Vancouver Secondary Teachers' Association

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  Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find information about my salary and benefits?
See the Salary and Benefits page for information about benefits and salary grids (April 1, 2006, through June 30, 2010).                                                                                                        [top]

How do I apply for a leave?  What types of leaves am I entitled to?
Firstly, it is important to know what type of leave you are requesting. For example, information about sick leave allowances is found in Article G.20.2. Information regarding all other types of leaves is found in Article G.21 of the VSB/VTF Collective Agreement. Contact VSTA if you are uncertain what leave best suits your situation.                                                                    [top]

How do I apply for an upgrade in my teaching category, such as 6PA/PB+15?
All applications for upgrading must be directed to the Teacher Qualification Service. Go to the TQS website at for information or call TQS at 604-736-5484. Application forms and procedures are available from the TQS website.                                                                      [top]

What are the rules around the purchase of pensionable service for personal leaves of absence?
Since March 31, 2007, the time window for the purchase of pensionable service for leaves of absence has been set at five years by the Teachers’ Pension Plan.  This means that when a teacher takes any leave of absence without pay or with partial pay, including maternity and parental leaves, s/he has only five years from the end of the leave to purchase the service for that leave. Members can find additional information on the purchase of leaves of absence from the TPP website, Go to Teachers’ Pension Plan and find Purchase of Service under Tools.  The Tools also include a Purchase Cost Estimator.                                                                  [top]

Where do I find information about my pension and upcoming pension seminars?
Information regarding teachers’ pensions is available on both the BCTF and Teachers’ Pension Plan websites: and Teachers can access their personal account which details their history of pensionable service through My Account at the TPP website. The TPP website also provides information and registration materials for teachers’ pension plan seminars. Questions can also be directed to the staff at the BCTF Income Security Division.                     [top]

What is the role of a school's Staff Committee?
The primary function of the Staff Committee is to provide advice to the Principal/Vice-Principal(s) in relation to the operation of the school. It is the school’s only democratic body authorized by the Collective Agreement to provide advice on behalf of the staff. Specific details regarding the committee’s composition, function, and meetings are found in the VBE/VTF Collective Agreement, Article A.5.5.C.                

What are my rights regarding parent walkabouts versus parent-teacher conferences/evenings?
Teacher attendance at Walkabouts during the first few weeks of school is voluntary. Walkabouts are not meetings or informal reports in respect of students’ school progress nor are they meetings or conferences called by the principal as defined by School Act Regulations. Walkabouts do, however, provide an opportunity for teachers to meet and talk with parents about their classes. As a matter of common courtesy, teachers unable to attend a Walkabout should notify their principal.  Parent-teacher conferences are included as informal reports on student progress as defined by The School Act regulations. As such, attendance by teachers is a duty.                                           [top]

What are the expectations and/or rules around Pro-D, including self-directed activities?
As of the fall of 2007, the VSTA has developed and adopted a document entitled, VSTA Guidelines for Self-Directed Professional Development.â€� Please visit the Pro-D section of the VSTA website for additional information. The VBE/VTF Collective Agreement, Article F. 21, also provides information on Professional Development.                                                                                                [top]

Who is eligible for SIF?  How do I apply for the VSTA SIF? What is SIF?
The VSTA Salary Indemnity Fund is a top-up plan available to all VSTA teachers on a continuing contract. Membership in the SIF is optional and is paid once a year directly by the member. A member must join before his/her 30th birthday or by October 31st of the year s/he is first hired by the VBE if past the age of 30. Application forms are distributed to teachers every fall at their school site, are downloadable from our website, and/or can be picked up at the VSTA office. If a member finds himself/herself on the BCTF Salary Indemnity Plan (short- term), the VSTA SIF pays an additional 15% top up (of your gross salary). Benefits are payable to a maximum of 20 school days for days of absence due to illness or accident after the expiration of sick leave. Further details are available from the VSTA website.                                                                                          [top]

What is the BCTF SIP?
The BCTF operates its own Salary Indemnity Plan, providing both short-term and long-term benefits to members disabled from employment as a result of illness or accident. The BCTF Salary Indemnity Plan is a mandatory benefit to which all members contribute.


  • Benefits begin on the first teaching day following the termination of sick leave
  • The benefit is 50% of salary, with the basic benefit never less than the Employment Insurance benefits
  • Claimants receive full pensionable service credit
  • The maximum number of teaching days for which benefits are paid in respect of a single illness or accident is 120
  • No benefits are paid in July or August


  • Long-term is administered for the BCTF by Great-West Life Assurance Company
  • Specific details are available in the Members’ Guide to the BCTF, the BCTF Income Security Office, and the website,

Applications for the Salary Indemnity Plan (SIP), Short-Term and Long-Term, must be made to the BCTF Income Security Division (telephone 604-871-1921). Check out BCTF SIF FAQs at                                                                    [top]

What are the contractual responsibilities and ethical boundaries of a department head/teacher leader?
There is no specific language in the VBE/VTF Collective Agreement about the contractual responsibilities of department heads. Like all members of the BCTF, department heads are expected to adhere to the Code of Ethics, the general rules for all members for maintaining high standards of professional service and conduct towards students, colleagues, and the professional union. Department Heads do not supervise teachers. They are the peer and equal of all teachers.

Does the VBE have an employee assistance program? If so, how do I access it?
All VBE employees and their immediate family members have access to the Employee Assistance Program, a confidential and voluntary service that provides practical support. There is no cost to use your EAP. You can contact your EAP toll-free at 1-800-268-5211 (24 hours a day, seven days a week) or visit counselling at                                                        [top]

Can my teaching load be changed after I accept a position?
Under Article E.21.1 of the VBE/VTF Collective Agreement, it is understood that “a vacancy being filled may be modified prior to filling due to enrolment/program changes.â€� Simply put, the teaching assignment cannot be altered unless the Principal/Vice-Principal(s) can demonstrate that an enrolment/program change was necessary.                                                                        [top]

In terms of posting and filling vacancies, what do the designations A through F mean?
The VBE/VTF Collective Agreement states that qualified applicants will be interviewed and offered positions according to the categories, with A having the highest priority. See Article E.21.4.    [top]

When does a teaching job need to be posted?
When the Board becomes aware that a position will be vacant for longer than three (3) consecutive months in a school year, the position is posted for seven (7) calendar days at the Union and Area Offices and concurrently at all worksites (Article E.21.2).                                                        [top]

Under what circumstances are teachers required to provide coverage during their non-instructional block?  How are teachers compensated?  Who keeps track of their time?
There have been two grievance settlements (1994 and 2001) which have resulted in the following outline of guidelines. Note that for both teachers and TOCs, compensation is NOT provided in the following circumstances:

  • Late arrival of a teacher or an TOC
  • Any emergencies or sudden illness necessitating the absence of a teacher from a classroom
  • Large workshops or activities which delete the TOC list
  • Epidemics that delete the TOC list

Excluding the above noted circumstances, teachers and TOCs are entitled to compensation when they are asked to cover a class during their non-instructional time.

Process to follow in compensating teachers and TOCs in situations
where they are asked to cover during non-instructional time

Teachers TOCs
  • A teacher who is owed a compensatory block is entitled to the compensatory block.
  • As TOCs must be called out for a half day minimum, schools are encouraged to organize compensation in 1/2 day increments, ie. teachers should accumulate two or more blocks.
  • TOCs are entitled to the same scheduled non-instructional time as the teacher
    they are replacing.
  • Should an TOC be asked to cover for a different teacher during their non-instructional block, they are entitled to
    an additional 1/4 day's pay.

A form for claiming compensatory time is available in every school office. It is completed and signed by the Principal/Vice-Principal and forwarded to the VBE, Human Resources. It is strongly recommended that all teachers and TOCs also keep an accurate record of their lost non-instructional time. 

What should I do if I have a fall at work and/or experience some type of occupational injury?
If you suffer an occupational injury, report it immediately to your supervisor, usually the vice-principal in charge of health and safety, by completing a WorkSafeBC Form 6A (Worker's Report of Injury or Occupational Disease to Employer)The injury should also be reported to the site-based Occupational First Aid Attendant prior to leaving the workplace.  The first aid book should be completed by the First attendant as per OH&S regulation 3.19. If an initial injury is not immediately reported to WorkSafeBC, the employee will lose entitlement to WCB coverage.

The forms are available at the school or can be downloaded from On both pages of the Form 6A write the following: “The worker requests a copy of the employer’s report be sent to the Workers’ Compensation Board.â€�  This note is necessary because many school boards, including the VBE, do not forward accident reports unless the employee takes time off work as a result of the accident.  You should also make a copy of the Form 6A and forward it to the VSTA office and keep a copy for yourself.  If the VSTA is not aware of the injury report, we cannot effectively advocate on your behalf if that becomes necessary.

In addition, you must also complete the WorkSafeBC Form 6: APPLICATION FOR COMPENSATION AND REPORT OF INJURY OR OCCUPATIONAL DISEASE". Form 6 can be completed online through Teleclaim.                                                                                                                         [top]