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Time to reform municipal sick day policies

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Toronto, April 14, 2016 – A new report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) shows some big-city sick day policies are costly and unfair as municipal government employees can bank unused sick days while most private sector employees cannot.

Banking means that if an employee doesn’t use all their allotted sick days in a year, they can save them for later. Of the 16 major cities reviewed, 10 allow banking. Policies vary, with some cities, including Winnipeg and Moncton,   offering an unlimited number of banked sick days. Others place a ceiling on bankable days.

While many cities have grandfathered “cash out” policies for banked sick days some cities still allow it, including Saskatoon, Vancouver, Moncton and Charlottetown. Montreal also allows workers to use banked sick days towards early retirement.

“Having a safety net in place in case employees get sick in the short term is obviously a responsible thing to do,” said Laura Jones, CFIB executive vice-president. “However, when governments allow the banking of sick days, they are encouraging their employees to feel entitled to those days whether they’re sick or not.”

 

Who allows sick day banking?

 Max Days BankableCash PayoutEarly Retirement
    
    
Vancouver261YesNo
Victoria130GrandfatheredNo
Saskatoon194YesNo
Regina215GrandfatheredNo
WinnipegUnlimitedGrandfatheredNo
Montreal***40***Ternination of employment onlyYes
MonctonUnlimitedYesNo
Halifax150NoNo
Charlottetown 350YesNo
St. John's260GrandfatheredGrandfathered

*** Note:   A new Montreal White Collars collective agreement is currently under negotiation.

 

CFIB recommends cities introduce fairer short-term disability plans to replace sick-day banking policies to better align with private sector practices.

“Sick days are for when you’re sick. We need to fix the system so that everyone is playing by the same rules,” added Queenie Wong, CFIB senior research analyst, and author of the report. “All cities that continue to allow sick day banking should immediately replace this outdated practice with affordable short-term disability plans to protect their workers.”

Calgary, Edmonton, Quebec City and Fredericton set a good example for all, not allowing sick day   banking. While Toronto has the largest sick day liability among cities, $489 million in 2013, they and Ottawa have followed suit, discontinuing sick day banking for new employees, and instituting a short-term disability plan. Forty per cent of existing Toronto employees chose to switch to the plan.

To arrange an interview with Laura Jones or Queenie Wong, please contact Ryan Mallough at 416-222-8022, 647-464-2814 or [email protected].

CFIB is Canada’s   largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 109,000   members across every sector and region.