The case was referred to an arbitrator after a nurse employed by the territorial government requested special leave when she married. While she worked 12-hour shifts, the government said he was entitled to be paid only for a 7.5-hour workday for each day off to reflect her part-time status. “There is no indication that the arbitrator neglected or misinterpreted the GNWT`s interpretation of the agreement. She simply disagreed,” the judge wrote. The reason for the worker`s request for leave was not a typical medical appointment according to the normal purpose of the leave, but the collective agreement also allowed for “purposes of a special or unusual nature” or when a physician requires “regular or recurrent medical treatment.” The worker`s treatment program is such a goal, the arbitrator said. UNW argued that it was customary to grant occasional leave to employees in order to attend appointments that were “casual and do not significantly affect the operational requirements of their workplace.” During the arbitration proceedings, the manager, who manages the special leave at Stanton Territorial Hospital, said the same special leave approach had been used for part-time facilitators for several years and had not been challenged before. The government also argued that the arbitrator`s decision is unfair, since doctors who take special leave are paid more hours per day off than other government employees. The arbitrator noted that the casual leave provision of the collective agreement states that the employer may “grant” the leave and not “shall”. Workers were entitled to casual leave if they met certain criteria, but the employer had the discretion to grant it – although this discretion was not “unlimited”, since the collective agreement also stipulated that “this type of casual leave should not be inappropriately refused”, the arbitrator said. The arbitration found that GNT violated the collective agreement by rejecting the request for casual leave.
However, given that the worker still withdrew from the program after agreeing to the adapted work schedules, there was no evidence that the worker suffered a financial or other loss. As a result, there were no damages. The arbitrator found that physicians are entitled to 12 hours per day of special leave. . . .