A new report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says sick-day policies in the public sector are costly and unfair, because municipal government employees in 10 of the country’s largest cities can bank unused sick days.

The CFIB reviewed 16 major cities and found sick-day policies vary. Some cities place a ceiling on bankable days, while others, including Winnipeg and Moncton, offer an unlimited number of banked sick days.

Many cities have also grandfathered “cash out” policies for banked sick days, but some cities still allow it, including Saskatoon, Vancouver, Moncton and Charlottetown.

Montreal also allows workers to use banked sick days towards early retirement.

Read: How to keep your star employees

Calgary, Edmonton, Quebec City and Fredericton set a good example by not allowing sick-day banking, says the CFIB.

While Toronto has the largest sick-day liability among cities, at $489 million in 2013, the city and Ottawa have followed suit, discontinuing sick day banking for new employees, and instituting a short-term disability plan. Forty per cent of existing Toronto employees chose to switch to the plan.

Read: Education minister: Teachers no sicker than before they lost right to bank sick days

“Having a safety net in place in case employees get sick in the short term is obviously a responsible thing to do,” said Laura Jones, CFIB executive vice-president. “However, when governments allow the banking of sick days, they are encouraging their employees to feel entitled to those days whether they’re sick or not.”

“Sick days are for when you’re sick. We need to fix the system so that everyone is playing by the same rules,” added Queenie Wong, CFIB senior research analyst, and author of the report. “All cities that continue to allow sick day banking should immediately replace this outdated practice with affordable short-term disability plans to protect their workers.”

The CFIB recommends that cities introduce fairer short-term disability plans to replace sick-day banking policies to better align with private sector practices.

Read: Paid sick leave to be extended to 800,000 U.S. employees

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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