On this gloomy day in Toronto, we find out which tax bills we will be forced to accept.
While we are all for supporting the hard-working people in our community, the number of sick days granted to CUPE workers is a tough pill to swallow.
Yesterday, The Toronto Sun broke it down for us.
According to the most recently negotiated CUPE 79 and 416 agreements, more than half of Toronto’s unionized workers are entitled to six months of sick leave per year.
That’s pretty generous of the city, if we do say so ourselves (especially when the concept of a ‘sick day’ isn’t in the vocabulary of most of Toronto’s pavement-pounding millennials).
Currently, for any worker with 10 years of service or more (42 per cent of employees), these sick days are even offered at 100 per cent pay thanks to the city’s Illness and Injury Plan (IIP). Those with less than 10 years of experience in city service are entitled to 75 per cent or 100 per cent of pay based on a sliding scale.
The controversial IIP came into effect for all unionized employees hired after July 2009, replacing the former sick plan. The previous plan offered workers a more modest 18 sick days per year (which is still quite generous compared to many professions). Employees also had the option to bank any unused sick days for a hefty payout when they retire.
Employees hired before 2009 were permitted to decide whether to transfer to the new plan or to stick with the old one.
Currently, 55 per cent of current employees are covered by the plan.
As the Toronto Sun reports, the IIP may have actually enabled more workers to seek to qualify for long-term disability (LTD), and that the LTD plan – which kicks off after the employee had used up the 130 sick days – has been prone to abuse.
In fact, a review last October found that a whopping 1 in 20 city employees were on LTD as of the end of June 2015. Conducted by auditor general Beverly Romeo-Beehler, the report revealed that the cost of payouts has climbed from $19.7 million in 2004 to an expected $46 million last year.
That’s a 133 per cent increase.
It also appears that the city staff is opting out of turning up for work on the regular. According to a September auditor general’s report, paid staff absences have actually increased by 1.3 per cent in 2015 from 2014.
The total cost to the city for the paid days off was $104 million last year compared to $101 million in 2012.
The employees with the highest workplace absenteeism in 2015 were Toronto Fire Services, at 402, 860 hours, with a total cost of $18 million. The next highest in 2015 was Employment and Social Services, at 306,922 and $9.8 million in costs.
As The Sun reports, there are measures put in place by the city to curb abuse to the system.
Doctors’ notes are required following three days off and for every 20 or 24 consecutive days off, depending on the union, after that.
As the result of changes negotiated in February, come January 1, all employees – regardless of seniority – will be covered for 20 sick days at 100 per cent of pay, with the remaining 110 days offered at 75 per cent pay.
Keep in mind that these figures only apply to city divisions, not agencies, boards or commissions. It is also a sign of (slightly) tightening restrictions, but it still makes us kind of sick ourselves to think about it – especially when we’re the ones paying for it with our already spread thin paycheques. On the plus side, a growing number of forward-thinking companies are offering their employees “unsick days” to stay on top of their dental and doctor appointments.