Bulletin on Family Leave and Sick Leave

Dear Members,

In regards to the University’s request to make the Family Leave Pilot Project a permanent option. Several things have become clear as a result of the survey;

1) Our membership wants and needs time to take care of their family responsibilities,

2) 3 days allocated from one’s personal incidental sick leave is neither sufficient nor acceptable for many of you.

Although it is positive to enshrine the concept of leave for family responsibility within the Labour Relations consciousness here at McGill, allowing our members to use 3 days from their personal incidental (PI) days is wholly insufficient for many of us, and what is clearly needed is a bank of days dedicated for family responsibilities. As a result of the survey and discussions by the Union Council, as announced this week by McGill, we accepted the Family Leave provisions becoming permanent.

Some of you may have noticed that the law now provides for 2 paid days for a broad range of uses, including personal incidental illness and other family obligations. McGill’s position is that this change to the law does not give us access to two additional paid days, because we already have a mix of days, namely, personal days, floating holidays and PI days, for those purposes. We are not convinced by McGill’s arguments in this regard. But if we believe we either need or are entitled to additional paid leave we will have to either succeed in convincing an arbitrator that the law provides for it or convince McGill to add them during collective bargaining.

Please note: for those of us who serve as caretakers, we still entitled to 10 days of unpaid leave to look after the health or well being of others, in addition to the educational needs of our children.

Also please refer to the FAQ’s on the HR website as these leaves are not obligatory and your supervisor cannot cut down your PI days to 6. It is your choice to use to take PI days for family reasons.

Based on some of the comments we received in the survey and also throughout the year, we think it important to clarify certain aspects of personal incidental (PI) days. These include and what, when and how you are required to inform your supervisor, when a doctors note is required and why, and what to do if there is a conflict between you and your supervisor.

We have learned that certain supervisors and HR representatives have stated that you are required to submit a doctor’s note on the third day of an illness. You do not. You need to submit a note only if you wish to take advantage of Short Term Disability. This is advisable, if possible, because you will only use up 2 PI days instead of more. In addition to this, if you need more time to recover it will be simpler to extend the period if you’ve already submitted a note. It has also the advantage of avoiding unpleasant conversations with your supervisor, since it is Benefits that communicates the details of your absence.

You are not required to elaborate on the specifics of your illness when you inform your supervisor of an absence. You may say ‘I am not feeling well today so I will not be in’ or ‘ I am taking one of my personal incidental days today.’ This is important: your supervisor does not need to know your personal medical situation, so please do not volunteer any information!

Should your supervisor question your illness or make any demands or call you at home on the days you are off sick, contact your Steward or the MUNACA office immediately. They do not have the right to harass you or make any demands upon you when you are ill.

If you are on STD, for example, Benefits has the right to call you at home and ask about your particular illness or to relay important information; you may also respond to them via email, should you prefer, or have a union rep on the line as well, if you wish. You are not required to answer the phone, but McGill does have a right to communicate with you, as you remain an employee. It is often advisable to cc your Steward or MUNACA (at reception@munaca .com) on emails.

Last, but certainly not least: please fill out an incident report (and forward it to MUNACA) when you are involved in or are witness to an accident at work. An accident can be defined as any sudden incident that brings on signs or symptoms of an illness or medical issue, including mental illness. This can also include the effects of psychological or sexual harassment. If there is a serious accident that results in hospitalization or your absence from work it is essential that you communicate this to the union.

Yours in solidarity, 
The MUNACA Executive Committee