Ask Your Union: Leaves for Illness and Duty to Accomodate

December 2021

Note: relevant parts of the Collective Agreement are Section 8: Employee Benefits and Section 9: Leaves of Absence from Duty.

Check with an LFA steward if you have any questions or concerns about your leave options.

 

1. What options do I have for taking time off if I’m sick, or helping/taking care of someone who is sick?

Click on the links below for more details on relevant paid and unpaid leave options:

2. What if I have a disability (either physical or mental) or a family status issue that restricts the type or conditions of work I can do?

In this case you may be able to request a workplace accommodation. For more details, see Workplace Accommodation and the Employer's Duty to Accomodate.

 

Sick Leave:

This is paid leave, with no loss of benefits or seniority. If you work half time or more, you earn 1.5 days per month pro rata (e.g. if you work half time, then you earn 1.5 half-time days per month). Unused sick leave credits carry over year-to-year, and you can accrue up to 261 working days of sick leave credit.

Up to 10 days of sick leave days may be advanced by the College to eligible faculty members who have used all of their sick days. You can check how many sick days you have accrued in Workday under Absence, Absence Balance.

If you are going to be absent for more than 10 days, HR may ask you to have your doctor fill out a form. You have a right to privacy and confidentiality of your medical information, and are not required to disclose diagnosis or treatment information.

Short-Term and Long-Term Disability:

If your illness or injury is prolonged and/or you have used up all of your sick days, you may be able to apply for Short Term Disability (STD) and, after that runs out (one year), then Long Term Disability (LTD). These programs are run by an insurance company (currently Sun Life Financial) and you will need to apply to that company, including submitting letters and documentation from appropriate medical professionals … caution: when dealing with the insurance company, usually your family doctor is not satisfactory as the primary medical professional; be prepared to visit other medical “experts”. Langara Human Resources staff will advise you when it is time to apply for Disability, and may assist you a bit with the paperwork. Be prepared for the possibility that an illness that qualified you for sick leave will not qualify you for Disability.

STD coverage starts when you have used all of your sick days or after 15 days, whichever occurs last. So if you have only accrued (say) 4 sick days, then you’ll have a gap of 11 days before STD can begin (assuming you meet the requirements). The College can advance you up to 10 sick days to help cover this gap.

As per Article 8.8, all Regular faculty, and Term faculty employed at least ½-time after one year of service, have their STD premiums paid by the College, and pay their own LTD premiums.

Compassionate or Family Leave:

If you are caring for someone in your family who is sick or for compassionate reasons, you can take up to five paid "family days" each year. Additional compassionate or family illness may be granted by the College. As defined in Article 9.3.1. of the Collective Agreement, family member is defined as: a spouse, children, children’s spouses, stepchild, stepchild in-law, siblings, in-law siblings, parents, step-parents, parents-in-law, grandparents, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and any other person living in the same household who is dependent upon the employee.

Compassionate Care Leave:

If you are caring for a gravely ill family member and require more than the five days allowed under the family leave, you can apply for an unpaid compassionate care leave. In accordance with the Employment Standards Act, this leave can be granted by the College for up to 27 weeks, and an extension may be granted by the College. Under this leave, there is no loss of benefits and seniority continues to accrue, but it is unpaid. You can however apply for Employment Insurance (EI) Caregiving Benefits from the Federal Government. This leave is described further in Article 9.3.2 of the Collective Agreement.

Bereavement Leave and Funeral Leave:

Faculty can take up to five days of bereavement leave with no loss of pay or benefits in the case of death in the immediate family, provided they have notifed their Division Chair (or Administrator if there is no Division Chair). That can include one-half day of funeral leave, with the approval of the Dvision Chair (or Administrator if there is no Division Chair). As defined in Article 9.5.1 of the Collective Agreement, references to family include spouse, children, children’s spouse, stepchild, stepchild in-law, siblings, in-law siblings, parents, step-parents, parents-in-law, grandparents, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and any other person living in the same household who is dependent upon the employee. All references to spouse within the leave provisions of this clause include, heterosexual, common-law and same sex partners.

Personal Leave:

Faculty have the opportunity to take up to two years of leave for a variety of reasons. These leaves are outlined in Article 9.7 of the Collective Agreement and may be a part-time or full-time leave, paid or unpaid (though they are usually unpaid). These leaves are granted by the College but the Collective Agreement stipulates that they shall not be unreasonably denied. If you require time off from work, and are not eligible for any of the paid leaves previously described, this may be an option for you.

Leave for Sexual or Domestic Violence:

If the injury or illness is the result of sexual or domestic violence (or you are caring for a dependent child who is the victim of sexual or domestic violence), you are entitled to three days of paid leave, up to 10 days of unpaid leave (taken intermittently or continuously) and up to 15 weeks of unpaid leave. This leave is described further in Article 9.16 of the Collective Agreement.

Substitute Instructors

Another instructor can be can be asked to 'substitute' and teach your class if you're sick and unable to do so. As outlined in Article 6.2.5. of the Collective Agreement, these ‘substitute’ instructors should only be full-time faculty (either regular or temporary). Faculty who substitute will be paid, but not for the first day that they cover.

This means that if you’re sick and misses two classes, the faculty who substitutes will only be paid for the second class that they teach. If you only miss one class, this means that the faculty who covers your class will not be paid for this. Part-time instructors are not included in this provision or expected to cover the first day for no pay.

 

Workplace Accomodation and the Employer's Duty to Accomodate

What if I have a disability (either physical or mental) or a family status issue that restricts the type or conditions of work I can do?

Human rights law requires employers to accommodate an employee who has a disability or a family status issue as long as the accommodation does not create an “undue hardship” for the employer.  If you believe that your condition requires a workplace accommodation, please contact your HR consultant as well as an LFA shop steward.  You are NOT obliged as part of the application process to disclose your diagnosis or to provide any information (such as your doctor’s specialty) that would allow your diagnosis to be inferred.  The goal is to help you accomplish your work successfully, not to breach your privacy.

For more information on workplace accommodations, please visit

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In summary, if you are unwell you should use your paid sick days first. If you are caring for a family member who is sick you should use your paid family days. If the illness extends beyond the sick days that you have or the five family days, there are other options available. Feel free to get in touch with the LFA to discuss these options.