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Under the weather: time to end bankable sick days for city workers

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The practice of banking sick days is almost unheard of in the private sector, yet it’s a different story for many city workers.

While CFIB appreciates the need for a safety net for workers during times of illness, the practice of banking sick days raises questions as to whether sick days are being used for purposes that may not be related to illness.

Consider some of the numbers:

  • Fewer than 3% of private sector plans allow workers to bank sick days (compared to 28% in the public sector).
  • Some cities (e.g., Saskatoon, Moncton, Charlottetown, Vancouver) allow employees to cash out their banked sick days, or use them for early retirement.
  • In Moncton and Winnipeg, city workers can bank unlimited sick days. Other cities limit the number of bankable days.
  • Toronto has the highest sick day liability ($489 million as of 2013) among municipalities in Canada, but has discontinued banking for new employees, as has Ottawa.

Although certain governments are moving away from the practice of allowing the banking of sick days, it still occurs across 10 of the 16 municipal governments reviewed in the report.

CFIB recommends that governments at all levels eliminate the practice of allowing the banking of sick days and instead introduce short-term disability plans.