Member Portal

We hope that many of your questions can be answered by the content throughout this website and we also know that we will never be able to fully anticipate every question that you may have. In an effort to provide you with as much information as possible we have developed some FAQs for you here. We hope they help guide you towards the answers you need to exercise your rights and responsibilities under the Collective Agreement as an FSA member or to learn more about the FSA.

Are you a member working in Part-Time Studies (PTS)? We have additional FAQs geared specifically for folks working in PTS.

These FAQs do not constitute legal advice. For any clarification about the answers provided below or for any other questions please do not hesitate to contact us!

FSA Member Questions of the Week

Beginning academic year 2023/24, we're collecting the member questions we publish in the Friday E-Bulletin

Due to the success of the Member Questions of the Week feature in the FSA E-Bulletin, we’re creating a repository of those questions that can be accessed here or by searching the #Questions of the Week tag on our website. You can email your Question of the Week questions to Member Engagement Officer Matt Greaves or the FSA inbox.


June 2024 (Commemorations, Article 14, gender)
May 2024 (Posting pay scales, aggressive managers, vacancy type)
April 2024 (Protected speech, memags)
March 2024 (Overtime, spring break, new members)
February 2024 (PD, Decision Review Board, pensionable earnings, FTE reductions)
January 2024 (Vacation days, Article 19 investigations, snow days, and solidarity)
December 2023 (Union dues, buying union, and seniority)
November 2023 (Warning letters, overtime, 10.3 PD, and tuition waivers)
October 2023 (Pay scales, staff to management ratios, and retro pay)
September 2023 (Pay scales, No benefits backdating, and organizing PTS)

Connecting with the FSA

When & how do I contact the FSA?

We encourage any member of the FSA to work collegially with their colleagues and manager to address concerns and issues that may arise. We also encourage members to be familiar with the general employment information provided on the BCIT Human Resources website.

If you still have a question about your Collective Agreement, a concern about violations of your rights or problems with your working conditions, or any question about the FSA – please reach out to us via our contact page!

I'm new, what do I need to know?

Many things! Please see our New Member Handbook and reach out to the Tech Rep(s) in your area.

I think I might have an issue, but I'm not sure I'm ready to contact the FSA.

If you have concerns about activities or incidents in your work area but aren’t sure if you’re ready to contact the FSA yet, we have developed a form for you to use to keep a report about an activity you may be concerned with. Tracking your concerns using this form will help the FSA labour relations team support you if/when you bring a concern to us. Please use a new instance of the form for each activity/incident you record.

You do not need to send us the form right away, keep it on file for if/when you reach out with your concern.

Download form (fillable PDF).

What happens when I contact the FSA with a workplace question or concern?

We are aware that for many members, it can be difficult to decide when to voice your concerns. We also know that the ability to raise concerns is different for so many reasons (e.g. type of employment, length of employment, etc.). We want to make sure that all members know that the FSA values and protects confidentiality. You can contact the FSA in confidence to explore your specific concern and learn what rights you may have. There are strong protections in place to ensure that management cannot retaliate against a member who seeks union advice.

To better manage the workloads of FSA labour relations staff and ensure that priority matters get the attention they require, the FSA introduced a new process for handling all new inquiries. Member phone calls, e-mails and walk-in visits are received by a designated staff person. If an answer to the member’s question is readily available, it will be provided. Otherwise, the member will be referred to an appropriate resource such as one of our dedicated Labour Relations Representatives, who will make every effort to contact the member as soon as possible.

For labour relations inquires, you can see the path your request will follow on page 3 of our January 2020 newsletter.

If your matter is outside of the scope of the FSA’s work you may be referred to another resource such as BCIT’s Human Resources, Manulife, etc.

Urgent matters are given priority attention. Please direct all new inquiries or issues to fsa@bcit.ca or 604-432-8695.

How do I know when FSA meetings are happening?

In addition to special meetings or events that are held on an as-needed basis, the FSA holds the following regular meetings:

  • General Meetings, including the Annual General Meeting, are held three times per year, usually in October, January & April
  • Board Meetings are held monthly except in the summer
  • Tech Rep Meetings are held monthly except in July, August & December

For a summary of dates, visit the events page, or check the FSA Calendar.

Slides and meeting notes or minutes are posted in the Members Portal (login required).

Where can I find FSA newsletters, member guides and publications?

All FSA newsletters and annual reports are posted on this site. Many of our member guides are posted with our Member Education materials. But a number of them are also located within our Member Portal which requires members to create an account login to access education materials and other member-only information. If you’re an FSA member and don’t have an account we encourage you to set one up today by visiting the members login page!

What do I do if my image appears in a group photo that is used on the website and I don't want it to be used?

While we make every effort at our events and meetings to give members a chance to opt out of being photographed, we acknowledge that group photos may end up including members who do not want their images to appear in a published photo. Please notify fsa@bcit.ca and we will take down the photo.

I was contacted by the BCIT Respect, Diversity, and Inclusion office to be a witness in an investigation. Do I need an FSA rep to come with me?

You’re being called as a witness to what’s happened allegedly between the parties and you do have a requirement to speak to BCIT as your employer. We would encourage you to attend. If you are not the complainant nor the respondent, you’re unlikely to face any legal consequences for your participation.

The process is fairly straightforward. You would meet with them at a defined time and place, and answer their questions to the best of your knowledge. If you don’t remember or you don’t know, then be clear and say you don’t recall or know. If you think of something after the meeting you forgot to tell them, you can email them. You can always ask to take a break from the questions if you need a bio break. Some snacks or a coffee is good to bring if you think your energy might decrease during the meeting.

FSA Structure

Directors & Staff: How do I know who is on the FSA Board of Directors? And who works for the FSA?

Visit our FSA Board & Staff pages to find out more about your union representation.

Program Heads: Is my Program Head or PTS Coordinator my manager?

Your Program Head or PTS Coordinator is not a manager to you or any other FSA or GEU member: they are your colleague. This is true for all other positions that properly fall under Article 5.2.4, and some of the other common titles for these positions include Program Coordinator, PTS Coordinator, or Team Lead. All such positions are called Departmental or Program Administrative Positions in the Collective Agreement (Article 5.2.4). You should also know that the incumbents in these positions should be (and normally are) selected by the members of the applicable Department/Program. Incumbents perform these roles for no longer than three years, but their incumbency is renewable, if the Department wishes.

This means that your Program Head or Coordinator (or other incumbent Administrative Position) should not be exercising management rights. Contact the FSA if you have concerns about whether that is happening. Alternatively, incumbents should contact the FSA if they think they are being asked by a Manager to carry out functions beyond what can be required.

Tech Reps: What is a Tech Rep, why do we need one and who is my Tech Rep?

Tech Reps are the FSA’s representative in each department. Elected annually, they provide an essential, personal link between the FSA’s Board of Directors and the Association’s membership. To find out more about Tech Reps and who serves your Department, please visit the Tech Rep page.

BCIT Managers: I'm in a BCIT management position but am still on the FSA membership list, why?

If you are in a BCIT management position but also have an auxiliary contract (for example: you teach a PTS course) in a Department that is under the FSA’s jurisdiction, you are an Associate (or Ancillary) member of the FSA. This entitles you to all the information and rights of a member in that category.

We recognize that it may seem odd at times – such as when voting in FSA elections or receiving information about collective bargaining, but you are a member and therefore have rights to participate and have your voice heard. We certainly encourage members in this position to weigh their dual obligations when exercising their FSA rights. We are certainly aware that there are members in this situation when we write and distribute information.

However, if you are in a BCIT management position and do not hold a contract that would make you an FSA member and are still receiving information from us, please let us know – we may have an error on our list!

Collective Agreement Rights

Departments: What is a Department & why does it matter?

  • Departments are defined in Article and are generally listed in Appendix III of the Collective Agreement.
  • Each reference to “Department” means: “the Employees and the related Manager”. The “employees” refers to employees in the Department who are FSA members, not to employees who are represented by the BCGEU units. 
  • Each FSA member of the Department has the authority – the right – to participate in “deliberations and decisions with a single voice and a single vote”.
  • If the subject is one the Department has the right to decide (e.g. Article 14.2), it’s a single voice/vote for each FSA-represented employee + their related manager.
  • If the subject is one the Department has the right to be consulted on (e.g. Article or 14.1), then there must be opportunity for each FSA member to voice their opinion and there must be a serious exchange of information or ideas before a decision is made.

This is important because the Collective Agreement assigns a number of rights and responsibilities to the Department. It is important that all FSA members become familiar with the general rights that your Departments have. A good place to start is becoming familiar with Article 14 of the Collective Agreement!

Further education materials on those rights and responsibilities are currently under development by the FSA.

Extended Health: Where do I go to learn about my health and welfare benefits?

As a first step, please contact BCIT’s Human Resources Department or visit the benefits section of BCIT website. If you have questions or concerns that are not answered by HR, you should contact the FSA by email or call us at 604-432-8695.

Initial Placement: Why is it important?

We encourage all members to know about the importance of Initial Placement so that when new colleagues start in your Department you can encourage them to ensure that they have been placed properly. We have several “hard to fill/difficult to recruit to” disciplines where having this knowledge is key.

In general, placement on salary scales should reflect your knowledge, experience and abilities, regardless of who you are. In this sense, the placement on the BCIT salary scale should apply equally to any person applying for and successfully attaining a technological faculty or staff position.

There is a mechanism in the Collective Agreement for determining this initial placement for all key classifications of faculty and staff. There is also a mechanism for appeal of this placement in Article 11. You have six (6) months from initial date of hire to appeal your placement. Review your placement form to ensure all experience and qualifications are credited. (Articles 11.2.2, 11.4.2, 11.6, 11.7).

All FSA members should receive a “placement form” with their appointment letter. There is a barrier step on “initial placement” meaning that the top of scale rates of pay usually are not available at point of hire. However, there are circumstances such as market shortages, which may allow for a mutually agreed-to variance of such a barrier. The initial placement is determined by the selection committee (Art, reviewed by the Dean (Art 11.2.5), and sent to BCIT Human Resources for the offer.

Why is this important?

If you disagree with your salary placement, you only have six (6) months from your date of hire to appeal your initial placement to the Institute Placement Committee (IPC, Article 11.2). In your appeal, we suggest including your review of your education and experience against the language in Article 11.2. More information–including how to apply and the relevant forms–is available on the employer’s IPC ShareSpace page.

Leaves: What are my leave of absence options under the Collective Agreement?

A review of the BCIT-FSA collective agreement reveals approximately 20 different types of leave provisions. The leaves are wide-ranging, and include absences for circumstances such as bereavement, participating in election to public office, maternity and parenting, professional development, and sick leave.

Some of the more common leaves that the FSA is asked about are:

(a) General Purpose Leave Without Pay (Article 9.7)

(b) Professional Development Leave (Article 10.5)

(c) Development Leave, Short-Term – Technical Staff and Assistant Instructor (Article 10.6)

(d) Professional Development Leave Without Pay (Article 10.7)

There are various eligibility criteria to be satisfied for these different leaves, as well as limits on how much leave time an employee can take.

If you have any questions that are not answered by reading the respective Collective Agreement provisions, or if you are experiencing difficulty in accessing your rights to a leave, contact the FSA.

Maternity/Parental/Adoption Leave

Maternity, Parental, and Adoption Leave entitlements are contained in Article 9.6 of the Collective Agreement. BCIT has a comprehensive FAQ resource on The Loop, including a brochure (Loop link) on these types of leaves.

Your initial step should be to get in contact with BCIT Human Resources (HR) to plan out your leave.

If you run into any issues or have any questions about what BCIT HR advises you on these leaves, please get in contact with us for a consultation.

Month Free of Teaching (MFOT)

The FSA office often receives questions from members regarding the Month Free of Teaching (MFOT) provisions contained in the Collective Agreement. Article 8.6.1 gives teaching Faculty one month “…free of teaching and student evaluation (examination, marking and marks review) duties”. Here are some of the more frequently asked questions regarding this topic.

What am I required to do during this month?

The Collective Agreement does not list any specific activities or deliverables for the MFOT. Responsibility for assigning duties to be undertaken during this month resides with the members of your Department (all of the FSA employees plus the related manager, each with a single voice and single vote). These duties relate to the “…effective operation of the Department”. Scheduling of these duties must be “…consistent with the fair treatment for each Employee in the Department“. For Departments that face low enrolments, the Department my assign “…activities designed to create a more satisfactory enrolment situation”.

Most Faculty use their MFOT to update their course material and to prepare for the next term. Many Faculty also use this time to complete professional development.

Who is entitled to MFOT?

Only regular Teaching Faculty receive the month, not Specialized Faculty or Instructors working in PTS.

Does this month have to be in June?

No – While many Faculty use all or part of June as their MFOT, there is nothing in the Collective Agreement which requires that the MFOT be taken in June.

Does this month have to be a continuous block of time?

No – Subject the requirements of your Department, the MFOT can be scheduled in segments. We are aware of some Faculty who spread their month over the entire summer, while other Faculty take half of their MFOT in June and the other half in August.

Does this month count against my annual vacation or other break periods?

No – Article 8.6.5 specifically states that the MFOT “…is not included as part of the Employee’s Annual Vacation or of Term, Spring and Christmas break periods”.

Do I have to be on campus during this month?

No – Subject to the duties assigned to you by your Department, you are not required to be in attendance at the Institute during your MFOT. If you are not on campus during this month, you are considered to “on-duty, off campus”.

How does seniority work for FSA members?

For more information on seniority, see this short piece by Senior Labour Relations Representative George Talbott.

Ownership of Course Materials

True or False: BCIT owns course material I created while working at BCIT?

False. For instructors, the materials you create for teaching belong to you and cannot be used by others without your permission (Article 7.4.1). Exceptions? Only if BCIT has specifically given you a development contract, release time or other compensation above your regular rate of pay, to develop material will it belong to them.

Have concerns? Follow up with your manager first and then contact the FSA if you run into problems.

Overtime: How does overtime work?

There is so much information on this topic that we have a separate FAQ on Overtime & Compensation. We also encourage you to reach out to the FSA directly if you think you’re working overtime and/or you’ve been directed to work overtime.

Part-Time Studies

We have a set of FAQs geared specifically to folks working in Part-Time Studies (PTS) here.

Pay: Where are salary scales posted?

Visit our Collective Agreement  page to find this information.

Professional Development: How do I use my PD allowance?

There are two types of professional development allowances: (1) Article 10.3 “Professional Development Expenses Fund, Program-Administered funding; and (2) an annual allotment of $2,400 for eligible full time Faculty employees.

The Art 10.3 professional development funding is an annual allotment provided to eligible employees on April 1st of each calendar year. This is more commonly referred to as the “pooled PD funds”. The general purpose of the fund is “to promote leadership in technological education through funding of relevant professional development activities and/or the purchase of equipment or services which maintain currency, flexibility, and professional competence of employees or augment the professional development of the individual employee” (Article 10.3.2). Refer to Memorandum of Agreement 22FSA01, Guide to Article 10.3 Professional Development Expenses Fund, for further information about the purpose and use of Article 10.3 funds.

An annual allotment of $2,400 in PD funding is available to Faculty employees after they have been at step 15 of the faculty salary scale for the equivalent of a least one annual workload year. This funding is paid via payroll, spread out over the year and is subject to taxes. There are no reporting requirements or restrictions on the use of these funds.

Retirement: I’m planning to retire; what are my first steps?

FSA members planning to retire should visit the Retiring from BCIT webpage provided by BCIT Human Resources. You should be able to find all the resources and information you need there. BCIT HR also hosts regular pension seminars in conjunction with the Pension Corp. Please check their Pensions Group on the Loop for upcoming dates.

Regular Employees please see Article 9.1.1, which outlines Pre-Retirement Leave, and 17.1, which concerns the schedule for providing the employer your notice of retirement.

If you have any concerns after working through that information and discussing with BCIT HR you can contact us directly.

Selection Committees: New Hires & Salary Placement

Our collegial hiring process recognizes that our faculty and staff are the experts in their fields and are best able to identify who will do the best job of preparing and supporting the next generation of technologists. For similar reasons, Article entitles Selection Committees to recommend where new hires should be placed on the salary scale.

Article 11 sets out the rules for placement on the scales. Applying these rules often requires knowledge of the field and of the work to be performed at BCIT. Selection Committees can take initiative on placement by applying their informed judgement on questions like the equivalency of credentials and the relevance of employment experience. Make sure your new colleagues get proper credit for the education and experience that have prepared them to join your department.

Check out the FSA Guide on Dept. Selection Committees here

Step Advancement

We are often asked by our members about whether BCIT is prepared to recognize employee achievement that brings recognition to BCIT. The answer is: a qualified ‘yes’!

Faculty (Article 11.3.7), Assistant Instructors (Article 11.5.5), and Tech Staff (Article 11.7.4) may be eligible for step advancement on the related salary scale after six (6) months or more of continuous service “as recognition for an achievement which brings recognition to the Institute”. Read the aforementioned Articles in your Collective Agreement for additional details.

This possible step advance carries with it the appropriate salary increase and takes effect on the first pay period following completion of the achievement or service on which this advancement is based.

Some examples of achievements have been: the successful completion of a professional certification, recognition of research contributions, authoring scholarly works, including authoring or co-authoring textbooks, etc. BCIT’s mission is “partnering learners and industry for success through workforce development.” The ability to achieve this goal will be enhanced through faculty achievements in the academic community or in your fields of knowledge and experience.

When applying, you will need to complete a simple form and submit it to the Institute Placement Committee (IPC) for review. The form will include outlining your accomplishment and providing any proof as required by the IPC that decides on the step advancement. The IPC is a standing committee and meets regularly or as required.

Visit the Institute Placement Committee ShareSpace page.

Student Employees: Am I a member? What are my dues?

As a peer tutor or a BCIT student employed in a technology program or ITS, you become part of the FSA (Faculty and Staff Association). We represent full-time and part-time technological faculty and staff at BCIT. You will notice that you pay dues of 1.85% on all gross wages. These are tax deductible and will be included on your T4 at income tax time. Being a member of FSA also entitles you to information about employment matters that pertain to you. All members are entitled to attend our general meetings; have access to education and other resources via the Union, and are entitled to vote on FSA matters. If you have issues regarding your employment and need an advocate, the FSA will represent you.  Your department and BCIT Human Resources can provide you with most information about your employment; however, if you ever require an interpretation or advocacy on your behalf, we are here to help. Contact the FSA if you have any questions about how we can help you.

Vacation: If I don't use all of my vacation do I just lose the days?

All employees have the right to carry over up to ten (10) working days of vacation leave for their use in a subsequent year, pursuant to Article However, under Article, an employee also has the right to apply for permission to reschedule or to carry over additional vacation leave, as long as the total vacation entitlement in any one (1) year does not exceed 58 days. See Article for the exception to this rule.

In addition to the carry over limits described above, if an employee finds they are unable to take all of their scheduled vacation in a calendar year, and they are authorized to forego the scheduled vacation leave, they may apply for permission to carry over the additional vacation leave (Article These excess vacation days will be paid out via a lump sum by the second pay period in February of the subsequent calendar year.

Winter Break: What is it and when is it?

If you have additional questions after reading this FAQ about Winter Break, please contact the FSA office.

What is Winter Break?

Winter Break is a period of time between terms where attendance for work on campus is not required, similar to being on-call in other workplaces. It is not considered vacation, and employees must be available for remote work, or to attend on campus should a need arise. Each Department plans for coverage with consideration to services required, vacations booked, and fair treatment of all in the Department.

Break periods are governed by Article 8.7 of the Collective Agreement, which states:

8.7.1      For Regular and Temporary Instructional Employees, Term, Spring and Winter break periods are not considered vacation periods. Duty allocations during Term, Spring, and Winter break periods shall be decided by each Department, consistent with fair treatment for each Employee within the Department, and any Employee without such assigned duty shall not be required to be in attendance at the Institute.   For Regular and Temporary Non-Instructional Employees are entitled to Winter break period as set out in Letter of Understanding RE Winter Break Period Non-Instructional Employees.

Instructional Employees

When is Winter Break?

For instructional employees, it is the period after marks review and before commencement of next term.

How long is Winter Break?

This can vary for instructional employees depending on the conclusion of exams, marks review, and commencement of the next term. Most often it is 5 consecutive days. For this purpose, statutory and general holidays are not considered work days.

Non-Instructional Employees

What is Winter Break for Non-Instructional Employees?

Winter Break for non-instructional employees is guided by this letter of understanding.

An arbitration decision dated June 15, 2001 from Arbitrator Hope with subsequent modifications agreed to in November 2001, and a 2020 Letter of Understanding, establish the provisions of access to Winter Break for non-instructional employees. Departments must have a plan in place for coverage by November 1st of each year.

How long is Winter Break for non-instructional employees?

Five consecutive days.

When is Winter Break?

For non-instructional employees it is the period after marks review and before commencement of next term, if 5 consecutive days are not possible, then days are added preceding the period to make up a total of 5 consecutive days. For this purpose, statutory and general holidays are not considered work days.

What groups of non-instructional employees are covered?

The following is not an exhaustive list, but an example of some of the areas covered by the agreements.

  • LTC
  • Library
  • Student Success
  • Applied Research
  • Registrar’s Office
  • ITS

Workload: How should a Department determine workload?

The Collective Agreement (Articles 1.4.3-1.4.6) allows each Department some flexibility to develop their workloading process. There are guiding principles to ensure fair and equitable distribution of the work (see Articles 1.4.3–1.4.6 & 8.8.1) and consultation (Article 1.8.4) within the Department, but the details of the process are left to the best decision-makers, the Department members and the related Manager. Some Departments may choose to partially delegate the authority to a Departmental “workloading committee”, which may be done by specific motion at a Departmental Meeting (Article 14.4). This Committee receives requests from the Department members regarding their workload preferences and drafts a Departmental plan based on those requests to put back to the Department. The Department members must then review and approve that plan prior to its implementation. A Department-approved appeal process should be in place, to process any appeals of Departmental decisions (Articles 14.4-14.5; 8.8.3; 8.9.1).

Relevant Collective Agreement Provisions for Workload Issues

  • Article Definition of “Department” (which means the “Employees and the related Manager”)
  • Article 8.2: Faculty Workload
  • Article 8.3: Assistant Instructor Workload
  • Article 8.4: Technical Staff Workload
  • Article 8.6: Month Free of Teaching
  • Article 8.8: Workload Assignments and Dispute Resolution (Faculty and Assistant Instructors)
  • Article 8.8.1 Non-exclusive list of factors to consider when determining workload assignments for instructional staff (Faculty and Assistant Instructors)
  • Article 8.9: Workload Assignments and Dispute Resolution (Non-Instructional Staff)
  • Articles 14.1 & 14.2: Departmental objectives and planning
  • Article 14.3: Dept. plan disputes

Workload Disputes

Over the last year, the FSA has seen an increase in members using collective agreement provisions to dispute excess workload assignments. Article 8.8 and 8.9 (for instructional and non-instructional staff respectively) provide three levels of dispute resolution. The Workload Dispute Process gives members the opportunity to challenge workloads that are unfair, inequitable, or unreasonable whereas the grievance process is used for issues like excess contact hours or overtime.

The Workload Dispute Process starts with a formal complaint to the department, which must respond with written reasons. Almost all complaints are resolved with some workload adjustment made at the department level. If the department response is not satisfactory, the process then advances to the Dean. Failing an appeal to the Dean, the next step is a workload dispute panel, equally made up of union and management representatives from other departments. The panel’s findings are copied to the Dean and the Vice President, Academic, who must explain how the workload dispute will be remedied.

While the process provides for individuals or groups of members bringing their own complaints forward, please contact the FSA for guidance using this mechanism and to keep us abreast of workload issues in your department.