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Respecting our Professional Autonomy

Proposed contract puts nurses at the decision-making table and gives us more control over our working lives

THE PROPOSED AGREEMENT our bargaining committee reached with health employers acknowledges that nurses are autonomous health-care professionals with the leadership skills needed to shape change in the workplace.

SHIFTING THE PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIP

This round of bargaining set out to establish a new approach to health authority accountability and evaluation that puts the Nurses' Bargaining Association (NBA) on equal footing with health employers when determining funding allocation.

Under the terms of the proposed contract, a working short rebate fund will be established that gives employers an opportunity to collect a performance-based rebate if approved by the union. It's an innovative concept that changes the power dynamic between nurses and their employers. Now, instead of nurses going to the employer to ask for solutions or improvements to care conditions, employers will be coming to us to ask how we can help them solve their problems in order that they may access needed funding.

This initiative is funded by the government, but disbursement of money will be adjudicated by the NBA and the Health Employers Association of BC.

A new Performance Feedback Working Group will also be created to develop positive opportunities for open dialogue and identify best practices for reciprocal feedback between managers and employees.

MANAGING OUR OWN SCHEDULES

The proposed agreement gives nurses greater control over our work schedules.

  • Employees will be guaranteed 28 days to create their own master rotation proposal once they have received the necessary information from the employer.
  • Staff will be able to self-schedule their own rotations by a majority vote. Those who wish to maintain a master rotation will still have the right to do so. (Article 25)
  • Six-day rotations can be eliminated or reduced if supported by the majority of employees.
  • 37.5 hours of vacation (45 hours for extended day shifts) can now be held back during the annual vacation scheduling process to be scheduled by August 1 of the following year.

NEW LEAVES FOR BETTER WORK-LIFE BALANCE

Our bargaining team negotiated new personal leaves that recognize nurses are professionals with busy lives and personal obligations that sometimes mean they need to be away from work.

Starting on April 1, 2020 regular nurses will earn one day per year of personal leave that can be used for any reason they wish. This will increase to two days per year on April 1, 2021.

Personal leave days are based on 7.5 hours. Employees on extended shifts can use other banks to pay the balance of the extended shift. One personal leave day can be scheduled at any time of the year with no notice or approval required, and the second must meet the employer's operational requirements.

Our bargaining team also negotiated three additional paid leave days per year for absences when employees or their children experience domestic or sexual violence.

MATERNITY AND PARENTAL LEAVES INCREASED

The proposed contract sees updated maternity and parental leave to reflect legislative changes that now allow 18-months of leave. For regular employees:

  • The birthing parent is now eligible for up to 78 weeks (18 months) of maternity and parental leave. Non-birthing parents are eligible for up to 62 weeks of parental leave.
     
  • The extended parental leaves are considered continuous employment for the purpose of benefits. Our bargaining team negotiated an important enhancement to vacation that's accrued while an employee is on parental leave. Previously vacation credits earned on parental leave were paid out on February 15 of the subsequent year, which triggered unpleasant EI claw-backs for nurses who were still on leave.

Now these vacation credits are held until the end of the parental leave and can be paid out or taken as vacation at the end of the leave, or be carried over to the following year.

IMPROVED VACATION LEAVE

Nurses are professionals who work year round and need time off during the peak periods (the month of March, June 15 to September 15 and the month of December). Our province-wide BCNU bargaining survey clearly told us that members wanted access to prime-time vacation. Nurses also wanted more flexibility to schedule their vacations.

Under the terms of the proposed agreement, starting in 2019 nurses can hold back a 37.5-hour block of time (up to 45 hours for those on extended shifts) for vacation planning. This time can be taken during peak periods, or applied for during those peak periods.

To facilitate peak-period vacations, we have agreed to:

  1. Restrict Article 44 – Union Leave during peak periods so members can have more time off.
  2. Allow employers to schedule casuals for up to 200 hours in peak vacation periods.
  3. Create incentives for casuals to work in peak periods. Casuals now have two ways to earn benefit premium reimbursement:
    • work 500 annual hours in peak periods, or
    • work 975 annual hours throughout the year.

These changes provide incentives for casuals to work more hours in peak vacation periods so regular members can have time off with family and friends.

UPDATE (Dec 2018)
Updated: 1/9/2019 9:42 AM

GAINS FOR CASUAL NURSES

THIS ROUND OF CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS saw the Nurses’ Bargaining Association make important gains for casual nurses, and for regular nurses who want move to casual status.
A major improvement in the proposed contract will now allow nurses to maintain their seniority and banks when they transfer from regular to casual status. Previously, these nurses had to resign and pay out, or lose their banks, even if they intended to return to regular work in the future.
Once the new contract is ratified, regular nurses who want to switch to casual should ask their managers to approve the change and add them to the unit’s casual list. Their seniority will be retained and their banks maintained (vacation and sick credits, etc.). If they return to regular employment, their banks will be reinstated.

    Other contract gains for casuals include:
  • Casual nurses are eligible for the $2 an hour short notice premium if they accept a shift within 24 hours of start time.
  • Casuals who work 500 hours in peak periods will now be eligible for benefits reimbursement.
  • The casual availability bonus will now be paid quarterly.
  • Casuals will receive all regular benefits when filling temporary appointments of more than 30 work days. Long term disability benefits for casuals in temporary appointments will last up to two years.
  • Employers must attempt to find equivalent casual appointments within the same health authority when employees are laid-off because of contracting out.

These changes bring more flexibility to nurses who want to spend part of their career as casuals because they can retain their seniority and earned banks. And casuals will also have more flexibility on how many hours they need to work to qualify for benefit premium reimbursement.

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