The Ontario Public Service Employees Union is giving its staff more paid sick days until the end of the coronavirus pandemic or for the duration of respective collective agreements.
The OPSEU is extending its annual paid sick leave from seven to 10 days and will give all of its temporary workers 10 fully paid sick days, said Warren Thomas, president of the union, in a press release. “It’s just the right thing to do and the right time to do it. And I’m urging all other employers across the province — including those that employ the frontline heroes who are our members — to follow our lead.”
The union’s decision comes on the heels of the Ontario government giving workers in the province three paid sick days to be administered through the Workplace Insurance and Safety Board — retroactive to April 19 and ending on Sept. 25. The provincial government had for months resisted intense pressure from health experts and advocates who argued paid sick leave would reduce workplace outbreaks of the coronavirus. Ontario’s government only shifted its stance recently, after the federal government left a national sick pay benefit unchanged in this month’s budget.
“We called on government to create a sick day plan that is simple, speedy and seamless. And that’s exactly what we’re doing by voluntarily giving our workers the ability to take the sick days they need without having to worry about filling out forms or maxing out their credit cards,” said Eduardo Almeida, the OPSEU’s first vice-president and treasurer, in a press release.
“To get through this pandemic, we all have to do our part. And that includes employers. Now is not the time for skimping on sick days and pressuring workers to work when they shouldn’t. Now is the time to put our communities first and work together to keep everybody safe.”