Vacation slot refusal not contract violation

When the grievor, a long-term employee with many skills and a glowing record, asked for vacation on the week before Christmas, he was refused. His excellent performance worked against him as the employer argued it could not do without him during a peak time.
By Mark Rogers
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 12/20/2011

Entitled to six weeks vacation annually, a worker with 25 years’ seniority requested eight months ahead of time to take the week off before Christmas. When his request was denied, the union grieved.

M.W. was one of four full-time employees in the meat department at a large “24/7” grocery retailer. He was the only full-time meat cutter. With 25 years’ service, M.W. was the most senior employee in the department. He was also the best: the most skilled meat cutter; the best at stocking the service counter and he excelled at customer service.

Vacation requests were accommodated as much as possible. There were no “blackout” periods for which requests were not permitted, but requests for vacations during the store’s busiest weeks — before holidays and during inventory — were discouraged.