Sick Leave Aggregation Protocol Implementation Q&A

This Q&A page is a "live page" based on questions from our SFU Community Members since the announcement of a new sick leave Protocol for CUPE 3338 members was released on September 21, 2017.  We encourage you to visit this page often as more questions will be posted as they are being received.

Q: How long will CUPE 3338 member employees be required to provide a medical certificate for every absence once they have been identified as having excessive absenteeism?

A:  As of October 1, 2017, every CUPE 3338 member employee who reached the trigger of two times the University Casual Sick Leave Average for 2016, in 2016 (January 1st to December 31, 2016), will be required to provide a medical certificate satisfactory to the University for paid sick leave at least until March 31, 2018.  

On March 31, 2018, if their Casual Sick Leave usage for 2017 (January 1st – December 31, 2017) falls under the University Casual Sick Leave Average for 2017 (available on March 31, 2018), then the requirement to provide a medical certificate satisfactory to the University for paid sick leave will end.  However, if on March 31, 2018, their 2017 casual sick leave reached two times the University Casual Sick Leave average for 2017, then the employee will be required to provide a medical certificate satisfactory to the University at least until March 31, 2019.

Furthermore, if an employee reaches two times the University Casual Sick Leave Average any time during 2017, they will be required to provide a medical certificate until March 31, 2019. As before, their casual sick leave usage will be assessed against the current sick leave average which at this time is the 2016 average.


Q: Where should I send my Claim for Casual Illness and Sick Leave Benefits Form once it has been filled out and approved by my supervisor?

A: Please send your Claim for Casual Illness and Sick Leave Benefits Form to the Return to Work and Disabiltiy Management Office via e-mail to


Q: Is it CUPE's responsibility to communicate this change?

A: Although CUPE 3338 will communicate this change to their members it is ultimately your responsibility as a Manager/Supervisor to communicate this change to your employees.


Q: What communication formal/informal is expected from managers to their CUPE staff? We certainly plan to share this in our weekly team meetings.

A: On September 27th, CUPE 3338 members received an email from our Office communicating the changes to sick leave aggregation and sick leave management. For a copy of the e-mail please click here.  Please refer to this e-mail when communicating to your CUPE 3338 employees in an effort to keep the information consistent.


Q: When would the sample notification letter (Section 2.1) be ready?

A: You will only receive a copy of the Excessive Casual Sick Leave letter from our Office when one or more of your employees have reached the 2 x Casual Sick Leave University Average threshold.  Please do not provide a letter to your employee unless you have either received an e-mail from our office or you have consulted with our Office in advance.


Q: What is the Casual Sick Leave Average for 2016?

A: The Casual Sick Leave Average for 2016 for all SFU employees (excluding SFUFA members) is 27.34 hours.


Q: What should I do if the requirement for a CUPE 3338 member to provide a physician's statement is triggered on the Thursday immediately prior to a non-pay day Friday? 

A: Depending on the individual circumstances it may or it may not be reasonable to expect a medical certificate on the due date (non pay-day Friday).  Even though a deadline has been set as a guideline, we encourage managers and supervisors using a reasonable persons test or reasonable approach and consider mitigating factors if the medical certificate is not presented within a reasonable period of time.  An example of a mitigating factors is when an employee did visit their physician but the medical office did not fax the form to the University on time.


Q:  Casual Sick Leave is defined in the CUPE 3338 Collective Agreement as 21 hours or less.  What happens to CUPE 3338 member employees on Modified Work Week schedule (i.e. their day is not 7 hours, but 7.78 instead)?   

A: For the purposes of Casual Sick Leave under this Protocol, the standard measure for Casual Sick Leave is 21 hours or less.  Therefore if your work days are 7.78 hours long, if you take 3 sick days it will be considered Sick Leave and not Casual Sick Leave.


Q:  Should we count hours (21) or days (3) when determining casual vs extended absence?  The FAQ ( says 21 hours, but the Collective agreement (35.03) says 3 days.

A: The Collective Agreement defines a standard work day as 7.0 hours (Article 24.01), therefore 3 days = 21 hours.

Q: What documentation, if any, should the supervisor be retaining, and how?  What about email?  We are concerned about privacy and retaining an employee's medical information.


A: Ideally, Supervisors should not retain any confidential medical information.  All physician certificates and Claim for Casual Illness and Sick Leave Benefit Forms must be sent to the Return to Work/Disability Management Office.  If you do have e-mails that contain medical information we recommend that you delete them from your Inbox and also from your Trash Inbox.  It is the employees’ responsibility (not the supervisor’s) to keep a copy of all medical information that may be used in the claim and aggregation of sick leave benefits.  This information should be kept for at least 7 years.

Q:  Who is going to be responsible for aggregation: Return to Work/Disability Management or supervisors?  In the past Library managers have been asked to compile information at the time of aggregation, but our understanding is that we may no longer even receive information on the nature of the illness.


A: RTW/DM has always been and will continue to be responsible for aggregation. In the past, managers have been asked to help gather any information that may help their employees in constructing an aggregation.  Ultimately it is the employee’s responsibility to provide supporting documentation for aggregation purposes, not the supervisor’s.

Employees have always had the option and continue to have the option of not sharing the nature of illness with their supervisors if they wish to maintain their medical information confidential.


Q:  Please define "nature of the illness" and provide examples.  The Attending Physician's statement makes no mention of "nature of illness" but asks for a description of "the functional limitations and restrictions that prevent the employee from performing the duties of the job."    We are confused about how you will be able to aggregate based on this information, i.e. you appear to be asking for a description of symptoms not the underlying cause? 


A: Our Office defines the nature of illness as the expression or expressions of a disease and its meaning or meanings to the individual experiencing these expressions.  These expressions can be either signs and/or symptoms of the illness and/or physical and/or mental restrictions and/or limitations.

E.g.: A patient with a diagnosis of Diabetes may express the following as the nature of the illness: severe foot pain, extreme fatigue or lack of energy, frequent or recurrent infections.