New (?) Proposals: Sick Leave and Short Term Disability

In September, CAPE did not provide the employer with counter proposals to the employer’s proposals to reduce sick leave entitlements and to establish a short term disability (STD) plan. CAPE’s response was to ask for numbers that the EC bargaining team believes are necessary in order to understand the employer’s proposals. The employer was unsure that the numbers could be produced for the October meeting; and finally, the delay did prove too short. The numbers have been promised for December 16 when the parties meet again at the bargaining table.

The employer brought to the attention of CAPE minor changes to the employer’s initial proposal. The waiting period of seven calendar days during which employees can find themselves sick without pay has not changed.

Currently in the EC collective agreement, EC employees are entitled to 15 days of sick leave per year; unused sick leave days can be accumulated to constitute a bank of income for periods of illness.  The employer’s proposal was to reduce sick leave credits from 15 days to 5 days a year; it is now offering a total of 6 days per year. According to the employer’s proposal if there is any sick leave left from the 6 days at the end of the fiscal year, the employee can carry-over a total of 1 day of sick leave into the new fiscal year for a maximum of 7 days in any fiscal year.

 Accumulated banks would disappear on the date of implementation of a STD plan. For a one year period immediately following the implementation of a STD plan and only for one year the bank would constitute a top-up credit reserve. If (1) an employee were sick for any period of more than 30 days during that one year and (2) if the employee was entitled to the 70% of salary under the proposed STD plan, the employee would be allowed to use his or her top-up credits to top-up the 70% of salary to a maximum of 85% at the conversion rate of 7.5% of value (for every block of 15 hours of sick leave deducted from the reserve, the employee would top-up one day of 70% of salary with 15% of salary to the maximum of 85%).

The employer also noted that the STD plan it proposes would allow benefits after the unpaid waiting period at 100% of salary for a period of 5 rather than 4 weeks as the employer had initially proposed, following which income from benefits would fall to 70% of salary (top-up option at 7.5% for one year). Employees with insufficient paid sick leave credits would have the option during the unpaid waiting period of using leave already included in the collective agreement for other purposes and needs:  an employee would be allowed to take vacation leave or use his or her personal day when sick during the waiting period.

The employer continues to present its proposal for a short term disability plan (STD) as something that would reside outside the collective agreement. The waiting period remains 7 unpaid calendar days. CAPE reiterated that the proposal for the STD plan, beyond any merit suggested by the employer, continues to provide a very incomplete picture of the proposed plan.

Without numbers and a complete picture of the employer’s proposals, CAPE suggested that the employer give serious consideration to CAPE’s proposals.