Brad Dale  CUPE Research

It is important that every job is compensated fairly in relation to the work that is required. Rather than pursuing individual grievances or arbitration, a joint job evaluation (JJE) process is an effective way to determine the value of the work associated with every job. This method of measurement is used to recognize changes in job duties/requirements and to determine appropriate wages for new jobs. It does not assess individual job performance, but rather the job itself. A successful JJE process will help identify and remove wage inequities and provide internal equity by creating a fair and objective wage structure.

When you negotiate a JJE process, there is some basic language that can be used to get the process started.

  1. The parties agree to jointly negotiate, implement and maintain a job evaluation program including a terms of reference document establishing the terms and conditions of this process. These terms of reference will form part of the collective agreement.
  2. The parties shall establish a joint job evaluation committee within thirty (30) days following the signing of this collective agreement.
  3. The program shall be completed and implemented no later than [insert date here].
  4. The cost of the job evaluation program will be borne by the Employer.

The next step is to jointly develop a job evaluation (JE) terms of reference, which is a detailed agreement for the JE procedures. It covers the size of the committee, how information is gathered, how jobs are rated, how disagreements within the committee are settled and what rights the incumbents and supervisors have if they disagree with the results.

While this sample language covers the basics, there are often other issues addressed in the collective agreement. Here are some common issues, and the challenges that come with them.

Money: Implementation of the results should be negotiated once all of the jobs are rated. However, it is difficult to implement the results if the collective agreement specifies the amount of money available. In the example, the $175,000 set aside for resulting costs was far too low. The language left no room to negotiate and the local was very unsatisfied with the final results. There needs to be flexibility to negotiate any unexpected implementation costs. There are creative ways to compromise, such as phasing in the results over a longer period of time. Just remember, there is no way to know what the costs are until all the jobs are rated.

Pay Equity: Pay equity legislation exists in some workplaces in Canada, but not all. The goal of pay equity legislation is the elimination of wage inequities resulting from gender discrimination. If your local is not covered by pay equity legislation and is trying to achieve gender equity through a negotiated job evaluation process then you need to define what that means. Will the results compare jobs within your bargaining unit or across the entire employer? Will they link your bargaining unit to another related employer? For example, linking library workers to the municipality that funds the library. Without legislation or an agreed upon definition, “pay equity” may lead to unintended confusion at implementation.

Red-circling: There is no guarantee that wages will increase after JE rating. In reality, some jobs will decrease in value. To protect the incumbents in these jobs from a decrease in pay, wage protection language must be negotiated. This can mean different things, from “red-circling” (freezing wages until the new lower wages catches up), to continuing wage increases for current incumbents until they leave the position (“present incumbent only” language). Whatever your choice, the most important thing is that you do not leave it up to the employer to decide on the best way to handle these cases.

Effective Date for Wage Adjustments: Despite the best efforts to complete the process on time, deadlines are often missed. Failure to meet deadlines may impact the date at which jobs set to increase in value actually see a wage increase. Agreeing on the effective date at the beginning of the process encourages both parties to keep the process on track and avoid disagreements on the dates when the results of the JJE are implemented.

Here is an example from a CUPE collective agreement which did not work out well for the local:

“Implementation of the Job Evaluation Plan shall be subject to negotiation and agreement between the parties. The Employer commits to set aside funding totaling $175,000. The parties agree that this amount will represent the entire funding for the term of this agreement for negotiated bargaining unit salary adjustments that result from the implementation of the Plan.”

Every JE process has a unique set of challenges, but having clear language and set goals gives the best chance of achieving success. Contact your CUPE servicing representative and ask them about accessing assistance from CUPE job evaluation staff.