A warning to CAPE members about a message from the employer concerning sick leave and the wellness strategy

May 30, 2014

You recently received or will soon be receiving a message from your department or agency in reference to its wellness and productivity strategy as well as the sick leave provisions of your collective agreement. This message may be the cause of some confusion, so I am writing today to provide much-needed clarification.

The employer raises the subject of sick leave in a series of statements suggesting that federal public service employees must inevitably agree to make concessions at the bargaining table. Nothing could be further from the truth. Of course, the employer is free to develop a wellness strategy, and the employer can even set up a short-term disability plan. However, such initiatives do not require changes to collective agreements. The employer must simply take the provisions of collective agreements into account in developing these initiatives.

I want to make it clear, as I have already stated in the past, that CAPE and the other federal public service bargaining agents will not make any concessions on the matter of sick leave. We are in solidarity on this issue. We are willing to listen to what the employer has to say at the bargaining table. We acknowledge that there are problems with the existing system, but we believe that those problems can be resolved with only minor adjustments; this would cost the taxpayers of this country far less than what the employer seems to be preparing. And we will talk about this during negotiations. But you may rest assured that neither CAPE nor any of the other bargaining agents will negotiate concessions that would make our members more vulnerable.

In preparation for the communications campaign which the employer seems to be mounting, I would encourage you to read or re-familiarize yourself with CAPE’s background paper on myths about paid sick leave