Does OH&S committee work qualify for overtime, weekend premiums, and shift differentials?

United Nurses of Alberta takes the position Occupational Health and Safety Committee work required since Alberta’s new workplace safety legislation took effect on June 1 should be paid at the same rate as any other work.

In other words, work on a Joint Work Site Occupational Health and Safety Committee as defined in the legislation qualifies for overtime pay, premiums and shift differentials if justified under the normal rules of UNA’s collective agreements.

The new Occupational Health and Safety Act requires that any workplace with 20 or more employees have a Joint OH&S Committee if it is expected to operate for 90 days or more. The Act says that when a committee member attends meetings, training, or does other committee work required by the law, the member is deemed to be at work and is to be paid at the applicable rate of pay.

Alberta Health Services has published a bulletin stating attendance at OH&S meetings and training will be paid at the basic rate of pay while other required committee work that cannot take place within a committee’s regularly scheduled shift is subject to overtime, premiums, and shift differentials. Such circumstances include preparing for meetings and participating in inspections and investigations, the bulletin says.

In the case of Covenant Health, however, UNA representatives at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital in Edmonton have been informed OH&S Committee members’ work should be done during normal working hours, and in cases where it does not the employer will only compensate employees at their “basic rate of pay.”

Basic Rate of Pay is defined in the Provincial Collective Agreement as the step in the scale applicable to the employee as set out in the Salary Appendix, along with educational allowances and the Long Service Pay Adjustment, but not including of all other allowances and premium payments.

UNA’s position is that all committee work – including attendance at OH&S meetings, OH&S training, and preparing for meetings and participating in inspections and investigations – is subject to overtime, weekend premiums, and shift differentials when the appropriate conditions outlined by the collective agreement are met. 

As a result, UNA has filed a grievance, which is proceeding.

While the grievance process moves forward, UNA encourages members who do OH&S Committee work at times they would normally qualify for overtime, shift premiums or shift differentials to submit that for time as they normally would.

If the overtime, weekend premiums, or shift differentials are denied, please notify us by email immediately.

UNA is seeking the following information: a brief description of the committee work performed; the date and time it took place; what premiums, differentials, and overtime the employee claimed; when it was denied; if overtime was requested, and the circumstances that led to the employee to qualify for overtime. For example, if the committee meeting took place after the employee’s shift. If the request was denied in writing, please send a copy to your Labour Relations Officer.

If your Labour Relations Officer agrees you should have been paid a higher amount, they may talk to you about filing a grievance. However, since this issue is being determined province-wide, it is unlikely it will proceed through the normal steps of the grievance process. Instead, it is likely that the grievance will be put on hold until the provincial grievance has been resolved. If UNA is successful in the provincial grievance, you will be paid at that time.

If you have questions related to pay issues, please contact your local executive or your Labour Relations Officer by calling 780-425-1025 or 1-800-252-9394. If you have any questions about the new OH&S Act, please contact UNA Occupational Health and Safety Advisor Dewey Funk at, 780-425-1025, or 1-800-252-9394.

This article was written by UNA Labour Relations Officer Julia Renouf with files from UNA OHS Advisor Dewey Funk. It appeared in the Fall 2018 edition of the UNA News Bulletin.