A New Sick Leave Protocol for CUPE Employees

September 06, 2019

Exciting news for CUPE employees and supervisors – a new way of managing sick leave is on the way!

In September 2016, a CUPE policy grievance on sick leave led to a mediated Sick Leave Protocol which was intended to resolve the policy grievance and improve the administration of sick leave.  The University has been managing CUPE sick leave this way since late 2017, but the Sick Leave Protocol has proved prescriptive and difficult to administer. It has resulted in no significant improvement in our sick leave usage and does not help those who most need support and resources to manage illness or injury in the workplace.

The end of our current collective agreement with CUPE offered a great opportunity to start talking about sick leave management; and, in Fall 2018, representatives from Labour Relations, Return To Work/Disability Management (RTW/DM - rebranded Wellness & Recovery) and CUPE met to start considering alternatives. After extensive analysis, research, discussion and consultation with CUPE members and supervisors, a new Protocol was created.

The focus of the new protocol is to align with the redesign of the RTW/DM department to a wellness and recovery model, supporting employees to stay at work with accommodation and return to work sooner after an illness or injury.  The protocol replaces certain sections of Article 35 of the CUPE Collective Agreement.

  • Summary of Protocol 2019:
    • Aggregation of same condition is removed;
    • Longer period of “casual sick leave” before medical documentation is required;
    • New threshold for referral to Wellness & Recovery Centre is 4 occurrences and 14 days of sick leave within a 12 month period;
    • Any employee may refer themselves to Wellness & Recovery for resources and support;
    • The pilot project will be monitored and evaluated by a Joint CUPE/SFU Evaluation Team;
    • Individual cases may be referred to a Joint CUPE/SFU Case Review Team to find solutions other than grievance.

On August 27th, 28th and 29th CUPE presented the new protocol to members for a vote and, with a resounding Yes vote of 97.7%, the newly-ratified protocol will go-live in late Fall 2019 as a pilot project running to the expiry of the next CUPE Collective Agreement.

Supervisors will be supported in the administration of the new system by automated messages when an employee reaches the threshold and when they are due to come off the protocol.  Wellness & Recovery will spend less time producing reports and issuing letters, and more time working with our employees who need support and resources in managing one-off illnesses, injuries and chronic conditions.

The Protocol applies to continuing employees only, pro-rated for part time employees, but temporary employees are welcome to access the advice and resources of the Wellness & Recovery Office at any time.

Our Wellness & Recovery team has prepared a comprehensive package of materials to answer any questions you may have and simplify the transition to this new protocol.  These documents, including the protocol agreement and a Q&A outlining key changes and examples, is available off the main HR web page.  For more information, see http://www.sfu.ca/human-resources.html