Chapter 13: Working with Labour Unions

13.4 Cases and Problems

Chapter Case

But I Didn’t Know

After a meeting with the operations manager of your organization, you close the door to your office so you can think of strategies to resolve an issue that has come up. The operations manager casually mentioned he had just finished granted Special Leave – Household Emergency to an employee who had to take his dog to the vet. This clause in the collective agreement was intended to give employees time to deal with an emergency such as burst pipes or a fire. The operations manager, being new both to the company and to a union shop, wasn’t aware of the intent of this clause in the collective agreement. You worry that if other employees get wind of this, your costs could escalate rapidly as the majority of your employees have some sort of pet. Collective agreement language must be interpreted and applied consistently across the organization. Of course, the challenge is that the manager already told this person he would be receiving the day off with pay as a Special Leave. You know you need to act fast to remedy this situation.

  1. As an HR professional, what should you have done initially to prevent this issue from happening?
  2. Outline a specific strategy to implement stating how you will prevent this from happening in the future.
  3. What would you do about the day off with pay that was already promised to the employee?
  4. If the union files a grievance, what type of grievance do you think it would be? Provide reasoning for your answer.
  5. If the union does file a grievance, draft a response to the grievance to share with your upper-level managers as a starting point for discussion on how to remedy the situation.

Team Activity

1: Break into teams of four or five. Please choose the following roles for each of your team members:

a. Mediator

b. Manager

c. HR professional

d. Employee

Once roles are chosen, please determine a solution or make a recommendation for the following situation (remember, this is a role play; you may make reasonable assumptions): The employee believes the performance evaluation the manager gave was unfair and has filed a grievance about it. The employee shows proof of a good attendance record and three letters from colleagues stating the high quality of her work. The manager contends the employee does not use time wisely at work, hence the 3 out of 5 rating. The manager is able to show several examples of poor time usage.


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Introduction to Human Resource Management - First Canadian Edition Copyright © 2017 by Zelda Craig and College of New Caledonia is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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