Contract negotiations are continuing between Chartwell Master Care and the union representing employees at an Ottawa-area retirement home, after the employer proposed cuts to paid sick days and changes to bereavement leave.

The proposed cuts at Chartwell Stonehaven include a reduced annual cap on sick days — from 12 to six — for full-time employees, says Derek MacLeod, national staff representative for Unifor. In addition, Chartwell proposed a new formula for part-time staff, in which they would earn $0.10 of paid sick leave for every 7.5 hours worked, instead of accumulating paid time off.

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“We said ‘no’ to both. There were no coronavirus cases at this facility and I think having paid sick days played a large part in that. Other retirement facility operators are going the opposite direction and adding sick days.”

The company is also proposing that time off for bereavement leave — currently a maximum of four days in the event of an immediate family member’s death — must be taken on consecutive days. “They’re not changing the formula, but if there are days off or weekends, that makes a difference.”

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In an emailed statement to Benefits Canada, Janine Reed, senior director of communications and public relations at Chartwell, confirmed the negotiations but declined further comment. “Currently, we are discussing the interpretation of areas of the collective agreement and are seeking to maintain current practices and, if possible, improve some.”

The contract negotiations opened in March and will now go to arbitration, likely in September, says MacLeod.