Classification is one of the more contentious issues for members in the workplace.
The majority of problems regarding classification involve members who feel their level of compensation is not equitable with the work they perform. Since pay rates are linked to classification levels, the only recourse to receiving greater compensation is to seek a higher classification level.
There are two basic reasons why a member's classification level may be inappropriate. In either case, the process to address the issue is the same:
- The initial classification decision was flawed;
- The job evolved over time and the classification level is out of date.
For members covered by Treasury Board legislation, there is an established process to follow to address classification issues. For members employed by agencies or private sector companies, please consult the appropriate collective agreement.
Most collective agreements include a clause which allows a member to request an accurate, current description of their duties, also known as a work description (WD). This clause is often referred to as Statement of Duties.
The member must make a written request (email) to their direct supervisor for a copy of the WD, citing the appropriate article in the collective agreement. It is recommended that the member give a deadline (e.g. 30 days) for management to complete the request.
Once the WD is received, the onus is on the member to thoroughly review the WD and determine whether it accurately reflects their day-to-day duties. If the WD is accurate and the member believes they are mis-classified, they should contact their steward as soon as possible in order to file a classification grievance.
The Public Service Labour Relations Act and Regulations allows employees to formally challenge the group and level of their position by submitting a classification grievance within 35 calendar days of receipt of this notification.
If the WD does not accurately reflect the duties of the member (duties are either understated or missing completely), then they should contact their steward as soon as possible in order to file a job content grievance. This grievance differs from a classification grievance in that it targets the textual content rather than the level attributed to the WD. The member must be prepared to work with the steward to identify the duties which are either missing or mirepresented.
Once the job content issues have been resolved, then the employer must render a revised classification decision. If the decision does not resolve the classification issue, then a classification grievance can still be filed. It's important to note that even though a job content grievance can be successful, the revisions/additions may not be enough to warrant an upwards reclassification. It's a numbers game and a position must meet the threshold rating to be changed.
An important component to a job content or classification grievance is the level of retroactivity allowed in the case of a reclassification. This is especially relevant in cases where a position has evolved over time.
If management refuses to complete the request under the collective agreement for a current WD, then the member should contact their steward as soon as possible in order to file a grievance against the breach of the collective agreement.
In both job content and classification grievances, it is recommended that the member include an additional pay grievance stating the date when the activities leading to the reclassification began.