Standby Duty: At last we have a deal! :: Association of Justice Counsel News
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February 23rd, 2018
February 23rd, 2018

Standby Duty: At last we have a deal!

As you know, on November 3rd 2017 the SCC agreed with the AJCīs submission that managementīs refusal to compensate our members on standby duty was unreasonable and unfair. (See previous communiques here and here.)

Since then, we have been working tirelessly to get a fair interim agreement in place that will compensate members for standby duty, past and present. We are happy to announce that we have now reached an agreement, which will be in effect from February 22, 2018 until the binding conciliation award is made.

The value of the compensation agreed to is consistent with what others in the federal public service receive, which is, 0.5 hours for every 4 hour period of standby duty or portion thereof.  Lawyers who are called in to work while on standby will receive an additional 4 hours of leave in any given week that they will called back, regardless of how much time they actually worked.

This interim agreement will ensure that all lawyers are compensated for time spent standing by and being called in to work.

It will also ensure that all members receive retroactive compensation.  Members in the Immigration Law Section of the Department of Justice will be given retroactive compensation back to May 18th 2010, the date of the policy grievance filed respecting the ILS members.  Other members will be compensated back to April 2nd 2015, the date of the filing of the broader policy grievance covering all members.

The agreement is not perfect.  We recognize that some LP groups had previously received more generous compensation before it was unilaterally cancelled by management.  In reaching this deal, those days are more remote than ever for these members.  However, we believe that their arrangement was an anomaly within the federal public service and was always of time-limited duration.

Twenty-two of the twenty-eight collective agreements signed by federal occupational groups have standby provisions. Sixteen groups have standby clauses that provide for exactly what this agreement provides, 0.5 hours for every 4 hours on standby. The remaining groups have provisions that are less generous.

We also recognize that call-back compensation of 4 hours leave may operate unfairly depending on the circumstances. It is in fact inconsistent with the position the AJC took in front of the conciliation panel for a fairer regime that properly recognizes flexible workweeks and more equitably compensates us for excessive workloads.  

However, this is in an interim measure that is designed to bridge the gap until our conciliation decision is released.  It also provides for retroactive calculations to be made going back several years.  We believe that the agreement is reasonable and practical under the circumstances.

The Employer will notify all members on the process to follow in order to be compensated retroactively.

We want to thank our members in Montreal who came forward and testified at the initial hearing.  Without such members, there would have been no grievance, no Supreme Court of Canada litigation and no resulting requirement for the employer to change our working conditions.

A special thanks to the AJC Governing Council representatives, Laurent Brisebois, Josée Pratte and Mathieu Tanguay, in the Quebec Region, for their unconditional support of the membership.

Should members have any questions about the application of this agreement, we encourage you to contact us at .

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