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Frequently asked questions - Workplace Wellness and Productivity Strategy and Sick Leave

The Government of Canada's Economic Action Plan 2015 reaffirmed the commitment to modernizing the disability and sick leave management system in the public service.

  • What does Budget 2015 mean for employees' sick leave and disability benefits?
  • I'm on sick leave now - what happens to me?
  • I'm scheduled to return to work from long-term disability - what happens to me?
  • I am currently on sick leave without pay because I don't have sick days in my banks - what happens to me?
  • What happens to my sick leave bank?


There is no change for anyone currently on sick leave or long-term disability. The current Terms and Conditions of Employment remain in place, as do the sick leave provisions, including accumulation rates and banks, and the disability program and benefits.

Negotiations with the bargaining agents are ongoing. The Government will make every effort to work with bargaining agents through the current round of collective bargaining to find a consensus on implementing a new disability and sick leave management system.

  • Q1. Why are you proposing to change sick leave?

    A1. We are proposing to change the sick leave system to ensure that all of our employees have the right systems and supports in place to promote a healthy and productive workplace. Our efforts to modernize the Government’s outdated and inadequate sick leave system is not about an accounting exercise.

    The current sick leave and disability management system does not work for anyone. Employees must rely on banked sick days for short-term illnesses, which is unfair to those who haven’t been working long enough to accumulate sufficient sick leave days.  Moreover, employees with large banks cannot access active case management before exhausting all banked sick leave days. This delays early intervention and effective return-to-work support. We need an integrated system in place that gives all employees access to the support they need during periods of short- or long-term disability, allowing them the time needed to get healthy and back to work.

    Providing disability management for short-term illness has been a common practice in other sectors and jurisdictions for decades. It is time for the federal public service to catch up and implement a modernized system that integrates short- and long-term coverage.

  • Q2. What could happen to the sick leave banks I have accumulated?

    A2. Sick leave-related provisions, including the yearly allotment of sick leave days and treatment of sick leave banks, will be negotiated during the 2014 round of collective bargaining.

  • Q3. Which elements of the sick leave and disability plan will be negotiated with bargaining agents?

    A3. Sick-leave-related provisions, including the yearly allotment of sick leave days and treatment of sick leave banks, will be negotiated along with the other terms and conditions of employment during the 2014 round of collective bargaining.

    In the meantime, the Government will continue to consult with bargaining agents on the disability and sick leave management framework.

  • Q4. Do other public sector employers allow for the banking of unused sick days?

    A4. Experience in other public sector organizations varies. For example, Ontario and British Columbia do not allow for sick leave banks, whereas Canada Post Corporation allows for the usage of sick leave banks for income adjustments during short-term disability.

  • Q5. When could the short-term disability plan come into effect?

    A5. A new system can only be pursued after a competitive contracting process with insurance companies is undertaken. This process, which would include transition and implementation periods, can take some months to complete and would include seeking requests for proposals, evaluating bids, awarding a contract, and ultimately, having the new system ready to process claims.

    We now anticipate this process will take longer than our initial projection of 2016.

  • Q6. How much could the changes to the new short- and long-term disability plans cost? Do these changes need to be collectively bargained?

    A6. The costs and scope of the changes to the short- and long-term disability plans cannot be confirmed until the procurement processes for a new short-term disability plan and the retendering of the long-term disability plan have been completed.

  • Q7. Do the changes to the new short- and long-term disability plans need to be collectively bargained?

    A7. Yes, the key elements of the new short- and long-term disability plans need to collectively bargained.

  • Q8. How many employees could be impacted?

    A8. All employees would be impacted and would benefit from a system that is fair, affordable, and sustainable. Under a new approach, all employees would be treated equally, regardless of gender, age, tenure or medical history.

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