As preparations continue for the upcoming round of collective bargaining, no issue has seen greater public attention than that of sick leave.

Many members of the FI Community have received information from their departments or read in the media about the creation of a new wellness and productivity strategy, including a new short-term disability program, for federal employees.

As we explained in our update on this issue back in May, the employer may have the right to introduce new programs unilaterally but any changes to existing sick leave provisions must be collectively bargained.

And this morning, the Parliamentary Budget Officer poured cold water on some of the claims that are regularly made by Treasury Board representatives about the costs of the existing sick leave program. Indeed, the PBO report concluded that the incremental cost of paid sick leave is not fiscally material and did not represent material costs for departments, even for those very few departments that do backfill sick employees.

So while there are many possible forms of recourse before us, for now our focus is on preparing for the upcoming round of bargaining. This week we received the formal notice to bargain from Treasury Board and our Collective Bargaining Committee has been meeting to finalize the list of demands we’ll bring to the table based on the results of the survey we conducted in May.

We will continue to monitor the communications coming from government departments about the wellness and productivity strategy and we’ve reached out to departments to ask them to cease and desist in the interest of allowing the collective bargaining process to unfold as it should.