Q&As Alternative Work Schedules

Flexible Work Arrangements and Hours of Work Averaging Agreements

Q: Can you explain how the Flexible Work Arrangements and the HWAA (Hours of Work Averaging Agreements) affect bargaining unit employees?

A: What I can confirm is that if you were working under a flex arrangement previously, that should be continued and if any of the details of the agreement are changed, there needs to be 30 calendar notice given to the other party. This is now known as a Flexible Averaging Agreement. This does not mean that the employer can randomly switch employees to an HWAA agreement. 

Keep in mind that both types of Agreements are employee generated, so if the employer says that everyone is required to conform to an HWAA agreement, the employees who are affected, had to agree to that arrangement and sign off on the forms. If that did not happen, then you need to contact your MSO, although new employees who are hired into a branch/division where the members have already voted to follow a group HWAA, would be automatically be subject to the same work/pay arrangement.

Employees who work less than the regular hours per pay period (week, bi-weekly, monthly, etc), would be covered by an HWAA, which is closely regulated because it does affect your vacation, illness leave, etc, which are determined by the hours of work as per the Employment Standards Act regulations.

The Flexible Averaging Agreement is more informal and it just re-distributes the "normal" hours of work over a period of time, so that you can bank time towards time off, whether that is a day or a few hours.

With both agreements, they only allow a carry-over of 10 hours per pay period and anyone who has accumulated time on the books, must arrange by May 1, 2019 to schedule the time off or with the approval of the employer or get paid out for that time if no mutual agreement can be reached before May 1, 2019.

Impact on Pensions

Q. For members who opt for an HWAA (Hours of Work Averaging Agreements) schedule, which would reduce their annual hours of work, could you explain how this would impact their pension contributions (their pension deductions from their pay cheques)?

Also, if the employee decides at the end of the HWAA period (e.g. 2-year period) that they did not wish to renew their HWAA agreement and wanted to return to a “regular” hours of work schedule, would that employee be able to buy back their pension for the prior period where they were covered under an HWAA Agreement?

Also, would they have the option of paying more than the minimum contributions (based on their hours of work) into their pension plan, if they chose to?

Also, would they have the option of paying more than the minimum contributions (based on their hours of work) into their pension plan, if they chose to?

A: Alberta Pension Administration responded that Changes to your work schedule may affect your work percentage. I would recommend speaking to your Human Resource and Payroll administrator to ask if a compressed schedule would affect your work percentage. If you work percentage is lower, you will accrue pensionable service at a slower rate. For instance a part-time employee working a 75% work percentage would accrue 7.5 years of pension service over the course of 10 years, while a full time employee with a 100% work percentage would accrue 10 years of pensionable service in the same time.

There is no option to pay a higher rate of contributions into the PSPP pension. PSPP is a defined benefit pension plan. Your pension benefit is determined by your pensionable service and salary, not on your contributions.

If you have questions or concerns about the information provided, please contact our Alberta Pension Administration Member Services Centre, toll free at 1-877-453-1PSP (1777). Hours are from 8:15am–4:00pm Monday through Wednesday, Thursday 9:30am-4:00pm, and Friday 8:15am–4:00pm.