February 22, 2019

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Maternity pay gets a bump for teachers in Thompson

School boards across Manitoba advised they could be affected

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/5/2015 (1375 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Thompson teachers have won a small but precedent-setting victory in improvements to maternity benefits.

The question remains whether this gain will lead to all Manitoba teachers getting more extensive benefits.

The Manitoba School Boards Association alerted its members the School District of Mystery Lake and its teachers avoided a grievance arbitration by agreeing to improved benefits. The association warned Manitoba school boards their teachers will be using the Thompson agreement in their own negotiations or grievances.

The association has told school trustees Thompson teachers will receive maternity leave top-up to 90 per cent of regular salary if the 10-day waiting period for employment insurance falls on days they would not normally be teaching.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/5/2015 (1375 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Thompson teachers have won a small but precedent-setting victory in improvements to maternity benefits.

The question remains whether this gain will lead to all Manitoba teachers getting more extensive benefits.

Paul Olson

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Paul Olson

The Manitoba School Boards Association alerted its members the School District of Mystery Lake and its teachers avoided a grievance arbitration by agreeing to improved benefits. The association warned Manitoba school boards their teachers will be using the Thompson agreement in their own negotiations or grievances.

The association has told school trustees Thompson teachers will receive maternity leave top-up to 90 per cent of regular salary if the 10-day waiting period for employment insurance falls on days they would not normally be teaching.

'It's normal until someone reminds you how ridiculous it is'— Paul Olson

Manitoba Teachers' Society president Paul Olson said the decision means teachers will receive top-up for 17 weeks and effectively extend maternity leave if it covers time they would not normally be teaching.

Full-time teachers who are permanently employed by a school division are entitled to receive 17 weeks of maternity leave, but they get top-up over and above employment insurance benefits only on days when they would normally be teaching.

Teachers on maternity leave do not receive any top-up benefits during July and August, the December and March break weeks, and on statutory holidays falling on weekdays during the school year.

The Thompson deal means teachers on maternity leave can effectively "hit the pause button" on top-up, said Olson, who acknowledges wading through a "bizarre" collection of benefits rules "is a tough slog."

Before the deal, he said, a Thompson teacher having a baby in late June would be off for 17 weeks of maternity leave, but get top-up only for the eight weeks or so she would normally be teaching. She would return to work in late October after 17 weeks.

Now, Olson said, a Thompson teacher taking maternity leave June 15 will get two weeks of top-up in June, and another 15 weeks of top-up when classes start after Labour Day. She wouldn't have to return to work until January.

Olson said similar situations are on the bargaining table in a few divisions. As for contracts settled to 2017 or 2018, if both sides agree, "You can add it any times that it makes sense to you."

The association is telling school boards: "We expect that divisions currently involved in contract negotiations with teachers and/or who have received a grievance or letter regarding the division's practice of maternity leave top-up will be contacted by your local association seeking resolve based on this settlement."

The situation has prevailed for so long it has become accepted as the norm, Olson said. "It's normal until someone reminds you how ridiculous it is.

"It's an obvious equity piece."

Olson said women make up 73 per cent of Manitoba public school teachers, and the majority of women hired in the past 15 years are in their child-bearing years.

The superintendent and school board chairwoman in Mystery Lake did not respond to interview requests.

Association executive director Carolyn Duhamel said both the regulations and the Thompson agreement are complex.

"The amount of money involved would vary depending on the salary being received by the teacher at the time of the leave, the amount of EI being received, and the dates of the actual leave itself," she said.

Duhamel said the agreement in Thompson applies immediately only to teachers in the School District of Mystery Lake.

View the negotiated agreement at wfp.to/matleave.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

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