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Bulletin – Paid sick leave for all K-12 members

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All workers in the province are now provided with five days of paid sick leave off work – including unionized workers under a collective agreement – under new changes to the Employment Standards Act, as of March 31,2022. This means that all K-12 members – including casual, temporary, and probationary workers – should be entitled to paid sick leave, regardless of the language in your collective agreement.

Locals should be aware of the details of this new benefit so they can ensure employers are implementing it properly and are prepared to bring grievances when necessary.

Below are a few key items to be aware of:

  • Employees become entitled to the paid leave after 90 days of continuous employment. That calculation is based on time as an employee, rather than number of days worked. So, an employee hired in early September would become eligible for sick leave starting in early December of that year, regardless of how many shifts are worked in that time.
  • Each employee is entitled to five paid days per ‘calendar year.’ Those days are not pro-rated based on when an Employee begins work. So, an employee who is hired in the latter half of a year would still be entitled to the full five days before December 31st.
  • Employees who receive an additional percentage of their wages ‘in lieu’ of benefits are also entitled to paid sick leave and will continue receiving their full ‘in lieu’ pay.
  • Pay for a sick day is calculated based on the average of the employee’s earnings over the past 30 days, excluding overtime. Note that this may be different than what an employee would have earned if they had worked their scheduled shift. In some cases, employees may be entitled to more than what they had earned if they worked the shift if, for example, in the last 30 days they had worked longer shifts, had worked in a higher paying position, or earned certain shift premiums. Unions should be ready to examine the amount paid for sick leave to ensure that it is at least the average of what the employee had recently earned.
  • Be aware that this calculation for sick pay applies to all employees – including those who had entitlements to paid sick leave under the collective agreement. For the first five sick days in the year, all employees (including regular employees) should be paid either the ‘average day’s pay’ calculation, or the normal pay under the collective agreement – whichever is greater.

If you have questions about this new benefit, please contact your steward or local representative.

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Bulletin – Updated Communicable Disease Guidelines

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The Ministry of Education has issued a new update to the Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 Settings. The updates reflect current Provincial Health Officer orders and guidance from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. This update is effective Saturday April 16 to allow time for planning before the Easter long weekend.

This update continues the transition to sustainable communicable disease management. The key changes include:

Health Awareness: an updated approach to daily health checks, with a focus on students, staff and visitors staying home if they are sick. Before coming to school, everyone should be checking regularly they are not experiencing symptoms of illness (including but not limited to COVID-19 symptoms).

Space Arrangements: schools can resume to use classroom and learning environment configurations and activities that best meet learner needs and preferred educational approaches.

A focus on personal practices, including hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, respect for personal space, not sharing food, beverages or other items that come in contact with the mouth, support for those who choose to use a mask, and daily health awareness.

As of April 8, school gatherings and events can return to 100 per cent capacity.

Further, as of April 8, showing the BC Vaccine Card or proof of vaccination is no longer required. However, individual businesses and organizations can choose to continue to require the BC Vaccine Card on their premises. Schools should continue to contact venues as part of event or field trip planning to understand what requirements may be in place.

Updated information is available on the COVID-19 safe schools web page.

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Bulletin – National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

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Last year marked the first time September 30th – the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – was recognized as a federal statutory holiday. The Province of B.C. made a public commitment to engage Indigenous Peoples on how to best observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation followed by engagement with stakeholders in key business sectors.

As the province continues consultations with Indigenous peoples, it is advising all public sector employers, including K-12 public schools, that the same process should be followed as last year. September 30 should again be observed as a statutory day for remembrance this year for those employees who are normally entitled to federal and provincial statutory days.

The Ministry of Education has advised school districts that in recognition of the province’s approach and based on collective agreement provisions granting federal statutory holidays to some district staff, districts should plan that schools will not be in operation on that day.

Front facing dash cameras on school buses

The CUPE BC K-12 committee has investigated provincial funding for front facing dash cameras on school buses. The following information may be helpful for CUPE locals interested in advocating for front facing dash cameras as a way of increasing safety for students and bus drivers.

School districts have access to funding to replace buses when they reach a certain age or mileage through  Ministry of Education’s Bus Acquisition Program (BUS), within the Minor Capital Programs.

Replacement funding for buses includes between $7500 and $10,000 for additional options that school districts can select. One of these options is front facing dash cameras, which cost approximately $2500 – $3500.

It is a school district’s decision which options to select. The Ministry of Education has been informed by the Association of School Transportation Services of B.C. that approximately 80 per cent of new bus purchases include camera systems, either internal or external. It is up to school districts which options they choose to select.

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Bulletin – Updates announced for K-12 COVID protocols

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The provincial health officer announced changes to several public health orders this week, meaning the B.C. Centre for Disease Control has updated it’s Public Health Guidance for the K-12 sector. The revised guidance will take effect on the first day of the school’s spring break.

The complete updated Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 Settings is now online.

The major changes include:

  • Masks will no longer be required, but instead a personal choice of students, staff, and visitors.
  • Students and staff with COVID-19 symptoms should follow current BCCDC advice on how long to isolate. A summary of BCCDC guidance can be found in the Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 Settings, appendix A – page 28.
  • People developing symptoms while at school, and who are unable to participate in regular activities, should be supported to go home.
  • Schools can go back to routine visitor policies, and routine pick up/drop off practices.
  • Events taking place in schools with only students, staff and necessary volunteers from that school can be 100 percent capacity. Events taking place in schools that include people beyond that school should be limited to 50 people or 50 percent capacity, whichever is greater. Once the PHO Gatherings and Events Order is lifted on April 7, all events can return to 100 percent capacity.
  • Events and field trips taking place in venues outside a school can take place with proof of vaccination, but schools should make every effort not to plan activities that might exclude someone if proof of vaccination is required.

Schools are being directed to continue to be supportive in environments where both those continuing or not continuing with personal prevention practices (e.g., wearing a mask or face covering) will be supported and treated with respect.

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