Pregnant, a letter carrier denounces a sharp reduction in her working hours

At 21 weeks pregnant, Catherine Lehoux thinks daily about her financial situation. However, I am an employee of Canada Post. I should have good conditionsshe shouts.

Fortunately, she and her unborn baby are healthy. Like any future parent, she wants it to stay that way. His doctor too.

I obtained a certificate of limitations [du médecin] because part of my work is demanding and there is a risk. The medical certificate says that I must minimize the dangerunderlines this resident of Saint-Joseph-de-Coleraine, near Thetford Mines.

She is therefore not in a situation where preventive withdrawal is necessary.

I am able to work, and I want to work. I just don’t want to take any risks. »

A quote from Catherine Lehoux

Two hours of sorting per day

Thus, after a discussion with the Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) – Quebec region, the employer agreed to accommodate the letter carrier. However, his working hours have dropped sharply.

So I only do the three hours of sorting per day of my task. But, on a work week, normally 37 hours, it really makes a big difference on paylaments Catherine Lehoux.

Under federal jurisdiction, it is not the principles of the Commission for Equity in Health and Safety at Work (CNESST) that apply to Canada Post, but the Canada Labor Code. This is much less specific as to the remuneration of pregnant workers who must be reassigned.

Conservative MP Luc Berthold, from the riding of Mégantic—L’Érable, says he is very concerned about this situation.

It is inconceivable that even today, women find themselves in similar situations. Is the choice between a leave without pay and a significant reduction in salary an acceptable option in your opinion?he asks in a letter to the Federal Minister for Women and Gender Equality, Marci Ien.

At the time of publishing these lines, our attempts to join Minister Marci Ien’s team have gone unanswered.

It should be noted that the Canada Labor Code is not clearer regarding the remuneration of pregnant employees on protective leave. The articles of the Code do not provide for an income replacement indemnity in this situation.

Source : Ethier c. Canadian National Railway Company

The collective agreement in question?

On the telephone, the director of education and organization at CUPW in Quebec, Judith Nadeau, confirms that this is a situation very complicated.

It’s an open file. But, it is complex. It is also a small office in Thetford, and there is a clause in the agreement which states that workers from one union unit cannot work in another unit.[…]explains Ms. Nadeau.

The employer therefore has no option of reassigning the letter carrier to another position, which could guarantee her full salary until delivery. And since his situation is not linked to a medical concern, private insurance does not enter into the equation for a withdrawal with pay, continues the union representative.

Under article 24 of the collective agreement renewed in December 2021, a pregnant employee may submit a request to cease carrying out her current duties if she believes that the continuation of all or part of them may, because of her pregnancy, constitute a risk to her health or that of of the fetus.

She must then present a medical certificate. Prior to obtaining this notice, the collective agreement guarantees his full salary.

What follows remains unclear. Upon receipt of the medical certificate, the employer has two choices: modify the tasks or reassign the worker, or inform her in writing that it is hardly feasible to take such a measure.

In this case, Canada Post chose to modify the schedule, therefore to accommodate it. And that’s it. They can’t reassign herrecalls Judith Nadeau.

Prevention is key

This situation may apply to different types of employment under federal jurisdiction.

On the Canadian government site, a page for pregnant or nursing employees confirms that employees’ wages are protected until workers obtain medical advice.

On this same page, we can read that according to the Canada Labor Code, prevention is essential to ensure the health and safety of employees and to eliminate the risks inherent in the jobis it written.

But what should the employee do when the doctor confirms the existence of a risk during pregnancy? The answer is that the employee must refer to the collective agreement in force.

That of the Rural and Suburban Mail Carriers of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers therefore does not provide more answers as to the assurance of receiving a full salary when the schedule is modified during the pregnancy.

One of the options for Catherine Lehoux would be to take unpaid leave until the birth of her child. I have bills to pay, I have a house, I want to workshe reiterates.

CUPW’s Judith Nadeau said the union continues to monitor the letter carrier’s case, without specifying what the next step will be.

With Guylaine Bussière

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