Bulletin 15/09

October 29, 2009
To :  Executive Council
Alternate RVP's
Local Presidents

Re:  Classification, Job Description and Acting Pay Grievances

As a result of some confusion surrounding the job description, classification and acting pay grievance processes, and further to evolving case law surrounding these matters, the following is intended to provide some direction on these matters. In issuing the directions below, consultations were held with the PSAC Representation Section and the CRA’s Redress Section with a view to having all parties take a consistent approach concerning these matters. Consequently, this will serve to rescind previous UTE Bulletin 25/01 issued on October 26, 2001.

The Canada Customs and Revenue Agency Act gave the Agency the statutory authority to provide for the classification of Agency positions and employees.  Notwithstanding this authority, a one-step grievance procedure has been established where an employee wishes to grieve against the classification of his/her position.

Should an employee wish to file a classification grievance, the grievance must be presented to his/her immediate supervisor or local officer-in-charge who in turn must direct the grievance to the Agency's Headquarters Classification Section.  In preparing the grievance, the Union of Taxation Employees (UTE) recommends that the following wording be transcribed in the "Details of Grievance" area of the grievance presentation form:

"I grieve the classification of my position.”

Additionally, we recommend that the following wording be entered in the "Corrective Action Requested" area:

"I request that I be classified and that my position be classified at a higher level effective (DATE)."

When the grievance presentation form has been signed and dated by the grievor's immediate supervisor or local officer-in-charge, the steward must immediately refer the grievance to the UTE National Office who will forward it to the PSAC's Representation Section for review and representation.

 When sending the grievance to the UTE National Office for re-routing to the PSAC, the grievance file should include at least the following items:

  • the grievance presentation form;
  • a signed copy of the current job description with the point rating and classification for the position;
  • an approved organizational chart showing the relativity of the position to others in the organization; and
  • a narrative summary of the significant aspects of the job and the member's rationale for filing the grievance.

Upon receipt of this information, the Alliance's Representation Section will review the classification of the position and advise the member of his/her chances of success.  If the PSAC recommends that the grievance should be pursued, a PSAC Classification and Equal Pay Officer will represent the grievor before the Employer's Classification Grievance Committee.  Should the PSAC recommend, however, that the grievance not be pursued, the grievor may elect to withdraw the grievance or to proceed on his/her own without Alliance representation.  The latter is not recommended, however, as the Alliance's Representation Section Officers are specialists in the area of classification as a grievor may find his/her position being classified downwards should the Classification Grievance Committee recommend to the Commissioner’s Nominee that the position was erroneously classified at the current level.  Furthermore, the decision of the Commissioner’s Nominee is final and binding and a member may not again challenge the classification until such time as the duties of the position change significantly.

One of the most common occurrences creating delays in the Classification Grievance Procedure is when an employee grieves the Classification of his/her position because he/she feels that he/she is completing additional duties which are not contained in his/her job description.  In this case, before presenting a classification grievance, the employee must first ensure that his/her job description is complete and accurate.  Thus, the employee should take the following steps before presenting the classification grievance:

"I grieve that I have not been provided with a complete, current and accurate statement of duties."

As corrective action, we suggest the following:

"That I be provided with a revised or new job description which includes the additional duties that I have identified on the attached list."

(Note: Include a copy of the list referred to in item (3) above.)

  1. Obtain a copy of the most current job description and compare it to the duties actually being performed.

  2. Prepare a list of the duties being performed which are not contained in the job description.  Determine if these duties are already included in another classified work description.  If they are, an acting pay grievance should be considered.

  3. If the duties are not contained in another classified work description, prepare a memorandum to his/her immediate supervisor advising that the job description is not complete and accurate and request that the job description be rewritten to accurately reflect the duties being performed.  Provide the list of additional duties as an attachment with the memorandum.

  4. If the Employer responds that he/she is not required to perform those additional duties, he/she should cease performing those duties immediately.

  5. If the Employer responds that the duties are already included in the job description or that he/she is required to perform the duties listed, but refuses to provide a complete and accurate job description including the duties identified, the member should file a job description grievance immediately stating that the job description does not accurately reflect the duties being performed and asking that a new or revised job description be completed or that the job description be revised  to include the additional duties identified and that the job description be properly point rated and classified.  Suggested wording is as follows:
  6. Upon receipt of the revised or new job description, if the member disagrees with the classification of the position, submit the classification grievance.

It is generally no longer advisable that classification grievances be filed concurrently with job description grievances as these classification grievances may be found to be premature while the work description is still in dispute. There may sometimes be exceptional circumstances (e.g. where a grievor is expected to retire in the imminent future before the work description dispute is resolved) in order to attempt to protect the effective date of the potential reclassification and to provide remedy to the grievor.  In cases of this nature, the classification grievance must still be forwarded immediately to the UTE National Office, but locals should include a note to the effect that a job description grievance has also been filed.  A copy of the job description should also be provided for information purposes.  In these cases, the classification grievances will be maintained in the UTE National Office and the classification grievance will not be processed by the PSAC until the job description grievance process has been exhausted. Before proceeding with this course of action (concurrent grievances), however, the circumstances and rationale should first be discussed with your UTE Regional Vice-President and/or the National Office of UTE.

Often members who choose to file classification grievances also file acting pay grievances at the same time. Generally, however, these approaches are not compatible as classification grievances infer an ownership or incumbency to the job while an acting pay grievance infers no such rights of ownership. Normally, as well, an acting pay grievance is filed where the grievor has been assigned a job where he/she is an incumbent to that job, but is substantially performing the duties of a higher level existing classified job. In contrast, a classification grievance is filed where the employer has assigned additional duties to a grievor’s assigned work description where it becomes apparent that the position is no longer properly classified. Again, however, the work description must be resolved before proceeding with a classification grievance.

Before filing acting pay grievances, members should first request in writing that they be paid acting pay for substantially performing the duties of the higher level position.  Should the request be denied, the member should then file an acting pay grievance.  The following wording is recommended:

"I grieve the employer's decision to refuse to pay me acting pay even though I have been required to substantially perform the duties of a higher level position."

We suggest that the following wording be inserted in the Requested Corrective Action area:

"That I be paid all wages and benefits applicable to the higher level position retroactive to (the date upon which the member commenced performing the duties of the higher level position). 

That I be provided with other appropriate remedies as deemed reasonable and appropriate in the circumstances in order to make me whole."

Should you have any questions or require further clarification concerning this bulletin, please feel free to contact the undersigned.

In Solidarity,

D. Shane O’Brien
Senior Labour Relations Officer