On Friday, April 1, 2022, the Employer (GNWT) sent a Q&A to employees that included:
“Q: Will COVID leave codes still be available? *UPDATED*
A: No. The Department of Finance announced on 01 April 2022 that COVID leave codes would not longer be available on 01 April 2022. If employees are unable to attend work due to an illness or an illness in their household, they will be required to use leave from their existing sick and special leave banks.”
The UNW disagrees with the Employer’s position. Covid Paid Sick Leave and Covid Special Leave (for isolation) were negotiated into the current collective agreement, and the Employer cannot unilaterally take away these codes. When the collective agreement expires in March 2023, the Employer can negotiate a change at that time.
The Letter of Understanding in the Collective Agreement states:
LETTER OF UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE NORTHWEST TERRITORIES AND THE UNION OF NORTHERN WORKERS
In recognition of the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent public health orders issued by the Chief Public Health Officer of the Northwest Territories, the parties agree that COVID-19 related sick leave and special leave will no longer draw from employees’ existing sick leave and special leave banks. The Employer has introduced new COVID-19 paid sick leave and New COVID-19 special isolation leave codes. Time previously entered as sick leave or special isolation leave due to COVID-19 will be reinstated in employees’ respective leave banks.
Although the public health emergency has not been extended, the pandemic has not ended; Covid-19 is still very active and case numbers are still very high in the NWT. The employer should be protecting the health and safety of workers.
If you are forced to use your regular Sick Leave or Special Leave banks while you are ill or self-isolating due to Covid-19, or caring for someone who is ill or self-isolating due to Covid-19, please take the following steps:
- Email your supervisor requesting they grant Covid Sick or Covid Special as per the LOU signed at the completion of the last round of bargaining (it is included in the GNWT Ratification Kit). It is important that you have it in writing that you requested and were denied use of Covid Sick or Covid Special leave.
- Complete and submit the following forms (instructions on how to complete and submit these forms are on page one of the Grievance form):
Safe and healthy workplaces are a top priority for the UNW, and it is important for workers to be able to stay home when they are sick.
If you have any questions or concerns about filing a grievance, please speak to your Union rep or contact your service officer.