The right to refuse dangerous work is one of your three fundamental rights as a federally regulated employee and legally it must be respected by employers. It is often your last line of defense between choosing between avoiding danger and staying healthy and safe (including exposure to a hazard or danger that could cause injury and illness) and keeping your job without fear of reprisal.
The attached document (Click HERE to view) has been developed to provide CUPE members working in the airline industry information about their right to refuse dangerous work. Relevant sections of the Canada Labour Code have been placed in text boxes, and explanatory text has been added to assist you in interpreting/understanding these sections.
In this guide you will find answers to the following questions:
Question 1: What is the difference between a refusal and a complaint?
Question 2: When can I refuse dangerous work?
Question 3: Can I refuse for someone else, or can we do a ‘group’ refusal?
Question 4: What is “danger”?
Question 5: Who do I Report a work refusal to?
Question 6: What are the steps for a work refusal?
Question 7: What if I am in flight?
Question 8: Can I be punished for refusing dangerous work?
Question 9: What if the company tells me I can’t refuse the work?
Question 10: What are some common experiences in a work refusal process?
Question 11: Will I lose my pay for refusing to perform dangerous work?
Question 12: Can the company reassign me to alternate flights?
Question 13: Can I be forced back to work after the employer or committee has investigated the work refusal?
Question 14: Can I be required to work after the government investigation?
Question 15: Is there any time when I can’t refuse dangerous work?
Question 16: What is a “normal condition of employment”?
Question 17: What is “in operation”?
Question 18: Can the company ask someone else to do the work that I am refusing?
Question 19: What if someone else is refusing dangerous work and I don’t agree with the refusal?
We all hope that we never end up in a situation where we have to refuse work due to danger. But if it does happen, or if you are involved in a flight where someone is refusing to perform dangerous work, it is important you know your rights.
Your Union understands that standing up to the company and refusing to perform dangerous work can be stressful. There are many pressures acting on you to ‘just shut the door and go’ and many people won’t want to push back against this pressure. Flight attendants are trained safety professionals. If there is any doubt about the safety of a task, it is better to bring forth your concerns rather than hoping it will all work out. You are not alone; your union is there to support you.
President, Air Canada Component of CUPE