Question: With education funding unknown for next year, I have been hearing about potential job losses. Can my employer simply terminate my contract in order to balance the budget?
Answer: It is important to note that all contracts are outlined in the Education Act and the process to terminate a contract are found in section 215 of the act. However, before we talk about termination, we need to look at the various contracts being used.Contract terminations must follow due process
Temporary and interim teaching contracts end on June 30, unless another date is specified in the contract. Probationary contracts also end on June 30. In these cases, the teachers’ employment is not being terminated; rather, the contract expires and there is no obligation by the board to offer any further employment to these teachers, even in the case of successful evaluations of practice.
Teachers who hold a continuing contract have no end date to their contract, so a board would need to make a recommendation to terminate that contract. This is clearly outlined in section 215 of the act and in board policy. A teacher needs to be given notice of the board’s intention to terminate a continuing contract. This is followed by a hearing either before the board of trustees or the superintendent, who will make the final decision about terminating a contract. Teachers may wish to challenge the termination recommendation and/or appeal the decision, and Association staff are available to assist with these processes.
If a school board needs to reduce its teaching staff, board policy outlines the process to be followed. Teachers on temporary, interim and probationary contracts are the first to have their employment expire. If these reductions are insufficient and continuing contract positions need to be reduced, the board is obligated to follow its policy. The least senior teachers in the division, pending any school division needs, would be expected to be the first to be terminated. The board would work its way up the seniority list until a sufficient number of positions have been terminated. It would be contrary to board policy to simply choose the required number of positions to eliminate without following due process. It is also important to note that these are divisionwide decisions, not school-based decisions, so termination of some contracts could result in other teachers being transferred to fill those newly vacant positions.
As teachers, you are reminded to avoid signing or agreeing to any changes to your employment status without first speaking with staff in Teacher Employment Services. Even the decision to work part time in order to save a position could have long-lasting negative effects on your income and your pension.
I want to thank the following colleagues in Teacher Employment Services for their assistance in preparing this response: Robert Mazzotta (co-ordinator) and Keith Hadden (associate co-ordinator/SARO). If you have questions about your employment, please call Teacher Employment Services at Barnett House or at SARO. ❚
Questions for consideration in this column are welcome. Please address them to Dennis Theobald at Barnett House (email@example.com).