Should a worker be fired after travelling on sick leave?

“It wasn’t the case of some serious financial loss or a major inconvenience,” he says. “And there doesn’t seem to have been any impact on the city resulting from her not being available for the time that she was in Quebec – I’m not sure how serious the misconduct was when there’s no impact on the employer, which would normally be a factor to be considered.”

Given the worker’s long period of service with no prior discipline, the arbitrator found that a suspension for the balance of the 2020 and 2021 seasons was appropriate. The city was ordered to reinstate the worker with compensation for loss of salary and benefits from the date she would have been recalled in 2022 to the date of her reinstatement.

Disconnect, confusion over policies

There was a disconnect between the city and the worker that likely stemmed from the city’s failure to clarify policies in three areas – vacation booking for seasonal employees, sick leave, and layoff dates, according to Snowdon.

“[Seasonal employees] were encouraged to take their vacation in the off season, but the off season wasn’t defined,” he says. “To me, that’s a failure on the city’s part – I don’t think it’s fair to put employees in a position where they have no way of knowing when they’re allowed to book their vacation.”

The evidence indicated that in the worker’s 21 years with the city, only once was she extended past Oct. 27 and the rescission of layoff notices added more confusion, says Snowdon.

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