Clarity costs less up front.

Labour relations in a unionized context depends on clear collective agreements. Too often, we see unclear collective agreement language lead to lengthy and costly arbitration. Too often, collective agreements are not updated as law and circumstance change.

Hire a third-party drafter to hammer out a clear agreement

Parties should focus on what matters to them: the substantive rights you bargain at the table. Leave drafting to an independent specialist.

Audit your agreement

Before bargaining begins, I review the agreement for lack of clarity, correct grammar, and flag areas that might generally need improved based on changed context.

prepare clear proposals

Each party (and counsel, if involved) consults with me in confidence to produce clear proposals for exchange. Get the clear language you want on paper before coming to the table.

Draft collaboratively

I sit with the parties at the bargaining table to draft exactly what was agreed to. This process occurs in real-time. Parties eliminate back-and-forth after signing articles.


Why is good drafting necessary?


Sample Audit

Original Text

The Company agrees that in the event of a bereavement in the immediate family of an employee, meaning spouse, son, daughter, father, mother, sister, brother, mother-in-law, father-in-law, sister-in-law, grandmother, grandfather, grandchildren, step-children, step-mother, and step-father to grant three (3) scheduled working days in succession with pay to attend to funeral and other duties.

It is understood that in order to be paid, these days must have otherwise been days on which the employee would have normally worked at his/her regular scheduled hours and regular hourly rate.

It is further agreed that an employee be entitled to one (1) day of funeral leave with pay to attend the funeral in the event of an aunt, uncle, or spouse’s grandparents or the employee’s son-in-law and/or daughter-in-law, subject to the same conditions as immediate family. Upon mutual agreement between the Company and employee additional funeral leave without pay may be granted continuous with the paid funeral leave for a period of up to three (3) days.

In the event of a winter death and spring burial, one of the shifts may be taken at the time of the burial.

Should the bereavement occur during an employee’s vacation period or plant holiday, the vacation period or Plant Holiday will be extended consecutively by the appropriate number of vacation/holiday days.

Employees who are on bereavement leave will not be assigned to any overtime work.

If requested by the Company, the employee may be required to provide proof of death.

Audited Text

Bereavement Leave

X.1 For the purposes of this article,

‘immediate family’ means a spouse, son, daughter, father, mother, sister, brother, mother-in-law, father-in-law, sister-in-law, grandmother, grandfather, grandchildren, step-children, step-mother, and step-father;

‘distant family’ means an aunt, uncle, or spouse’s grandparents or the employee’s son-in-law and/or daughter-in-law;

‘day of paid leave’ means a day on which the employee was schedule to work a regular shift.

X.2 When a member of an employee’s immediate family dies, the employee may request three (3) days of paid leave.

X.3 When a member of an employee’s distant family dies, the employee may request one (1) day of paid leave and three (3) days of unpaid leave.

X.4 The employer may require proof of death from an employee claiming leave.

X.5 All days of leave under this article must be taken for successive shifts, but when a family member’s death occurs in winter and the burial is scheduled for spring, one shift may be used to attend the burial.

X.6 If an employee takes bereavement leave during a vacation or holiday, the employer must credit the employee a number of vacation or holiday days corresponding to the days of leave.


  • The original text is composed of two dense paragraphs and five shorter paragraphs that provide additional rules. This format is a common drafting style that blends definitions with rules and leaves exceptions or additional rules trailing in the text.
  • The drafting in the original text is overwrought in places and illogical in others. Including a definition of ‘immediate family’ in the middle of the first rule separates that rule’s subject and verb from its predicate. The reader cannot take the entire rule in at a glance. The same is true for the second long paragraph.
  • The audited text provides clear structure. Definitions are supplied as a separate section, which allows readers moving top-to-bottom in the text to read the definitions first. They move on to the two main rules. These are supplied in clear, simple prose. The final three subsections are additional rules that qualify the main rules.
  • The use of the permissive ‘may’ throughout the audited text prescribes maximums that employees and the employer must respect. This single word does the work of ‘entitled to’ and ‘up to’. The party permitted to perform an action can do so up to the prescribed maximum, but reaching the maximum is not required.

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