It happens more and more frequently now that teachers accept a leave without pay or a secondment without fully understanding the implications of such leaves. The NBTF is also noticing that a few school districts seemed to be affording leaves without pay instead of secondments. This article will attempt to shed some light on this practice and guide teachers into making the right choice.
35.02 of the Collective Agreement. Normally, this occurs when a teacher is invited to take a position with a school district, the department, a university or another organization linked to education. During the secondment, the teacher continues to receive his/her full salary, contributes to the teacher’s Pension Plan and is afforded all the benefits provided under the Collective Agreement (insurance, etc.). The teacher remains a member of the NBTF and of his/her professional association. During his/her absence, the school district has the obligation under Policy 202, to replace the absent teacher with a Schedule D teacher. The NBTF recommends strongly to those who are considering such a leave, to determine in writing with the employer the terms of the secondment: length of leave and working conditions upon his/ her return. In the absence of a clearly written agreement between the parties, teachers risk finding themselves with new assignments or to be transfered to another school. Given the size of the new school districts today, caution is warranted.
Further, the present economic situation has districts struggling with uncertainty and they can have little to no flexibility with staffing.These days, a new practice seems to be happening whereas instead of affording secondments, school districts are now allocating leaves without pay under Article 35.02. This way of doing business permits districts to hire day to day supply teachers instead of a D contract. It goes without saying that the NBTF has serious reservations with this new practice because it places members in jeopardy. Not only are the conditions of the leave and the teacher’s return not defined, but a number of fundamental questions are left unanswered. Because the teacher agrees to a contract with another employer, his/her rights are no longer protected under the Collective Agreement. So, what happens to their pension contributions? What happens to their retirement allowance if they fall under Part I (non bargaining employee)? What happens to his/her residual salary (summer pay)? With his/her sick days? With his/her insurance? Does the teacher continue to accrue seniority? If the job is no longer satisfactory, can the teacher return to teaching with the district? Under what conditions and where?
The NBTF has requested answers to these and other essential questions to the Department and to some districts, but has been unable to secure satisfactory responses. It is therefore extremely important that before accepting a leave without pay and a position with an institution linked to education (which should be a secondment under Policy 202, teachers get clear answers in writing to all these questions. Once a teacher has left his/her employment to take up a position elsewhere, the NBTF is no longer able to represent them.
Teachers who have questions on this issue should not hesitate to call the director of human ressources at the school district or a member of the NBTF staff for guidance and additional information.