Frequently asked questions about EWSP

EWSP (Employee Wellness Support Program) was developed by members for members, so that in times of need you can focus on your health.

With EWSP, there is no more waiting for sick days to accrue or worrying about loss of income.

Our new Employee Wellness Support Program (EWSP) includes:

  • 26 weeks of paid leave with 100% income replacement
  • 3 day paid qualification period for short-term disability benefits
  • 9 fully-paid sick days
  • 3-day carryover of unused sick leave days
  • qualifying chronic or episodic illnesses will be exempt from the waiting period
  • travel time for diagnosis and treatment
  • an employee on the EWSP leave will be considered to be on leave with pay
  • full costs of administering the EWSP will be borne by the employer
  • family-related leave will increase by one day

In the fall of 2020, PIPSC members eligible for EWSP will vote on the ratification of the program.

What is EWSP? 

EWSP is the new Employee Wellness Support Program. PIPSC members have been working hard, negotiating with the federal government to deliver a new type of sick leave. This leave goes far beyond a few days annually that need to be collected in a bank.

With EWSP, each time you experience an illness or injury you have access to up to 26 weeks of leave paid at 100% of your usual salary.

Most of us will experience more than one major health issue in our lives. Many of us are already dealing with chronic or episodic health issues. The old sick leave banks do not meet our real needs. They especially don’t meet the needs of younger workers, women and parents. So we worked hard to get you a better solution.

In the fall of 2020, PIPSC members will vote on whether or not to accept this new approach to health. We encourage you to vote yes and ensure that everyone has the sick leave they need, when they need it.

How does EWSP work?

If you are sick or injured, you can access the Employee Wellness Support Program. Up to 26 weeks of leave is available to you at 100% salary replacement including benefits, pension contributions and vacation accrual.

Your leave begins with 3 qualifying days that are covered by your annual sick days or other leave – once you begin the EWSP leave, these sick days are replaced. Qualifying chronic or episodic illnesses will be exempt from the waiting period.

EWSP is available as many times as you need it. For example, if you were required to take leave one year to heal a hip replacement and then the next year take leave for cancer treatment – you could access two blocks of 26 weeks of paid leave. And you would still have your 9 “cough and cold” sick days each year for the usual bugs that keep us all home from time to time.

Long-term disability through your insurance remains available. If you were to need more than 26 weeks of leave for an illness or injury, you would transition to long-term disability leave. In order to access long-term disability, you would work with your EWSP case manager to submit an application. Typically, this process would begin around week 20 of your EWSP leave in order to transition to long-term disability leave after your 26 weeks of EWSP leave is complete. The long-term disability coverage through your insurance provides 70% salary replacement.

Why do we need the new EWSP?

We led the development of EWSP to address some major gaps in the previous sick leave plan. It is our program. And it is our win.

In our previous plan:

  • Members have been left without paid sick leave when dealing with chronic illness or more than one major illness or injury in their career. For example, if you have to go on long-term disability to deal with cancer and then have a heart attack, our old system does not provide enough leave for you.
  • Younger members who haven't had enough years working to accumulate a large sick leave bank have been left without paid sick leave when dealing with a major injury or illness. 
  • Then when they are facing a major illness or injury themselves they do not have enough or any paid leave.
  • Women are also less able to accumulate sick days and, on average, have 43 fewer sick days in their banks than men.

We can do better. And we have done better! The EWSP ensures 26 weeks of paid leave at 100% of your salary, every time you are facing a major illness or injury. 

Who would the new EWSP cover?

Members of the following groups will have the opportunity to ratify EWSP: AFS, AV, CFIA IN S&A VM, CS, NEB, NFB, NR, NRC RO/RCO IS LS TR, NUREG, OSFI, RE, SH, SP. If your group votes yes to the ratification of EWSP then you will be covered by the program.

Would EWSP replace the old sick leave program?

Yes, if your group ratifies EWSP then it will replace the current sick leave regime.

With EWSP, each time you experience an illness or injury you have access to up to 26 weeks of leave paid at 100% of your usual salary. You will also have 9 “cough and cold” sick days annually and an additional day of family leave.

PIPSC members have been working hard, negotiating with the federal government to deliver a new type of sick leave. EWSP is our program. And it’s our win.

When does the new EWSP come into effect?

We have been working hard to move EWSP forward over the last few years. And we have come to an agreement with the Treasury Board on the design of the program.

In the fall of 2020, PIPSC members who could be covered by EWSP will have the opportunity to vote to ratify this program.

When ratified, EWSP will be added to each group’s collective agreement. 

There will then be an implementation timeline that we will share with you.

If EWSP is implemented, will I lose my sick leave?

For groups that vote to ratify EWSP, after implementation of the program you will have access to 26 weeks of paid leave for each illness or injury. You can access this as many times as you need to throughout your career. This leave will replace the sick leave days that you previously accumulated in your bank. 

However, if you have accumulated more than 26 weeks in your sick leave bank before EWSP is implemented, then you will still have access to that additional amount of leave. 

Your sick days remain on record, and if you move to a position that is not covered by EWSP you will have access to that leave again.

In reality, most members, especially younger members or members with young children, are not able to accumulate large amounts of leave. This is why 26 weeks for everyone is such a big win.

What do I do if I just have a cold and need a couple of days off?

EWSP includes 9 “cough and cold” sick days each year. These are available when you need a few days out of the office to recover from a minor illness or injury.

The full 26 weeks of paid leave remains available whenever you need it.

What do I do after I've used all 9 "cough and cold" sick days for the year? 

If you have used your 9 “cough and cold” sick days for the year, you may want to access the 26 weeks of leave paid at 100% of your salary. This leave is available for absences longer than three days and can be used as often as needed throughout your career. 

If the 26 weeks of leave is not appropriate, then you would need to use other types of short-term leave like vacation time or leave without pay. On average members use 6 “cough and cold” days a year.

I am working reduced hours as I return from work after being on sick leave. Does EWSP provide for that?

Yes, the EWSP does provide for a gradual return to work after sick leave. In this case, you would use time from your 26 weeks of paid leave scheduled as you need it, to allow for the gradual return to work.

What happens if I use all of the 26 weeks of paid leave?

Long-term disability through your insurance remains available. If you were to need more than 26 weeks of leave for an illness or injury, you would transition to long-term disability leave. In order to access long-term disability, you would work with your EWSP case manager to submit an application. Typically, this process would begin around week 20 of your EWSP leave in order to transition to long-term disability leave after your 26 weeks of EWSP leave is complete. The long-term disability coverage through your insurance provides 70% salary replacement.

I am older than 65, am I eligible for the 26 weeks of leave with pay? 

Yes, you are. There is no age restriction.

Is there a waiting period for using the 26 weeks of sick leave? 

Access to the 26 weeks of paid leave begins with 3 qualifying days. These qualifying days can be from the 9 “cough and cold” sick days included in EWSP or from another leave category. When your 26 weeks of leave begins, these 3 qualifying days (whichever type of leave you chose) will be replaced.

Qualifying chronic, episodic illnesses or multiple hospitalizations within a 30-day period will be exempt from the waiting period.  

Will we get more information about EWSP before the ratification vote in the fall?

Yes, there will be informational webinars in September. You will receive an email with an invitation to attend and we will post about the webinars on pipsc.ca/ewsp. The webinars will include an overview of the EWSP as well as time for questions and answers.