Sick Leave Administrative Guidelines
This guideline is intended to set out the general principles that govern the University’s administration of the short-term sick leave benefit. The guideline is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all possible scenarios that might arise – flexibility to take individual and unique circumstances into account must be maintained both for employees’ benefit and for the integrity of the plan. The guideline is subject to the specific requirements of the collective agreement.
Short-term sick leave benefit provides all employees, when they are absent from work due to a bona fide illness or injury, with an income replacement plan to support employees when they suffer a significant illness or injury that may lead to long-term absence and LTD. The plan was designed to coordinate with the “elimination” or “waiting” period for Long Term Disability benefits as defined in the Great West Life LTD policy. This waiting period is 180 calendar days of continuous absence. Therefore, the sick leave benefit provides up to 180 calendar days of continuous absence. It is intended to provide income replacement for a period during which the employee would otherwise have been paid but for the illness or injury – for example, the employee is not on layoff, recall or unpaid leave of absence; in the case of an employee who holds a term appointment, the period of paid sick leave will not continue beyond the end date of his/her appointment.
Under the LTD policy an absence during which an employee has been unable to work for at least 60% of the time will be considered as time counted towards the elimination period.
Thus, in keeping with the intention that the sick leave benefit corresponds to the waiting period, employees are considered to be drawing on the 180 calendar day entitlement when they are unable to work for at least 60% of the time. During this time, they are accumulating time towards eligibility for LTD benefits.
When the “elimination” or “waiting” period has ended, payments while on LTD come from the insurer, Great West Life.
The sick leave plan is not intended to provide unlimited sick leave for incidental absences. Employees receive paid time off for absences due to incidental illness. Excessive or abnormal incidental sick leave will be addressed through the University’s attendance management program. Excessive or abnormal incidental sick leave that is related to an underlying disability which has been substantiated through medical documentation will be addressed through a modified time accommodation.
Commencement of Benefit
The period of entitlement commences on the first day of illness.
End of Benefit
Entitlement to the benefit ends not later than the day an employee’s employment with the University ends.
If, after returning from sick leave, an employee has a recurrence of the same illness, within one (1) calendar month of returning, the period(s) of return may be, and the subsequent absence will be, a continuation of the original sick leave. Again, this coordinates the sick leave benefit with Great West Life’s administration of the Waiting Period for LTD benefits.
If, after returning from LTD, an employee has a recurrence of the same illness within 180 calendar days of his/her return to work, the employee is not entitled to the sick leave benefit. This coordinates with Great West Life’s administration of the LTD benefit, whereby the employee is eligible to apply for reinstatement of his/her LTD benefit.
Reinstatement of Sick Leave Benefit
An employee who has returned to work from a sick leave of less than 180 calendar days will earn back the full 180 calendar day sick leave benefit once he/she has been back to work for a continuous period equal to one (1) full calendar month.
There may be rare cases when an employee returns from a prolonged absence due to an illness or injury and shortly thereafter requires a further leave due to a different illness or injury. While each case will have to be reviewed on its own merits, the general principle is that if the new illness or injury would commence a new Waiting Period according to Great West Life’s policy, the employee would be eligible for six months of sick leave benefit in connection with that new illness or injury.
Each employee is expected to cooperate with the University in providing substantiated medical documentation to support his/her absence due to illness or injury, including the restrictions/limitations that preclude them from performing the bone fide occupational requirements of their position, the prognosis for recovery and if they are participating in a treatment plan. An employee is expected to cooperate with the University in providing periodic updates of the medical documentation to support ongoing absences. An employee’s failure or refusal to cooperate in providing supporting medical documentation may place his/her entitlement to the sick leave benefit and/or any workplace accommodation in jeopardy.
An employee is responsible for informing his/her supervisor/designate if he/she will be absent from work due to illness or injury. The supervisor/designate will advise the assigned Department Time Keeper.
Extended sick leave will require documentation to support the leave. Medical notes or other supporting documentation are to be forwarded to the Specialist, Return to Work in Human Resources (phone ext. 77818; Fleming Hall, Stewart Pollock Wing). If an employee submits the documentation directly to his/her supervisor, the supervisor should have the employee place the documentation in a sealed envelope and the supervisor should forward the envelope to the Return to Work Specialist. In case of any absence that that will exceed 2 weeks the supervisor mustinform the Specialist, Return to Work in the Human Resources Department.
After an absence of 4 months andif they have been advised of the absence, Human Resources will automatically send LTD application papers to the employee.
Sick Leave and WSIB
An Employee absent from work due to an occupational illness or injury that is subject to a WSIB claim will be eligible to receive the sick leave benefit but in the event that his/her claim is approved by the WSIB, it is understood that any WSIB payments will be assigned directly to the University.
Return to Work and Accommodation
The University recognizes the importance of early and safe return to work and the need to provide accommodation to employees with disabilities. This is a process that requires the cooperation of all parties: the University, the employee and his/her Union if applicable. Before returning to work an employee is expected to provide medical documentation supporting his/her fitness to return to work, which outlines the restrictions and/or accommodation needs of the employee, if any.
If the terms of a Return to Work plan result in working less than 100%, salary may be pro-rated to the time worked under the RTW plan.
The process of accommodation is also a shared responsibility. The person requiring accommodation has a responsibility to advise the Specialist, Return to Work of the details regarding the accommodation required.