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By  CMG  •  Posted on  September 1, 2008

Dear Jean, I was on my annual leave last week, and my boss called and asked me to come in. Do I get any sort of extra pay for this? I can’t seem to find it in the Collective Agreement.

I’ve gotten this question a disturbing number of times over the past few months. The short answer is that you aren’t entitled to any premium above your regular pay for work you agree to perform during your scheduled vacation.

We at the Guild believe that Annual Leave is a right that your employer can’t touch. Workers have to be a little bit flexible as to when their annual leave is scheduled, but once you’re out of the building, the employer cannot force you to come in. They can ask you to come in if there is some sort of extenuating circumstance, but you are not at all obligated to say yes, nor are you even obligated to pick up the phone. If something major does happen, and you do decide to go into work, you should know, and you should make your supervisor aware, that you are doing them a huge favour out of the kindness of your heart. Don’t let your boss forget it!

Members have asked why there isn’t any sort of penalty, like the time-and-a-half you would get if you’re asked to come in on your regularly scheduled day off. The reason is this: we don’t want to give the boss permission to call us in at all when we’re on vacation. We have found that a financial penalty is actually more permissive than a prohibition.

Here’s an example: before three collective agreements at the CBC were merged into one during the last round of bargaining, the agreement for one group of employees strictly forbade scheduling shifts with any less than 12 hours between them. Another group of employees only had an 8-hour window between shifts in their agreement. The current language now allows CBC to schedule shifts with less than 12 hours between them for a price. The people who used to have a simple prohibition on having less then 12 hours between shifts now find themselves coming in 10 or 11 hours after their previous shift and the 12-hour rule is out the window. Yes, they get paid a little more but the scheduling eats more into their rest and personal time. The last thing we want is for your boss to call you while you’re on the beach in Australia or visiting family in Singapore, telling you that you have to be back in the office in two days, but that you’ll be paid time-and-a-half instead of getting the rest of your vacation.

Jean Broughton is the Guild’s union services co-ordinator. You can get in touch with her at jean@cmg.ca or by calling 416-591-5333 or 1-800-465-4149.

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