deGrandis` employer now faces the prospect of arguing in federal court, perhaps before a jury, that there were reasons to fire the employee in 2008 for “failing to meet his generally applicable labour standards.” Instead of defending against a possible multi-month surcharge, as is usually the case in arbitration, the employer can pay nearly a decade in the event of defeat. Neither the employer nor the union likely intended this outcome when they reached the last chance agreement. Why could management and a union agree on a last chance? What distinguishes last chance agreements from other forms of disciplinary measures is the concrete assertion that compliance with the terms of the contract is necessary to maintain employment. Once the violation committed by the employee has been printed, specific guidelines can be cited and the specific measures that the employee must take with regard to the prevention of future violations can be clearly stated (the procedure differs significantly from one company to another here). In general, any future need for disciplinary action within a certain period of time will result in dismissal, so as a general rule, specific disciplinary measures are not included. To minimize the likelihood of further arbitration and possible misunderstandings, this type of agreement is usually very short. This is often a general declaration of consent from an employee indicating that they have committed a serious violation of the guidelines. Then comes its signature, in which it commits to make improvements in terms of compliance with policies in the area indicated. The violation that specifically led to the drafting of the contract is described in detail, but the general appearance of most forms is comparable to that of a warning for most entry-level jobs. Typically, there will be a final part of one of these agreements, which states that the employee must focus on all aspects of the company`s policy and further affirms that the employer retains the right to fire the employee in the event of a policy violation, including those that are not specifically relevant to the previous violation. Depending on the nature of the breach that has already occurred, there may be additional elements to that last part of the agreement, for example. B specific actions that the employee is generally required to follow (or avoid) for the duration of a certain probation period.
While last-chance agreements remain important tools in managing a unionized workforce, they must be carefully designed to avoid unintended outcomes in DeGrandis. It is unlikely that the elimination of the grievance process and arbitration regarding future terminations will be sufficient to provide the protection that the employer expects. Since the terms of collective agreements and the circumstances of disciplinary situations may be different, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Therefore, it is important to consult a lawyer when drafting last-chance agreements. .