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Your Questions Answered – Field Hours

Members who work field hours have asked:

What does our Union contract say about banking time in lieu?

First Scenario

15.01C Field Hours states (a) “Overtime rates for full time field staff, as per Article 15.04, shall be paid  for any hours worked that exceed twelve (12) hours in a day or two hundred  and twenty-four (224) hours in any six (6) week period.   . ….and in (e) “For the purpose of tracking field hours of work, the Employer will post in the same location as Employee time-sheets, the attached calendar as per the Collective Agreement marking the  weeks (1-6).”

Article 15.04 states that overtime rates are either 1.5 or 2x and it also lists the additional work hours that mandate overtime. This includes work on any shift in excess of six consecutive days, or for work on any shift changed within posted and confirmed schedule as per Article 15.03.

Now if you, as a field hour employee, either exceeded 12 hrs. on any work day or if you exceeded 224 hours in any clearly defined 6 week cycle and you and your manager both agree that you will bank this overtime  as a ‘time off in lieu of overtime’ then that time must be converted as per 15.05 “..at the appropriate rates….” Therefore, if you are referring to time off in lieu of overtime then please see Article 15.05 as it outlines a very specific process for banking of time off in lieu of overtime.

Second Scenario

Many employees/members and managers  of members working field hours use this “banked overtime” terminology very loosely and inappropriately as they often refer to their banked  accumulated straight time field hours of work as banked time in lieu of “overtime”. For example, a field hour employee may end up working 10 hours in a work day, and then the same employee will say “I worked overtime that day and I banked it.” In this second example, the employee in fact did not work “overtime” (which kicks in for field hours employees only after 12 hours of work on any given day) but this employee has actually worked extra straight time which they would mark in their bank of time.   In this example, the two (2) extra straight field time hours could be used later in the six weeks cycle to meet the 224 hours.

Is there anything in the contract stating that only patient care time is considered acceptable for the time in lieu banking of hours? 

No. There is no such a statement or definition in our contract. So any work done for your employer, including paper work, is acceptable as banked time in lieu of straight time or overtime.  Having said that, some employers may instruct you to do all paperwork on regular work time and not overtime, and authorize overtime only for face to face work with your caseload. In this last case the employer is within its right, but then you too are within your right and have the professional obligation to complete the documentation during the regular hours of work. This would then mean that you have much less time for face to face meetings with your caseload during your “regular time” (whatever that mean to your employer in a context of field hours work environment). In other words, the employer cannot have their cake and eat it too – that is, if you cannot do your work during hours outside of “core hours of operation” (whatever that means in your workplace) then by default, that means you then have to do all your paper work during core hours and your caseload will have to wait until you catch up on your professional paperwork/documentation. The employer cannot have it both ways. You cannot see all of your caseload promptly and do all the paper work promptly, if there is not enough time/staff assigned to that work.

Would non-patient care such as record keeping, filing, stat inputting, meetings, and travel count as time in lieu?

Regardless of whether you are referring to time in lieu for overtime worked or time in lieu for “extra” straight time hours on any given work day, the good news is that it does not matter because any time spent working for the employer be that record keeping, filing, stat inputting, meetings, and travel time must be recorded and paid for or taken as a equivalent time off with pay converted at the appropriate rates: straight time, or overtime (1.5x or 2x). For example, if you and your manager agree to not be paid overtime for 4 hrs. of work at 2X regular rate but instead you bank this time in lieu of overtime, then you can mark one of the days 8 hrs. worked and not show up at work at all (marking it as a paid leave of absence using whatever pay code is appropriate to use for this purpose in your workplace). Similarly , if you  have  banked 8 straight time field hours, you can take one day off with pay and mark it as 8 hours worked at regular time/bank time (whatever code you use), even though you will not work that day at all.

Communication is a good thing. Where at all possible, inform your manager and your colleagues of your intention, in advance of taking an LOA with pay on a specific day. This communication will assist in avoiding misunderstandings and will facilitate better planning for others.

Is it acceptable to bank 15 minutes? Or does it have to be ½ hour or hour increments?

Any time you work should be compensated for and recorded in one of two ways: in equivalent wages or time off with pay in lieu off of the banked straight time or in lieu of banked overtime. It doesn’t matter whether that time is 5 minutes or 30 minutes or 8 hours.

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