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EMPLOYEE RIGHTS AND BENEFITS - Entitlement - Laid-off employees

Friday, March 16, 2018 @ 8:37 AM  

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Appeal by the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) from a decision overturning an arbitrator’s decision, allowing the ONA’s grievance against the Toronto East General Hospital. The hospital closed 11 beds in one of its units, resulting in a reduction of the number of hours of work available to regular part-time (RPT) nurses, without regard to their seniority. The ONA complained that the hospital breached the collective agreement’s lay-off provisions, which defined a lay-off as a reduction in a nurse’s hours of work. The arbitrator agreed with the ONA’s position, while the court reasoned that the hospital had no obligation to provide work to RPT nurses.

HELD: Appeal allowed. The arbitrator was entitled to find that, while the hospital had no obligation to schedule RPT nurses to their level of commitment, in such circumstances, other provisions of the collective agreement could be triggered, such as the lay-off provision. The court’s focus on a guarantee of work was misplaced because the lay-off provisions applied to nurses who were not guaranteed work under the agreement. The arbitrator was entitled find that a RPT nurse’s commitment, while not a guarantee of work, was a benchmark for triggering the lay-off provisions.

Toronto East General Hospital v. Ontario Nurses' Assn., [2018] O.J. No. 950, Ontario Court of Appeal, R.J. Sharpe, G.J. Epstein and K.M. van Rensburg JJ.A., February 23, 2018. Digest No. TLD-Mar122018010