Length of the Work/Instructional Day
Changes to school operations due to health and safety measures included in Public Health guidance and/or school re-entry plans may result in reduced instructional time due to the need in some schools to stagger student entry/exit, allow more time for movement between classes, etc. It is therefore important for teachers to be aware of their rights should any such proposed changes affect their workday.
Schedules D and E of the Provincial and Labrador West Collective Agreements, respectively, prohibit the school districts from unilaterally “altering conditions as they currently exist for teachers”, with respect to the length of the workday for teachers, the length of the instructional day for students, and the hours of classroom instruction for teachers. Some examples of possible Schedule D/E violations include:
- Increasing the duration of teacher supervision duties before/after classes, without adjustments elsewhere to the workday, to allow for more time for offloading and loading of busses;
- Extending overall instructional time to make up the extra time needed for students to move from one class to the next or to clean shared equipment between classes;
- An increase in the frequency or duration of currently existing after-school meetings;
- Changing the start and end times of the school day without adjustments to ensure that the overall length of the workday is not increased.
Teachers who have concerns about potential Schedule D/E violations should contact the Association immediately. Labour relations is predicated on timely dispute resolution and the Collective Agreements provide timelines for filing grievances – a teacher has fifteen calendar days to grieve, and this period begins at the time of the occurrence or discovery of the incident giving rise to the grievance. Failure to adhere to timelines can be fatal to a grievance. For example, if the district were to direct that a school change its opening time in a manner that extended the overall length of the workday for teachers, but nobody filed a grievance to object to this, within the fifteen day timeframe, then the longer day could not be challenged and would become the new “conditions as they currently exist” going forward. Therefore, it is very important for members to seek advice and assistance from NLTA Programs and Services staff as soon as possible.
All teachers should be vigilant against any initiative which lengthens their instructional time or overall workday, undermining the protection afforded by Schedules D/E.
NLTA members seeking advice/assistance on specific matters related to their individual circumstances should contact the Association via firstname.lastname@example.org.