The Impact of the Mediator’s Recommended Terms of Settlement on Teachers’ Pay
The Mediator’s Recommended Terms of Settlement, ratified on June 10, 2022, provides for a 0.5 per cent increase to teacher pay upon ratification. This increase for the month of June should be calculated according to the following formula:
1/200 of annual salary × 0.5% × the number of operational days
from June 10 to 30, 2022 = increase to June pay
Using a $90,000 annual salary base,
[($90,000/200) × 0.005] × 14 = $31.5 gross increase to June pay
Note that the increase only applies to earnings after the date of ratification. Consequently, as summer pay is based on the withholding of earnings during the operational calendar, teachers will not notice a significant change in their summer pay with only a slight margin based on the increase to pay in June for the remaining operational days worked after June 10, 2022. Find out more about how summer pay is calculated here.
While the settlement included 0.5 per cent upon ratification, teachers will see another 1.25 per cent on September 1, 2022, and a final 2 per cent on September 1, 2023. Each increase compounds upon the previous one.
For example, a teacher with a $90,000 salary earns $90,450 effective June 10, 2022. On September 1, 2022, this salary increases to $91,580.63, and on September 1, 2023, it increases to $93,412.24.
A teacher’s annual salary (found in the collective agreement) is based on years of education (as determined by Teacher Qualifications Service) and years of experience (also in the collective agreement).
Teachers are advised to check their pay information every month. This is particularly important after the scheduled increases in the grid rate. At the beginning of each school year, ensure that your education and experience are accurate, especially as you are “climbing the grid,” and that your annual salary is correct (check your collective agreement). Review the deductions and ensure that they are correct. Teachers may not receive back-pay if paid incorrectly. However, if overpaid, teachers are expected to repay the school division.
Every subsequent month, review any changes to your net pay. Do not forget that there will be an increase in your net pay in the latter half of the calendar year as you reach maximum annual deductions for the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and employment insurance (EI). This also means that you will see a reduction in pay in January as CPP and EI are deducted from your salary again.
The Mediator’s Recommended Terms of Settlement, ratified on June 10, 2022, improved all teachers’ salaries. Check your pay statement carefully to ensure that your salary reflects the settlement increases. #WEAREATA
The end of the school year is near. Your principal approaches you to inform that you will be teaching the same grade next year but in a different classroom down the hall, and that you will be required to move all of your classroom’s contents, including some furniture, to this new classroom. What do you do?
First, whether it is about moving classroom contents to another room or any other task that you are directed to do, it is generally good advice to speak with your principal about any of your concerns. Often, the situation can be resolved by engaging in a professional dialogue with your principal in which you respectfully raise your concerns, and working with your principal to find a creative solution to the problem that focuses on meeting everyone’s interests. Don’t hesitate to contact the Association’s Teacher Employment Services (TES) for strategies that can assist with this.
Regarding your obligations, a teacher’s statutory duties are found in section 196 of the Education Act, and they generally include such duties as instructing students in the appropriate programs of study, encouraging and fostering learning in students, regularly assessing students and reporting the results to students, parents, and the board, and maintaining order and discipline among students. However, one broad additional statutory obligation on teachers is
196(1) A teacher, while providing instruction or supervision must
(g) subject to any applicable collective agreement and the teacher’s contract of employment, carry out the duties that are assigned to the teacher by the principal or the board.
Would a teacher’s obligations under section 196(1)(g) apply to a teacher being directed to physically move the contents of their classroom to another space?
To answer this question, there are some important considerations. As moving a classroom’s contents including furniture is not, strictly speaking, an instructional duty, who is the correct person to perform this task? Are the items you are being asked to move owned by you, or by the school division? How large or heavy are the items? Is it possible to move the items safely with no risk of injury to yourself or others? Are there any medical reasons that would preclude you from moving these items?
As mentioned earlier, section 196 of the Education Act outlines a teacher’s statutory obligations, and these are generally instructional in nature. Because moving classroom contents including furniture is not an instructional duty, it would normally not be the responsibility of a teacher. In fact, the task of moving furniture and other items may even be explicitly articulated in the allocation of duties of a different group of employees, such as caretakers. If these employees are unionized, by performing their duties you may unintentionally be taking work away from another bargaining unit.
Another important factor to consider is ownership of the items. If you are being asked to move furniture or large items that are owned by the school division, then, as mentioned above, there is an argument that you are not responsible to move those items given that it is not an instructional duty. However, if the items that you are being directed to move are your personal property that you purchased (without being reimbursed) and brought to your classroom, it is not the responsibility of the school division to move those items.
If moving items is not the work of another bargaining unit and you agree to move school division-owned items to your new classroom, safety is critical. How large or heavy are the items? Can you carry them by yourself? If not, is there someone available to assist you? Is there any equipment that is being made available to you, such as a dolly? Have you highlighted any hazards to your principal and, if so, have any hazard controls been put in place? Be sure to highlight any OH&S issues to your principal to ensure that you can safely move these items without risk of injury to yourself or others.
Additionally, depending on your individual medical situation, you may not be able to physically move heavy items. If you are directed to move items to your new classroom and you have concerns about physically being able to do so, raise those concerns with your principal to explore alternative options. It may be necessary for you to see your doctor for advice, and if your doctor feels it is necessary to put medical restrictions on your duties, your doctor should be willing to write you a note indicating what functional limitations you have on the duties that you can perform.
Most conflicts can be resolved with respectful discussion with your principal. Address any concerns about this or any other directive with them to find an informal solution first. If this turns out to be unsuccessful, it may be advisable to formally protest this directive in writing.
This is a complex issue, and much of the related advice is nuanced and situational. If you have any questions about this matter, call TES for advice for advice that is specific to your circumstances.
Moving classrooms can raise some important issues regarding your rights and obligations—call Teacher Employment Services at 1-800-232-7208 for assistance. #WEAREATA
Looking for a change? This is the time of year when teachers begin considering their options for the fall and, depending on their life circumstances, may be thinking about resigning their teaching contract. Whether the resignation is for the purpose of looking for employment in another school division or for retirement (if so, congratulations!), it is important for you to know your rights and obligations.
Resignation is not an easy decision. If you are on the fence, consider requesting a full-time unpaid leave of absence instead. Although an unpaid leave of absence is discretionary, if granted, it may be a way for you to keep your foot in the door in case you want or need to return to your current school division. Be sure to disclose to your employer the intent of the leave. Using a leave of absence for reasons inconsistent with those you provided at the time you requested the leave could be problematic. It is also wise to maintain your benefits during this leave to ensure that there is no gap in any income replacement insurance, such as Extended Disability Benefits, that is part of your benefits package. You also might wish to consider purchasing pensionable service from the Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund (ATRF). Contact ATRF about this option. If you choose to purchase pensionable service, be sure to do so as soon as possible after returning from your leave, because the cost of this service balloons if you delay. Consult your collective agreement or call Teacher Employment Services to find out more about the specific details of an unpaid leave of absence.
If you decide to resign, ensure that your resignation is done properly. If you are teaching on a temporary, probationary or interim contract that ends on June 30, you will not need to formally resign if you intend to work until your contract ends naturally on June 30. However, if you wish to resign your contract early or, in the case of a continuing contract, resign at any time, ensure that your resignation is consistent with the relevant provisions of the Education Act. Regardless of the type of teaching contract, if you wish to resign, you will have to provide 30 calendar days’ written notice to your school division. However, this rule changes slightly near vacation periods. Section 217 of the Education Act reads:
217(1) . . . a notice of termination of a contract of employment . . . must not be given by a board or a teacher
(a) in the 30 days preceding, or
a vacation period of 14 or more days’ duration.
This means that if you wish to end your contract near a vacation period, you will need to ensure that the school division receives your letter of resignation at least 30 days prior to the beginning of the vacation period. In some circumstances, however, it may not be possible for you to provide as much notice as is required by the Education Act. If this is the case, your school division may be agreeable to accepting your resignation by mutual agreement. If your school division is not agreeable, please call Teacher Employment Services to review your options.
When you resign your teaching contract, it is important to remember that your benefits will cease when your employment ends. For this reason, you should ensure that you have made any qualifying purchases and booked any necessary qualifying appointments (such as dental, optometry, chiropractic, physiotherapy and psychological appointments) prior to your last day of employment to ensure that you are covered for any related eligible expenses. There may be a period of time after your employment ends, called a runoff period, in which you can still submit eligible expenses to your health or wellness spending account, as long as those expenses were incurred before the date your employment ended. Consult with your benefits provider for more details.
If you are resigning to work in another school division next year, it is advisable to make your last official day of employment with your current school division as late as possible to ensure that you have benefit coverage until your new teaching contract starts. For example, if you have a new teaching contract beginning August 28, consider making your official resignation date with your current school division August 27. However, if you are resigning for the purpose of retirement, it is more financially advantageous for you to make your resignation effective the last operational day of the school year so that you can start collecting your pension in July. Please call Teacher Employment Services with any questions.
Resigning a teaching contract can present challenging considerations and decisions for teachers. Learn your rights and obligations. Call Teacher Employment Services at 1‑800‑232‑7208. #WEAREATA
The Nature of Teaching Duties (Part 2)—Duties in Classroom Instruction and the Role of Professional Time
Along with instructional time and assignable time, teachers have a professional responsibility for activities such as planning, preparation, marking and reporting.
A 2015 survey conducted by RA Malatest & Associates Ltd for the Ministry of Education examined teacher workload and found that an “average of approximately 80 minutes of additional activity accompanies each 60 minutes of instruction.”
Assignable time caps have existed for a long time and were added to all collective agreements in the first round of central bargaining in the 2012–16 round of bargaining. However, the professional time teachers spend to meet their practice obligations is unregulated. In general, professional timecan be defined as the time that is directed by teachers themselves.
• The when and the where determined by the teacher
• Time outside of the school day
• Time free from instruction
• Before and after school, unless assigned supervision or expected to be somewhere
• Weekends and holidays
Teachers have a duty to prepare adequately for daily teaching assignments and to plan each subject’s semester/year work to promote orderly development and progress. Planning units and creating instructional materials are professional time, because the teacher decides on the plan and materials for their students.
To conscientiously prepare lessons, the teacher must know exactly what is to be attempted from the beginning to the end of each lesson period. This is why planning is so time-consuming. As teachers should have a clear idea of how they and their students will accomplish the objectives, the teacher must make decisions about the method of presentation; proportions of teacher and student activity; student assignments, both in class and for homework; and other materials and instructional supports that will be used.
It would be absurd to attempt here to specify the length or nature of this preparation, since it will vary widely depending on the subject, the topic, and the experience and qualifications of the teacher. Additionally, no two teachers could, or should, present a lesson in exactly the same way. The methods by which a professional person practices are a matter for individual decision. It follows, then, that the amount of professional time allocated to preparation will also be individual to each teacher.
The methods by which a professional person practices are a matter for individual decision, so it follows that the amount of professional time allocated to preparation will also be individual to each teacher. #WEAREATA
Eligible Educator School Supply Tax Credit (Line 46900)
Unfortunately, it appears that teachers who claimed Line 46900--Eligible educator school supply tax credit(Line 46900) on their 2021 tax return will experience delays with their Notice of Assessment (and subsequent refunds).
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has informed teachers who have inquired about their returns that they would not be processing the 2021 tax returns for anyone who has claimed Line 46900 until the Royal Assent of Bill C-8 has been passed. Bill C-8 includes an increase in the School Supplies Tax Credit from 15 per cent to 25 per cent. Based on inquiries by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation/Fédération canadienne des enseignantes et des enseignants (CTF/FCE), it appears that due to the combined effect of the late fall economic update that included the increased commitment, the late tabling of the bill to legislate the change and the minority government scenario, the government has been unable to pass this piece of legislation in the timeline they expected. As a result, teachers who claimed Line 46900 for their 2021 tax return should expect to see a delay of their Notice of Assessment.
The CTF/FCE has reached out to the Government of Canada to express their dissatisfaction that this expected delay was not communicated sooner and that other options outside of an indefinite delay until the Royal Assent of Bill C-8 were not explored. The CTF/FCE have written to staff in the Minister of Finance’s Office, the Minister of National Revenue’s Office and the Commissioner of Revenue’s Office. To date, only the Minister of National Revenue’s staff have responded and, while they recognized the severity of the issue and have agreed to provide support, they have encouraged the CTF/FCE to work directly with the Commissioner of Revenue.
If you are experiencing these delays, you are encouraged to contact the CTF/FCE’s Advocacy and Government Relations Coordinator, Mark Garcia via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additionally, if you wish to express your concerns about these delays and the lack of communication from the CRA or the Government of Canada, you are encouraged to contact your local Member of Parliament to advocate for better channels of communication between the federal government and the CTF/FCE.
Teachers who claimed Line 46900--Eligible educator school supply tax credit for their 2021 tax return should expect to be seeing a delay of their Notices of Assessment. If you are experiencing these delays, you are encouraged to contact the CTF/FCE’s Advocacy and Government Relations Coordinator, Mark Garcia via e-mail at email@example.com.