Vancouver, April 5, 2016 – The practice of government employees “banking” sick days is costing the provincial government $399 million, Vancouver $35 million, and Victoria $7 million, according to the latest research from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).
Banking means that if an employee doesn’t use all their allotted sick days in a year, they can save them for later, or in some cases, have them paid out upon retirement. The CFIB report reviewed sick day provisions in the federal, provincial, and municipal governments, including Victoria and Vancouver.
In Vancouver, employees get 20 paid sick days per year and can bank up to 261 sick days, including receiving up to an additional 120 “gratuity” days which can be cashed out upon retirement. In Victoria, employees get 12 to 24 (based on seniority) paid sick days and can bank up to 130 days. Provincial government employees are no longer able to bank sick days, but the BC government still has a sick day bank liability on its books of $399 million from employees “grandfathered in” from previous collective agreements.
“Having a safety net in place in case employees get sick in the short-term is obviously a responsible thing to do,” said Richard Truscott, vice-president for BC and Alberta. “However, 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.”
Nearly 30 per cent government plans across Canada allow for banking sick days, versus only three per cent of private sector plans.
Provincial governments in Quebec and Saskatchewan allow unlimited sick day banking for their employees, while the government of Newfoundland and Labrador limits their workers to bank 240 days at a time. Quebec currently has $829 million in banked sick day liability, more than any other province. When it comes to municipalities, Moncton and Winnipeg allow for unlimited sick day banking, while Charlottetown allows a maximum of 350 banked days. Toronto has the largest sick day liability among cities, $489 million in 2013.
“Sick days are supposed to be for when you’re sick. Governments have set up a system where some workers may be using banked sick days for extra time off even though they are not ill. We need to fix the system so that everyone is playing by the same rules,” added Truscott. “Governments at all levels should move to eliminate sick day banking, and introduce affordable short-term disability plans for public sector workers to better align sick leave provisions with those in the private sector.”
To arrange an interview with Richard Truscott, Vice-President for BC and Alberta, please contact 604-684-5325 or [email protected].
CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region, including 10,000 in B.C.