Because of the numerous calls received, the NBTF would like to share with members the employer’s interpretation of Article 32.03 which is supported by two arbitration decisions:
The interpretation of Article 32.03 requires proof of three elements 1) a medical certificate, 2) a serious illness, and 3) a requirement for the teacher to be absent from school. It cannot be presumed that a teacher may stay at home at any time because his/her children are sick. A serious illness must be implied as supported by a medical certificate and there has to be clear proof that the teacher has to remain home because there are no reasonable options available. The medical evidence referred to must substantiate that it is necessary that the teacher must be absent from work. It is inadequate that medical evidence refers to an illness of a teacher’s dependent or other relative only. There is no need to provide proof that there is an emergency or that hospitalization is required.
If the situation is foreseeable and predictable on a regular basis, even if there is a serious illness involved, there is no guarantee that the teacher will be able to call upon this Article each time to require the Employer to grant leave with pay (re: Maurice Cyr adjudication dated April 24, 1989 and Christopher Aubé dated October 28, 1993). It has been the experience of the NBTF that certain school districts have been more generous then others when considering requests for leave with pay under this article. Given the current fiscal climate, districts have started to interpret the article as originally intended based on the interpretation supported by the two arbitration decisions.
How does this save money? School districts will limit the number of paid leaves, forcing teachers to make alternative arrangements so that they can continue to attend work thus eliminating the cost of a supply teacher. If teachers are required to use sick time they may be more willing to make alternative arrangements saving sick time for days when they themselves are sick, again resulting in supply teacher savings.
The NBTF has attempted to grieve this article on two separate occaisions, and while successful in one of these arbitrations, it only solidified the “unforeseen” element of the decision.
The NBTF has spoken to its legal council earlier this month about the employer’s interpretation of this article as a number of teachers have expressed concerns that their requests under this article are been denied. The legal firm will provide us with a legal opinon on how to proceed from here (arbitration, negotiation, mediation, or status quo). Members will be advised accordingly.