Newsletter – November 2019


//Storm Days

The NBTF regularly receives questions related to storm days.

When schools are closed due to inclement weather, do teachers need to report to work if an activity (e.g. professional development training) had already been planned?

According to Article 16.03 (a), if schools are closed due to inclement weather and an activity was scheduled for that day, teachers are not required to report to the activity no matter where it was to take place.

What is the situation for a teacher who is on leave when schools are closed due to inclement weather?

The NBTF and the Employer have agreed on an interpretation for a teacher who is on sick leave at a time when the school is closed because of inclement weather.

If a teacher requested a sick day because of an illness or an injury, but schools were closed due to inclement weather, a sick leave day would be deducted. However, if a teacher was approved a sick day for a medical appointment on a storm day, they will not be deducted a sick leave day as agreed by EECD in June 2017 in the settlement of the Absence Management Program Grievance.

For any teacher who is on sick leave both on the day before and on the day after a storm day, it is assumed that the teacher would not have been at work on the storm day. That day will then be deducted from the teacher’s accumulated sick leave.

What about other situations where a teacher had already requested a leave?

If a school closure occurs on a day where a teacher was approved for paid leave (such as Educational Leave, Family Day, Bereavement Leave, etc.), the absence cannot be modified unless there are exceptional circumstances.

For teachers who had requested a leave without pay, it is expected that the day would not be paid. In such cases, the Employer would have already accepted to grant a leave but the condition at the outset was that it would be without pay.

Essentially, a storm day cannot make it such that a teacher would be in a better financial position than if the school closure had not occurred.

Are substitute teachers paid during a storm day?

Article 61.08 indicates that a substitute teacher who teaches more than ten (10) consecutive teaching days in the same assignment in a school that is closed due to a storm will be paid for that storm day in accordance with Article 16.02 of the Collective Agreement provided that the storm day occurs during the assignment.

For any questions related to storm days, please call a member of the NBTF staff officer at 1-888-679-7044.

//Replacement of Absent Teachers


As school districts continue to struggle to find supply teachers, the NBTF has received numerous inquiries in regards to this particular article. The most common question asked by teachers is:

“ If a supply teacher cannot be found by the beginning of classes, can I be asked to cover a class during my preparation period? ”

The answer is yes, you can be asked. However, whether you accept or refuse to do so is left solely to your discretion, unless it is an emergency situation.

Article 21 of the Collective Agreement is clear:

21.01 The Employer will make a reasonable effort to hire certified supply teachers to replace absent teachers.
21.02 A teacher may agree or may refuse to replace an absent teacher.
21.03 Notwithstanding Clause 21.02, if, during the hours of instruction, an emergency arises, which would result in a class being unattended by a teacher, the Employer may require a teacher to replace the absent teacher until the arrival of a supply teacher. If a teacher is required to replace an absent teacher pursuant to this clause, the teacher must be informed as soon as practicable of the circumstances justifying such requirement.

Not being able to find a supply teacher is not considered an emergency. If a teacher has to leave suddenly during the school day, that would be considered an emergency and a teacher may be asked to cover until someone else can be found to come in.

Another popular question is:

“ Can I be recalled from district PL because a supply teacher could not be found?”

Yes, you could be required to return to your school in order to do your usual workload.

School principals should inform the district when they are not able to secure a supply teacher.

CLICK HERE for more information on lesson plans for Supply Teachers

For other questions related to this subject, please contact a NBTF staff officer at 1-888-679-7044.

//Freedom of Expression

Freedom of expression is a fundamental right, but not one which is without limits. The courts have established that the Employer has a right to expect fairness, integrity and loyalty from its employees. Teachers in turn can expect to be able to freely express their opinions on matters within their professional expertise.

It is recognized that teachers are professionals and their opinions on pedagogical and educational issues are valued. It therefore follows that teachers may publicly express their opinions in accordance with the following guidelines without fear of reprimand or discipline from the Employer:

  • Teachers are free to publicly express their opinions on pedagogical issues and general classroom management. These opinions must be based on facts and expressed in a constructive and objective manner.
  • Teachers may not act in ways or speak in words that would discredit or bring disrepute to the education system. This would be viewed as going further than what freedom of expression would allow and teachers could be advised to cease.
  • Teachers must accept that they cannot rely on the fact that they may be speaking as parents or in any other capacity, and thus go beyond what they, as teachers, might be allowed to declare or do.
  • Teachers must exercise caution when solicited to join a parental group that wishes to lobby the Employer on school closures, for example. Courts have stated that teachers cannot be protected by saying that they are acting as parents rather than teachers. However, nothing in labour relations would prevent teachers from expressing their concerns and worries to their Employer within the framework provided and in accordance with established procedures. For example, the local branch or liaison committee may become a mechanism for teachers to express their opinion on matters which are common to all the branch membership. Individually or through the branch or any other mechanism, the expression of concerns or of criticism towards a management decision is generally done privately between the teachers and management. If a teacher or a group of teachers wish to express discontent to the Employer in relation to a policy, this can be done by asking to meet with the district administration. In addition, if the subject being discussed is relevant to the Collective Agreement, there are procedures and mechanisms provided such as the provincial Employee/Employer Relations Committee, the local liaison committees or through a staff member at the NBTF.

Before contemplating any action or for more information on this matter, we would advise that you contact the NBTF at 1-888-679-7044.

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