FAQ - MOA on Employee Wellness Support Program (EWSP)

1) Is my sick leave changing if I vote for this tentative deal?
No. The current sick leave system does not change as a result of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and Employee Wellness Support Program (EWSP). The current sick leave system remains in force and continues to be part of your collective agreement along with your sick leave bank.

2) If nothing is changing why do we need this Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)?
There are gaps in the current sick leave system, and some employees do not have the income protection they need as a result of chronic illnesses, a previous catastrophic illness or injury, or simply not enough years of service to accumulate a sufficient balance in their sick leave bank to tide them over until they are able to transition onto long-term disability (LTD) or, alternatively, successfully reintegrate back into the workplace. Furthermore, PIPSC believes it to be in the interests of our members to secure certain key features of a new system rather than leaving it to chance in a future round of negotiations. We have established minimum criteria and principles of wellness that any new system must meet. For further information on this please see the following research memo.

3) When will the new program on sick leave come into effect?
PIPSC and the Employer will develop all agreements and documents required to implement the new Employee Wellness Support Program (EWSP) within one year. The EWSP language will then be provided to individual PIPSC bargaining groups for ratification and inclusion in their collective agreements. The EWSP language that is developed will also establish the implementation date for the new system.

4) Will this new program be the same for all PIPSC groups?
Yes. The agreement reached on the Employee Wellness Support Program will be the same for each group and cannot be altered by any one group at the bargaining table.

5) What will happen to my existing sick leave banks?
After ratification of this agreement, your sick leave bank remains in place. Should PIPSC and Treasury Board reach an agreement on the EWSP, you will no longer accumulate sick leave days as of the implementation date. Employees with more than 26 weeks in their sick leave bank when the EWSP becomes effective will be entitled to carry over that excess, which may be used following the 26-week period of EWSP, prior to transitioning onto LTD.

6) What's the meaning of “Full 26 weeks of 100% income replacement”?
It means that you will receive your full pay for the duration of the EWSP.

7) What's the meaning of “Travel time for diagnosis and treatment”?
This language refers to a need to develop rules in the EWSP to address travel time for diagnosis and treatment. In some cases, people may need to travel significant distances to access a medical professional or specialist. The EWSP needs to address this issue as it was identified by the unions as a significant gap in the current system.

8) Who will be the administrator of the new program?
The Employee Wellness and Support Program (EWSP) will be administered by the Employer.

9) Will the new program be outside of the collective agreement?
No, the Employee Wellness Support Program (EWSP) will reside in the collective agreement.

10) How is moving from 15 days to 9 days of sick leave an improvement?
The EWSP provides protection for 26 weeks at full salary for each unrelated illness or injury, or reoccurrences of the same illness or injury that occurs more than 30 days after the employee has returned to work. The EWSP kicks in for any illness or injury of more than 3 days duration, with no unpaid waiting period. Practically speaking, an employee’s annual sick leave entitlement is “reinstated” once the EWSP kicks in.

This is probably best illustrated through some examples.

Example 1: Jean is 35 years old with 5 years of service in the federal public service and has accumulated 35 days in sick leave credits. Jean had a serious knee injury while skiing and had to stay home for 6 months.

Under Current Sick Leave System – Jean will have to use the 35 days in his sick leave bank and wait 30 days without pay to satisfy the 65-day waiting period before being eligible for LTD. Once approved by Sun Life, he will receive 70% of his pre-disability earnings.

Under the EWSP – Jean will be paid at 100% of his pre-disability earnings for the full duration of the 6 months that he requires to recover from his injury.

Example 2: Marie is 50 years old with 25 years of service. She has multiple sclerosis and only 10 days left in her bank.

Under Current Sick Leave System – Marie will have to use the 10 days in her sick leave bank and wait 55 days without pay to satisfy the 65-day waiting period before being eligible for LTD. Once approved by Sun Life, she will receive 70% of her pre-disability earnings.

Under the EWSP – Marie will be paid at 100% of her pre-disability earnings for up to 26 weeks and then will be eligible for LTD provided by Sun Life and receive 70% of her pre-disability earnings.

Example 3: Peter is 48 years old with 200 days in his sick leave bank. He received a lung cancer diagnosis and was on leave for 9 months. Peter came back to work for 3 months and was re-diagnosed with a recurrent lung cancer.

Under Current Sick Leave System – For Peter’s first diagnosis, he will have to exhaust his bank before he is eligible for Sun Life LTD at the rate of 70% of his pre-disability earnings. Since the recurrent illness occurred within 12 months of returning to work, and it is for the same illness, Peter will not have to satisfy another waiting period, except that Peter must first use any sick leave days that he has accumulated since returning to work before being eligible for LTD.

Under the EWSP – Peter’s first and recurring diagnosis will be protected the same way. For each, he will be paid at 100% for 26 weeks and then be eligible for the long-term disability plan provided by Sun Life and receive 70% of his pre-disability earnings.