Drivers required to pay for proof of qualification

Construction workers need license
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 02/16/2016

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 424 filed a grievance against Fisher Powerline Construction after the employer required workers to provide a summary of their driving record before commencing employment.

The summary — referred to as an abstract — is issued by the provincial government in Alberta to confirm the employee in question has a valid driver’s licence. The fee for obtaining an abstract is $25 and is paid for by employees.

While the union acknowledged it was reasonable for the employer to require workers to provide an abstract as proof they are qualified to operate motor vehicles, it asserted employees should not be required to pay for the abstracts.

The union called for reimbursement for the costs incurred by members who have been dispatched by the employer.

The employer constructs and maintains power lines, underground power lines and electrical substations. In order to carry out this maintenance, Fisher operates about 70 service trucks, boom trucks, picker trucks and bucket trucks.

In addition to requiring employees to provide an abstract, the employer also requires workers to disclose their driving record.

The employer’s insurer stipulates that only workers with clean driving records will be hired.

The insurer also inspects the employees’ abstracts to ensure they meet insurance standards.

The union argued the requirement to pay for and provide the employer with an abstract is not addressed anywhere in the parties’ collective agreement. All conditions of employment must be negotiated, the union argued, because while the cost of providing an abstract to the employer is not onerous, it could lead to the employer unilaterally adding other preconditions to employment that might be much more costly to union members.

The employer, however, argued the ability to safely and legally drive its vehicles is an implied and reasonable precondition of employment.

Fisher Powerline further argued that the requirement for workers to provide an abstract is a reasonable exercise of its management rights.

Requirements reasonable

Arbitrator Lyle Kanee found the employer’s requirements were reasonable in the circumstances.

"In this case, Fisher’s insurer requires it to obtain abstracts from all potential employees and arranges for its broker to review the abstracts to ensure the driving records meet the insurer’s standards," Kanee said.

"In these circumstances, it is reasonable to view possession of a valid driver’s licencce and a satisfactory driving record as qualifications to perform the work hired for, much like a trade credential. An abstract is simply the method by which workers prove they have the qualifications, much like a ticket confirms they have the training and skills to execute other work they are hired to perform."

As a result, the grievance was denied.

Reference: Fisher Powerline Construction and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 424. Lyle Kanee — arbitrator. Damon S. Bailey for the employer, William J. Johnson for the union. Jan. 18, 2016.