Changes to Employment Insurance
The employment insurance system has been amended as of September 26, 2021. Many of the key changes will apply only to new claims made for benefits beginning September 26, 2021 and are still pandemic related.
Teachers applying for employment insurance (EI) will need to have worked a minimum number of hours to qualify for benefits. Previously, teachers needed 600 hours to qualify for maternity or parental benefits; if they applied for regular benefits, the number of insurable hours required to qualify varied in different parts of the province, based on local labour market conditions.
Over the last year, all new EI applicants received a one-time hours top-up to help them qualify, but this requirement has been amended. As a result, teachers will need to have accumulated 420 hours of insurable employment during their qualifying period to be eligible for EI benefits until September 24, 2022.
Further, to access EI sickness benefits, teachers will now be required to submit a medical certificate proving they are ill and unable to work. The requirement was waived temporarily over the last year because of COVID-19.
Maternity and Parental Benefits
Employment Insurance maternity and parental benefits entitle teachers to receive 55 per cent of their earnings, to a maximum of $595 per week. If a teacher’s claim starts between September 26, 2021 and November 20, 2021, the teacher will receive at least $300 per week before taxes, but could receive more. For extended parental benefits, teachers will receive at least $180 per week before taxes, but could also receive more. The weekly floor is planned to apply to claims made between September 26 and November 20.
No one with an existing EI claim will experience any changes to the value or duration of their benefits under these new rules.
Recent changes to Employment Insurance will affect Alberta teachers as of September 26, 2021. Teachers willneed to have accumulated 420 hours of insurable employment during their qualifying period to be eligible for EI benefits until September 24, 2022. #WEAREATA
We need your feedback.
Central table bargaining is getting going and we need to finalise our opening position. Teachers have already completed their bargaining needs survey, and we have taken that information to inform our draft initial proposal. Now we need to hear from you as to whether that draft meets your expectations.
We invite you to attend a large-scale webcast and/or an interactive telephone townhall to hear about the main components of the draft proposal and to provide your feedback.
You may attend either, or both, of these events.
Date: Tuesday, September 21
Time: 6:00 – 8:00 PM MST
Registration is not required to attend, but you will need to enter the Member’s Only section of the website to view the webinar.
The link to the webinar webpage will be posted at www.teachers.ab.ca on Tuesday afternoon.
Date: Wednesday September 22
Time: 6:00 – 7:30 PM MST
All teachers will receive a phone call on September 22, with an invite to participate.
Make sure your information is correct at profile.teachers.ab.ca; If your phone number is missing or incorrect, contact Kate.Toogood@ata.ab.ca to be added to the list.
If you have any questions about these events, please contact Kate.Toogood@ata.ab.ca
The Alberta Teachers' Association
Worth Doing B-21 (2021 09 15)
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Retirement Sessions—Mark Your Calendar!
The Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA), through its Teacher Employment Services program area, offers a variety of retirement information sessions and consultation opportunities for teachers.
The following events are available to attend (either virtually or in person) in your area.
Together, teachers and their pension partner will explore planning for retirement, the changing character of retirement and the process of making important decisions. Teachers will learn about financial and lifestyle planning before, during and after retirement from a teacher’s perspective. They will investigate various aspects of retirement, including building a financial plan, the Alberta Teachers’ Pension Plan, wills and estates, benefits, and lifestyle planning for a successful and rewarding retirement.
2021/22 Workshop Dates
Saturday, November 13, 2021 (Calgary Catholic teachers only)—To register, access this Google Form.
Saturday, December 4, 2021 (Regional—South)—Information to follow.
Saturday, March 5, 2022 (All regions—for teachers who missed the earlier workshop dates)—Information to follow.
Understanding Your Pension—Pension Education for Early Service Teachers (Online Only)
This evening session for early service teachers will be offered twice during the school year. General information will be presented on the Alberta Teachers’ Pension Plan, personal savings planning, federal benefits and other retirement income sources. The focus will be on the value of forward planning early in a teacher’s career. Debt reduction and savings planning will be emphasized. Pension partners are also encouraged to attend.
2021/22 Session Dates
Wednesday, October 20, 2021 (7:00 pm)—Information to follow.
Wednesday, March 2, 2022 (7:00 pm)—Information to follow.
Retirement Planning for Women (Online Only)
This session will focus on retirement planning specifically for female teachers. Women and men face different challenges in their lives, and those challenges can have financial consequences. Women live longer, which means that they will likely spend more years alone; therefore, they need more retirement savings so that they don’t outlive their money. Teachers will have the opportunity to engage in this interactive workshop that aims to improve women’s financial literacy and confidence.
2021/22 Session Dates
Wednesday, October 27, 2021 (7:00 pm)—Information to follow.
Wednesday, March 9, 2022 (7:00 pm)—Information to follow
Visit the ATA website for up-to-date information about sessions planned for your area. The website will be updated with registration information closer to each date.
Hazard assessments, a requirement of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) legislation, play a key role in health and safety at the workplace. Hazard assessments must be completed before any work takes place at the school, and should be reviewed at regular intervals, or when something changes the way that the work is done. Typically, hazard assessments are done at the start of every school year. Under the OHS Act, school divisions have the obligation to include teachers (workers) and other workers in the building in conducting hazard assessments. Hazard assessments are specific to the work being done, and therefore some teaching assignments may have additional controls in place due to additional hazards associated with that particular assignment. School divisions (employers), via the principals (supervisors), must communicate known hazards and the controls in place so that everyone working in the school know how to work safely.
OHS is always part of a teacher’s working conditions. While COVID‑19 amplified this, respiratory illness has always been included as a potential hazard identifiable in the OHS hazard assessment for work sites. It should continue to be a focus for controls in the upcoming school year. All workplace hazards, including those associated with COVID-19, should be on the hazard assessment, as well as the measures in place to eliminate or control those hazards. This information needs to be available to all workers in the building. School divisions must eliminate the hazards where possible. If it is not possible to eliminate a hazard, the hazard must be controlled to the lowest level of risk possible by following a hierarchy:
· First choice: Engineering controls to modify the worksite to isolate people from a hazard.
· Second choice: Administrative controls to change how and when the work is done to control a hazard.
· Third choice: Personal Protective Equipment provided to workers to wear to protect them while working.
While the controls are considered in a hierarchy, they are also frequently identified as a part of a suite of controls. This means it is the combination of controls that is required to ensure the hazards are controlled as effectively as possible. Employers can choose to strengthen controls beyond the minimum recommendations of the chief medical officer of health in order to ensure the health and safety of everyone in the schools.
Vaccinations can be part of the recommended controls included in the hazard assessment as a measure taken to reduce the hazards associated with COVID-19. As a teacher, you have responsibilities in ensuring the health and safety of everyone at your school. This includes providing feedback on the controls in place or suggesting additional controls, reporting unhealthy or unsafe conditions in a timely matter, and following the health and safety plan of your school.
If you have individual concerns that are not part of the OHS hazard assessment but have implications for your health and safety while at work, speak with your doctor. If your doctor identifies limitations and restrictions, you will be required to provide medical documentation from your doctor to your employer to ensure that accommodations are put in place. Call Teacher Employment Services for more information (1-800-232-7208).
The following links provide more information about the role of hazard assessments:
Hazard Assessment and Control: A Handbook for Alberta Employers and Workers
COVID-19 as a workplace hazard
Hazard assessments are a critical piece in ensuring the health and safety of everyone at the school. They need to be completed before the school year begins and then at regular intervals and when something changes in how the work in the school is done. #WEAREATA
Extracurricular activities are a great way to work with students in a noninstructional setting and can often be a rewarding experience for teachers as they watch students develop new skills and have fun. For this and a host of other reasons, many teachers choose to help organize and facilitate extracurricular activities for students each school year. Although many teachers choose to do so on a voluntary basis, sometimes teachers are pressured or directed to do so. What are a teacher’s obligations in such a situation?
To determine a teacher’s obligations regarding mandated extracurricular activities, it is necessary to review several areas. One is the teacher’s individual contract of employment. Although many contracts of employment are silent on the matter of extracurricular activity, some teaching contracts may include clauses that state the teacher agrees they will be required to perform “any extracurricular duties as may be required by the Division, through its administrators, from time to time, and as may be reasonably required.” It is recommended that teachers review their individual contract of employment to see if such clauses exist.
The second area is the Education Act. Even if a teacher’s individual contract of employment is silent on the matter of extracurricular activities, a principal has the authority to direct a teacher to perform certain tasks. This right of a principal is found in section 197 of the Education Act:
197 A principal of a school must
(e) direct the management of the school,
Although this is quite a general clause, it does give the school’s principal the statutory right to direct a teacher, which could include a directive to perform an extracurricular activity. However, a directive such as this does come with some limits. Any such directive must be reasonable in the circumstances, and cannot be contrary to any rights of a teacher in the collective agreement, which is the third area to review.
Collective agreements across Alberta vary widely on a teacher’s rights and obligations regarding extracurricular activities. Some collective agreements include language that clearly articulates that a teacher’s involvement in such activities is strictly voluntary, while other agreements state that the extent of staff involvement in extracurricular activities “shall be determined by the principal and the principal’s staff.”
Another important consideration with the collective agreement is assignable time. A teacher’s collective agreement may contain a clause that limits the amount of time, called assignable time, that a teacher can be assigned to perform tasks. If a teacher is directed to perform extracurricular activities, and the teacher’s collective agreement permits, such activities can be assigned to a teacher, but only to the limit allowed by any existing assignable time clause in the collective agreement and within a reasonable work day.
It is important to note that teachers have always had the ability, within contractual limitations, to decide for themselves what extracurricular activities they are willing to do. As they progress through their careers, a teacher’s ability to donate their time and talents may change. This may be the result of many factors, such as but not limited to, family commitments, birth of a child, and general workload. Teachers need to be sure they find a balance that allows them to meet their commitments, both professional and personal. Give your best, not your all.
Given the wide variation possible in a teacher’s individual contract of employment, clauses in their collective agreement and potential directives by their principal, a teacher’s rights and obligations regarding extracurricular activities can be highly contextual. It is recommended that teachers call Teacher Employment Services for advice specific to their individual circumstances.
Many teachers in Alberta choose to voluntarily organize and facilitate extracurricular activities for students. But what about when a teacher is directed to do so? The answer is specific to a teacher’s circumstances and is found by reviewing their individual contract of employment and their collective agreement. For contextual advice, call Teacher Employment Services at 1‑800‑232-7208. #WEAREATA