of the agreement that dealt with the allocation of personal floating holidays, the arbitrator noted the inclusion of a provision relating to floating holidays and specifically tailored to employees who “normally work a combination of eight and twelve hour shifts,” which stated that they would “be paid as per the schedule for the week in which he/she takes floating holiday.” The arbitrator held that this indicated that the parties had contemplated the situation of a worker who could potentially work either eight or twelve hour shifts, and determined that in order to qualify for twelve hours pay for a floating holiday, the employee would be required to ‘normally work’ a combination of eight and twelve hour shifts, and be scheduled to work a twelve hour shift on the day to which the floater was applied.

Such wording, the arbitrator ruled, would preclude those employees who only work twelve hour shifts on an irregular, infrequent or exceptional basis from receiving twelve hours of pay for a floating holiday, even if they were scheduled to work a twelve hour shift on the day to which the holiday was applied.

(Click here for link to Award)