Library workers in Essex County, Ont. are back on the job today after nearly eight months on strike. The major sticking point in negotiations was short-term disability leave, which will now need to be approved by a third-party insurer.
“Our workforce didn’t want the third party because they didn’t want to run the risk of being denied or left in limbo while the third party decided,” says Lori Wightman, chair of the library employees’ union, CUPE Local 2974.
“Our concern was for security. Both sides agreed we didn’t use our sick time, we didn’t abuse it — that’s why we had significant banks. We didn’t get paid out at the end when we quit or retired. It was just there as a kind of security blanket for us. We knew if we got sick, we didn’t have to worry about being paid because we had sick days in our bank.”
Under the new policy, approved short-term disability claims from injuries that result in hospitalization will be paid from day one, while claims tied to illnesses such as cancer will be paid from day four. Employees can use their annual sick time to cover the first three days or the unpaid time off from a denied claim that they’re actively appealing.
Current employees will still be allowed to accumulate sick time up to a cap of 520 hours each year. New hires will receive 60 hours of sick time per year, which will be paid out at the end of the year if it isn’t used.