Collective Bargaining

Understanding your rights: Religious observance

As part of our lead up to this round of collective bargaining, some members of the FI Community asked if it is discriminatory to prevent an employee from taking paid leave on days of religious significance in exchange for working on religious statutory holidays.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the fundamental freedom of conscience and religion subject only to “such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

The Canadian Human Rights Act further provides that it’s discriminatory to directly or indirectly differentiate adversely on a prohibited ground of discrimination, including national or ethnic origin and religion.

Lastly, Article 23 of the FI Collective Agreement provides that the employer must make every reasonable effort to accommodate an FI who requests time off to fulfill his or her religious obligations.

ACFO believes that an equal number of cultural and religious holidays celebrated by all our members should be accommodated though the provision of paid leave. In particular, where statutory holidays are provided to recognize one religion, we feel it should be open to members to request that holiday be exchanged for a holiday recognizing religious and cultural significance to them.

As one of the largest employers in Canada with the clear ability to accommodate telework it is time for more equitable treatment.

The ACFO negotiating team continues to press for this recognition at the bargaining table and we would appreciate hearing from members who are interested in the accommodation of their cultural and religious freedoms.

If you are interested in assisting with this important work please contact Labour Relations at labourrelations@acfo-acaf.com.

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