Does your Local have a Facebook page? Perhaps a small group of workers have created a closed group where they hope they can chat more freely in a private setting?
It is very important that the group or page administrators create and enforce community conduct guidelines for everyone’s protection. Nothing on Facebook (or anywhere online) is truly private or safe from sharing, no matter how tightly you try to regulate the participants or the posts of its members.
How can something posted in a private, closed group make its way outside the group? Screenshots are the most common, but even photos with closed sharing restrictions can be downloaded or saved, and shared as easily as any other picture. Online activity may be grounds for dismissal so guidelines and their consistent enforcement are critical.
Here are some considerations when creating your guidelines:
- Define the purpose of the page or group clearly in a post pinned to the top of the feed.
- Make sure everyone knows who the page administrators are: provide easy contact info and be quick to respond to private messages flagging risky content. Ask members of the group or page to look out for each other online; if someone sees a questionable post, privately communicating with the poster (if possible) quickly can help minimize risk.
- Make sure all group/page members know what to expect. If you intend to remove posts, make sure you’re clear in the guidelines about what would trigger the deletion of problem content.
What is problem content?
- Profanity, offensive or violent language, defamatory comments about individuals or the employer.
- Trolling; intentionally disrupting or hijacking conversations with abusive talk or off-topic comments.
- Threats, threatening language, harassing or attacking comments directed at individuals or groups (again, including the employer or manager).
- Discriminatory statements relating to gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or political beliefs, ability etc.
- Sexually explicit material or links to sexually explicit material, sexual comments or innuendo.
- Discussion of illegal activity.
- Spam etc.
- Discussion of confidential information relating to a client, patient, co-worker, student etc.
- Disclosure of business information you should reasonably expect to be confidential or proprietary relating to your employer or place of employment.
Consider who will take over management of the group or page if the original administrators leave, move away etc. An unmonitored page is both a wasted opportunity to communicate and a risk. No matter what guidelines are in place, some people will not play nicely. Be prepared to take action in case of inappropriate activity on the page or within the group. It’s a matter of protection for all who participate in the online community.
Community Guideline Examples:
YEU Shop Steward’s Network is a closed Facebook group for our elected Stewards. Here are the guidelines we have posted for that group:
COMMUNITY GUIDELINES; PLEASE READ
This group allows YEU/PSAC Shop Stewards an opportunity to access information specific to the Steward role. This is a good place to share ideas and thoughts with your fellow Stewards to strengthen and support the work.
NOTE: This is not the place to post specific details of ANY grievance or member conversation, confidential information etc. Please make sure you maintain your Oath of Confidentiality in all communications, online and in person.
2 Questions to ask yourself before you post:
- Does it build Solidarity?
- Is it respectful?
If the answer to either question is ‘No’, please think of another way to phrase your post that supports the above 2 questions.
Posts may be removed if they are contrary to the spirit of these guidelines.
Members may be removed from the group if they consistently post in such a way.
*New language has been added to the Collective Agreement between YEU/PSAC and the Government of Yukon. Article 19 Severance provides for voluntary early pay-out of severance pay under certain conditions.
It is important to remember this new provision is voluntary only – there is NO requirement to request an early payout of your severance. All other forms of severance such as the provision for layoff remain intact and are unchanged.
Severance is like a deferred long term savings plan. For every year you work you will have one week of pay set aside for when you retire. For employees who plan to work until they retire, the value of severance is 1 week of pay for each year of service, which is like having an additional 1.9% that is set aside annually for you by the employer.
The monetary “value” of severance varies considerably from person to person depending on years of service, your career plan, and the conditions under which you might expect to take severance pay.
Severance is intended to bridge your time between when you retire and when you get your first pension cheque or provide additional pay in the event you are laid off. There are occasions where several months elapse between the date of retirement and receipt of the first pension payment.
How will the new Voluntary Severance Pay-Out article work?
If you voluntarily take an early payout of your severance, the following applies:
- You can only apply for it when you have at least 5 years of service
- You can only take it in multiples of 5 year blocks
- Early payout of severance means you will only be paid 50% of your regular entitlement. Rather than 1 week’s pay for each year worked, you will receive 1 week’s pay for each 2 years of service
- Severance will be paid out at your current substantive rate of pay
- There may be additional tax implications
If you voluntarily take an early payout of your severance and you are still employed, there may be additional tax payable. Any additional taxes will be your responsibility and will vary from person to person depending on your personal financial situation.
Another important factor to consider is you more than likely will be at a higher pay level when you retire. This means severance will be paid out at a higher level when you retire.
*If you cash out early, you will continue to accrue severance, but like a savings account, once you withdraw severance, it is gone. It can’t be replaced or replenished over time.
*We recommend you do not access this provision unless you absolutely have to.
*For reference, the contract language is below
19.10 Severance Voluntary Pay-Out
A regular employee with at least five (5) years of continuous service may elect to have all or a portion of their accrued severance paid out prior to resignation or retirement, subject to the following conditions:
a) Pay-out must be requested in five-year increments (e.g. 5 years, 10 years, etc.)
b) An employee may request a voluntary severance pay-out each time the employee accrues another five year increment of severance.
c) Request for pay-out must be made by September 30 each year.
d) Voluntary severance will be paid on the pay day falling immediately after November 1.
e) An eligible employee is entitled to be paid by the employer severance pay equal to the product obtained by multiplying the employee’s weekly rate of pay by 1/2 by the number of full-time equivalent completed continuous years of service requested for pay-out to a maximum of 28 weeks.
f) The number of years of voluntary severance paid out will be subtracted from remaining accrued balance of severance for the purposes of Article 19.
g) An employee’s future earning and accrual of severance shall remain unaffected.
The fact finding meeting is over; you may never hear about the issue again, or the employer notifies you that they have come to a conclusion and you’re called for a follow up meeting.
During the meeting your supervisor reads out loud and presents a letter of expectation (LOE); welcome to the performance management stream and the right of the employer to reaffirm the roles, responsibilities and accountability of your position within public service in Yukon.
Firstly, a letter of expectation is not discipline. While it may feel like discipline (and trust me I know this feeling, having been through this process), it is not intended to be, nor is it a disciplinary action.
A properly formatted letter of expectation should clearly outline the issues the employer has identified that need to be rectified, the changes they would like to see, the timeline for this change and the support and resources for assisting with process.
What happens after I receive this letter?
This is a shared responsibility; you as a public servant have been advised of your employment expectations and you should seek to meet the mark. It will feel like there is extra scrutiny on you and this is natural and actually accurate, but not in the “I’m gonna get you” way.
After an LOE is delivered the employer is watching you, not to note your failure but to ensure your success. It is incumbent on the employer to assist you in meeting the requirements of your position and the expectations that have been outlined.
YTG (the employer) needs to provide access to support and resources to ensure you are successful. Bear in mind you are a big part of this success and it is incumbent on you to meet the requirements of your job contract with YTG. As the cliché goes it takes two to tango and for the most part you are the lead in the dance.
How long does the LOE stay in my file?
As letters of expectation are not discipline they are not part of your file. When it comes to your “file” you only have one and this is held at the Public Service Commission (you can make an appointment to see your file with PSC if you would like to review your public service employment file).
Your LOE will be held by your supervisor and will not be in your “file” but will be kept for reference for the timeline provided in the letter. An LOE will be deemed complete at your next PPP (Personal Performance Plan) provided the issues have been resolved and have not continued. Now, if the behavior in the letter continues, this can open up the disciplinary stream (which I will cover in another post). But we all know that this won’t be an issue……..right?
A few other details….
Letters of expectation do not always come from fact finding meetings. Employment behaviors can be noted and dealt with outside of fact finding meetings and delivered at the discretion of the employer.
- Union representation is not required at the presentation of an LOE as they are not disciplinary, however, it is recommended by YTG that if it will be of benefit to the employee YEU representation can be in attendance.
- As always, if there are questions or concerns call the YEU office at 667 2331 or call me directly at 334 4331, remembering there is a timeline for issues of approximately 20 days, so call early and get the answers.
Yours in solidarity,
President, YEU Local Y010
The increased vision care benefit negotiated for YG members in the recently ratified contract is not yet in effect. The union’s team reached consensus with the employer’s team on an increase to the benefit, HOWEVER it cannot come into effect unless and until it is authorized by the Yukon Government’s Minister of Finance.
LETTER OF UNDERSTANDING “X”
CHANGES TO THE INSURED BENEFITS PLAN
The parties recognize that the employee group insurance benefits plan (the “plan”) design is governed by a contract which covers all Government of Yukon employee groups under specified terms and conditions and that the process for recommending any changes to the plan is governed by the Joint Management Committee (JMC) pursuant to the Public Service Group Insurance Benefit Plan Act.
The parties recognize that any proposed changes to the plan made pursuant to the JMC process will be in the form of recommendations, subject to the authority and final decision of the Minister of Finance.
- The parties agree that a recommendation be made to the JMC to raise the vision care maximum to $300 every two years, effective date of renewal.
What does that mean?
The approval will be sought by the JMC at the October 2016 meeting, and a decision returned by the Minister of Finance.
This is the first time we have sought such a change under provider Great West Life, we can tell you that changes can only occur to the plan at the yearly renewal date. That means no change will take place until April 2017. It is still tentative; although these recommendations from the JMC have never been denied in the past, it will not be official or in force until it is signed off by the Minister.
What should you do?
If you need new glasses & reimbursement now, submit your receipt in the normal way for repayment of the previously authorized amount, $200. If you can wait for reimbursement, you can also choose to hold off submitting receipts until after the change takes effect in April of 2017.
YEU will update you once we have more information to share.
It’s another day at work, everything seems to be going well and it’s shaping up to be a good day. Then it happens; you receive a request to attend a meeting the following day and your supervisor advises that you are entitled to bring a union representative to the meeting!
What has happened? Why won’t they tell me what the meeting is about? What are the specifics? Aside from being frustrated that you can’t have these questions answered, being called to a meeting relatively blind is also incredibly stressful.
You have been called to a fact finding meeting.
Fact finding meetings are a very common and normal occurrence in Yukon Government workplaces. When a supervisor or manager receives a complaint or incident report involving a staff member, they are required to investigate – this means they need to talk to you and get your version of the incident or event. If you have been asked to such a meeting, you must attend.
The fact finding meeting is based on the premise that there has been a problematic event or incident of some kind. The employer needs to ask questions to determine what happened. You might not be directly involved; you may have witnessed the incident or have information that may help to make the situation clear.
These sessions are not meant to be punitive, but should offer space for an open and honest dialogue on the event being discussed. These conversations can feel incredibly stressful for the employee and may feel like a cross examination, but that is not the intent. Your union representative will be there with you to protect your rights.
Why do I need a union representative? It is incumbent on the employer to advise an employee of the need for representation if there’s any chance of discipline down the road. Discipline is not always involved, but the employer cannot deny a member representation then dole out discipline after the fact; this goes against the principles of the Collective Agreement as well as the principles of natural justice.
Why won’t they answer my questions about the event or incident before the meeting? Well, this is twofold; while they may state “we are going to be discussing event ABC” they cannot discuss the actual event outside the meeting. Firstly the employer would like to see unchecked, honest reactions to the questions posed. Secondly if the employer engages in this conversation it may be construed as part of the fact finding session when the employee has not yet had an opportunity to secure union representation.
These meetings are usually less than an hour long, depending on the events and issues at hand. During these sessions the employee, the employer or the union representative can ask for a break to have discussions or sidebar chats. These meeting should be, and for the most part are, very respectful and smooth.
What can I say? What can’t I say during these sessions? The intent of these fact findings is to bring the facts to light. The employee is responsible to be open, honest and accountable. Your union representative is there to protect your rights and ensure proper process is followed, but they are not defense attorneys and will not be using legal gamesmanship to avoid the issues at hand.
This is a meeting about FACTS, not about what you may think of a situation. Avoid deflecting accountability by drawing others’ poor behavior into the conversation. The employer may ask what others thought or said, but you should avoid commenting on how you believe others may think or feel about the incident or parties involved.
Do I get to have my say in the meeting? Of course – this is not a one sided barrage or cross examination. During the meeting you will be asked several times if there is anything else you would like to add. This is the time where pertinent items to the event can be offered if they have not been addressed in the questioning. This however is not the time to deflect accountability, point out others’ poor behavior or inject supposition or rumor into the meeting. Your additions should be factual, pertinent and meaningful.
It is also likely that the employer will have investigated the issue by chatting with other employees named in the event. These sessions are confidential and private, and employees are advised not to speak about these meetings outside of the HR/union/supervisory pathways.
How do I get Union representation? Call 867-667-2331 as soon as you’ve been notified of the meeting, and ask for the intake officer. They will ask you for the meeting time & location and ask whether have any idea what the meeting may involve.
Once this information is collected, YEU will make a call to the Shop Steward group to see who is available to attend your meeting. Once the Shop Steward has confirmed their availability, the Steward will contact you to discuss the process and answer your questions prior to the meeting. Some Stewards will contact you well ahead of time while others, depending on time of notification, may make arrangements to speak with you just prior to the meeting.
What can I expect once the meeting is over? Timelines are usually established at the end of the meeting. Your supervisor or the HR Representative will notify you of the timeline and might advise you that another meeting will be requested if more questions arise during their follow up. Generally, the post-meeting fact finding time is one to two weeks.
What will happen to me? This depends on the incident and your role in what transpired. One possible pathway is the performance management stream, another is discipline. I will cover these topics in an upcoming performance management and discipline article on the blog; keep an eye out and have a read.
President – Local Y010