The MGEU filed a grievance for an employee who was not provided her merit increase at the appropriate time after she returned from a maternity leave. The Master Collective Agreement provides that employees are to receive a merit increase on the employee’s anniversary date. The Agreement also provides, in section 38:12, that when an employee’s anniversary date falls during a period of maternity leave they shall receive a merit increase effective upon the date of their return to employment.

Section 16:05 of the Agreement also provides that, where an employee has been on a maternity leave and they fail to be eligible for a merit increase because they have not worked the requisite number of hours, they will be entitled to a merit increase on the first of the month following the date on which the employee accumulates the necessary regular hours of work.

The government took the position that an employee could only claim the benefit of one of these provisions of the Collective Agreement but not both. The grievor began her maternity leave on January 12th and her anniversary date was February 1st of the next year. Her maternity leave ended on November 15th and, accordingly, she was given her merit increase pursuant to Article 34:12. When her anniversary date of February 1st arrived the following year, she was not eligible for her merit increase because she had not worked 1,008 hours at that time pursuant to Article 16:05. However, by May 30th of that year, she had worked the appropriate number of hours. The government denied her the merit increase claiming she could only get it on her next anniversary the following February.

The Union filed a grievance contesting this and ultimately the government agreed to compensate the grievor retroactively.

Anyone returning from maternity leave should contact their Union representative to ensure that the government is applying the Collective Agreement properly in respect of all your entitlements.