FAQs about the Letter of Agreement on Temporary Layoffs due to COVID-19

Will a top up to full time wages apply during a work share?  [A previous version of this answer was incorrect. The following is based on more recent information on the Work Share program – our apologies.]

No, the Federal Work Share program provides a portion of the lost wages based on Employment Insurance (EI) payment rates. If you work 80% of your normal hours you would receive your normal pay for the hours worked, plus 20% of what EI would pay you. EI rates are 55% of your wage to a maximum of $573/week.

I am mostly in favour, if this is what the Executive recommends; however, I have concerns over section 6. as I do not think that an employee that volunteers to be laid off, should then not be able to claim severance. Would you be able to clarify? Is there a reason for this?

Severance has been left out of the agreement because these layoffs are temporary in nature and the employer does not wish to permanently lose any employees. If at such time it become a full layoff Article 17 will apply.

Will the layoffs be determined at the University, CUPE, Agency/Department, or smaller unit level? I.E. who is deciding who gets laid off?
Do you know when the layoffs will begin and for how long?

Layoffs will be determined by Departments or Unit who will decide what positions need to be reduced or eliminated on a temporary basis. Commencing after the LOA is ratified and for up to the end of recall 12 months.

What happens if the ratification vote does not pass?

If the ratification does not pass we are left with the current layoff language in the Collective Agreement and no one laid off will be eligible for the top up and benefits offered in the agreement.

Can you confirm that seniority is based on CUPE 951 seniority as opposed to unit/department seniority? For example, if my department has layoffs in my area, will the newest person in the department or the newest person in the Union be laid off if there are no voluntary layoffs?

Yes, seniority is based on the length of time you have been employed in a CUPE classification and pay band at UVic.

What is the term/duration of the LOA? #12 is not clear to me.

The term of the agreement is flexible as we do not know how long this situation will continue. Recall is 12 months from the date layoff is served. The minimum length is two months and the moment that the Union feels the agreement is no longer serving our members, we will give notice to end it.

What is the number of reduction in hours that qualifies a person for the CERB or SUB program?

Members who have stopped working because of reasons related to COVID-19 or are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits or have exhausted their Employment Insurance regular benefits or Employment Insurance fishing benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020.

Is the university paying laid off staff up to $950/month in addition to the CERB/SUB as a top up to regular salary? I assume this is how staff will be able to pay for pension and benefits.

The CERB pays $2000 per month and the $950 through payroll will be part of the top-up will be your contributions to benefits and done by payroll deduction as normal.

One scenario that I did not see in the attachment or the FAQs was whether there is any buy out or ?? for staff considering retirement?  I’m within a couple years and wondering…

Severance is not part of this agreement as these are temporary layoffs. If layoffs happen in your department the Union can propose alternate arrangements on a case-by-case basis but agreement from UVic would be optional for them.

How many layoffs are we talking about?

We do not know, the employer makes those decisions based on operational needs.

If this impacts me, what is my first step? (ie. who do I speak to for more information? CUPE? HR? Supervisor?)

You should be invited to a meeting by your supervisor or manager along with a Union representative. This invitation should give you sufficient time to reach out to a Union rep and may include contact information for this purpose.

What about casuals and temporary workers?

Casuals should not be used during this period unless there is no regular member who can perform the duties. Temporary employees have already started receiving notices to end their terms early as per the existing provisions of the Collective Agreement and, like casuals, they should not be hired unless there are no regular members who can perform the work and need placement.

What is being done to compensate those working from home and how does this affect them?

If you have work-related expenses while working from home those should be submitted to your department and any disputes should be referred to the Union. Decisions on layoff will be made by departments or units based on the work that needs to be done, whether on-campus or remotely.

Is there any indication of a time frame for these lay-offs or re-assignments? (ie. will I be able to stop worrying this will happen by Sept?, December?, or will I potentially face a lay-off or re-assignment for an indefinite length of time?)

Some layoffs may come before September and some may come during the term as the situation evolves. In addition you may be recalled and laid off more than once based on operational needs. Good managers will try and keep you informed if they are able but until and unless you are asked to formal meeting with the presence of a Union representative nothing is official. If you have concerns, please contact the Union office.

If there are layoffs in my area, or reduced hours which constitute a layoff, will they be done starting with the least senior employee in the classification or pay band?

All layoffs will be done by first asking if there are any volunteers who would rather take the proposed layoff package. If no one volunteers then yes, as is normal, seniority will determine the order.

What if I have years of seniority but am the only one in my classification, but there are others in my unit in the same or lower pay band, could I be laid off even though I may have more seniority than my co-workers?

This agreement allows people to be placed anywhere that there is a job for which they are qualified, while maintaining their full wage. Departments and units should be considered as a whole and if involuntary layoff is the only option, seniority will determine the order.

What about sick time – it mentioned vacation but not sick time?

Sick time is not affected and remains in effect as normal while you are working.

I thought the Collective Agreement said in the event of the closure of the University or an area of the University (Article 20.01), employees will continue to receive full wages, rights and benefits?

Up until this point Article 20.01 has covered members. The University is having to make choices within it’s ability to continue to provide services to a level based on what the model of operations will be in the fall. This agreement will help our members through these choices.

What is the wage and employment continuity period?

That is a reference to the first months of this pandemic when UVic was able to keep people at full salaries while they stayed at home. This was supported by a government program which is now finished.

Does my seniority accrue on fulltime wages if I am working ½ time?

Yes, your seniority will accrue based on you original FTE.

Can I take a Leave Without Pay (LWOP) to save vacation/OT?

No, you can not take a LWOP when you have been giving a temporary layoff.