Home Arbitration/Labour Relations Moncton Honda didn’t violate collective agreement by giving alternate day off for Remembrance Day: Arbitrator

Moncton Honda didn’t violate collective agreement by giving alternate day off for Remembrance Day: Arbitrator

by HR Law Canada

Moncton Honda did not violate its collective agreement when it decided to shut its doors on Remembrance Day in 2023, offering its employees a day off in July 2024 as a substitute for the statutory holiday, an arbitrator has ruled.

Remembrance Day, recognized under the Holiday Act as a legal holiday throughout Canada, fell on a Saturday in 2023. Consequently, the employees, as represented by Unifor, Local 4501, were given the option to take off either July 14 or 17, 2024, with their choice based on seniority.

The employer’s decision to provide a day off in lieu of the actual holiday prompted a grievance from the union, alleging a violation of the collective agreement.

The union’s grievance centered on the employer’s refusal to pay overtime wages for hours worked on Nov. 13, 2023, and the change in the practice of scheduling holidays that fall on non-work days without prior warning. The union sought full redress, including payment of any wages and holiday pay owed.

The arbitrator’s analysis acknowledged the fulsome arguments from both parties, noting the absence of a consistent past practice by the employer regarding the observance of Remembrance Day when it falls on a weekend.

Despite the union’s contention of a past practice where a day off would be granted on the Monday following Remembrance Day, the arbitrator found no evidence of such a consistent practice. For example, in 2012 — when the collective agreement contained the same language — Remembrance Day fell on a Sunday. That year, the employer decided to offer Monday, Dec. 24, as a “day in lieu” to give the employees an extra day break for Christmas. No grievances were filed over that decision, the arbitrator noted.

The same happened in 2017 when Remembrance Day fell on a Saturday, it noted, and no lieu day was offered to staff in that case. No grievance was filed at that point either.

Furthermore, the collective agreement did not specify when a lieu day must be provided, and the union had, in essence, consented to the employer’s proposal for a day off in July.

Ultimately, the arbitrator dismissed the grievances filed by the union, concluding that the employer had not violated any provisions of the collective agreement.

For more information, see Unifor, Local 4501 v Baig Blvd. Motors Ltd. (C.o.b. as Moncton Honda), 2024 CanLII 22679 (NB LA).

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