By The Canadian Press
CHARLOTTETOWN – In what might be a moral victory for every Canadian who ever had to go to work in bad weather, a P.E.I. man has won a five-year battle to get 3.5 hours worth of pay after being unable to get to the office.
A labour panel granted Leslie Smith leave pay for time missed during a snowstorm, saying he was prudent not to endanger his life by driving in “very difficult road conditions.”
Smith filed a grievance against the Canada Revenue Agency after it refused to provide paid leave for the hours he was not at the Tax Services Office in Charlottetown on Dec. 4, 2013.
A decision from a panel of the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board says the office remained open in the morning, but closed at 1 p.m. due to inclement weather.
The ruling says Smith was living in Summerside, about an hour from the office, and left home around 7 a.m. He spent about 25 minutes on unplowed roads before deciding to return home after seeing a four-wheel-drive truck in a ditch.
It says Smith again attempted to drive to work around 11:30 a.m. after seeing a snowplow on his street and clearing his driveway, but after driving around Summerside, he decided the road conditions remained unsafe.
The CRA agreed to four hours of paid leave because of the early closure, and one hour for Smith’s efforts to get to work, but refused to pay him the remaining 3.5 hours as paid leave, under a clause he cited in the collective agreement.
The clause says the employer may grant leave pay “when circumstances not directly attributable to the employee prevent his or her reporting for duty; such leave shall not be unreasonably withheld.”
The panel ruled that Smith established that circumstances beyond his control prevented him from coming to work, citing a local newspaper report that a snowstorm had hit the area that day and there was a list of businesses and government offices closed in Summerside.