KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
Are you required by the Terms & Conditions of your employment to be registered with a professional licensing body in order to carry out your duties?
This requirement is derived from the job or work performed. The Statement of Merit Criteria will include the requirement to be licensed by a professional association. Many departments now require employees to hold these licenses as opposed to just “being eligible to join a professional association.” Failure to keep up the membership in good standing may lead to loss of employment.
In some situations, the employer has refused to reimburse the fees. The first example where the employer failed to totally reimburse registration fees involved our psychologists in Nova Scotia. The Board that licenses psychologists in NS requires that all its members subscribe to the malpractice insurance plan. When the psychologists working at Correctional Services of Canada (CSC) applied for a reimbursement of their dues, the employer refused to reimburse that portion of the fee that was identified for malpractice insurance. The Board responded to the individual psychologists, stating that failure to pay this premium would result in their membership being suspended.
The employer’s position was very clear; employees of the Crown are covered under the Treasury Board Policy on Legal Assistance and Indemnification, and therefore were not required to join the insurance plan. After three years, CSC finally negotiated an agreement with the Nova Scotia Board of Examiners in Psychology, stipulating that any psychologists working for CSC could sign an affidavit indicating that they did not have a private practice and only practised for CSC and could therefore opt out of the insurance plan.
Another case came to light when psychologists working for CSC in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick submitted receipts for reimbursement of their 2008 membership fees. The invoice from each association showed that a portion of the fee would be used to replenish the legal funds. The employer responded that the amount identified to rebuild the legal funds was considered to be a “special levy,” and non-eligible for reimbursement. Once again the employer failed to reimburse the total amount submitted.
The Regional CSC’s office requested an interpretation from its headquarters who ruled that special levies were not reimbursable, based on the Public Service Labour Relations Board decision Brault v. Canada Revenue Agency where the adjudicator agreed with the employer’s position that it was only required to reimburse the annual fees and denied the grievance.
PIPSC argued that the Brault decision had no bearing on the present situation as the languages of the two agreements were totally different. The language in the Collective Agreement applicable to Brault, covered only the annual fee required to maintain membership. The annual fees go from April 1, to March 31, each year. In this case the employee wanted reimbursement of a request from the licensing body in October for a $75.00 assessment.
The Institute therefore requested that the CSC consider the Philippon which fell under the Health Services collective agreement rather than the Brault case which fell under the CRA collective agreement. The language of the Health Services agreement requires the employer to reimburse all membership or registration fees to an organization or governing body when the payment of such fees is a requirement for the continuation of the performance of the duties of the employee’s position.
The language on the invoices sent our members was quite specific: if you don’t pay the fee, your licence will be suspended. CSC still insisted that Brault applied which led to the Institute filing a Policy Grievance.
Prior to presentation at the only level of the grievance procedure, the employer decided to settle the grievance. A Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) was signed off and the members received the additional monies they were owed. As part of the MoS, the employer admitted that it had misapplied article 21.01 of the Health Services agreement.
Carefully reading the clauses that apply to your classification will assist you in the reimbursement of the appropriate fees that you are eligible for. If you have any questions in regards to Registration Fees, please contact an Institute steward or the nearest regional office.
Contributor: Alan Phillips
Publish Date: 23-OCT-2009 02:22 PM