Simon Archer pushes back on sick leave allegations
The Globe and Mail reports that teachers and educational assistants are taking more sick leave days than they have in the past. According to a report prepared at the government’s request by the School Boards’ Co-operative Inc.:
The report showed that teachers who were members of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario took, on average, 12.76 sick days in the 2017-18 academic year, up from 8.3 in 2010-11. Other education workers belonging to the same union took 15.09 sick days, up from 7.88 in 2010-11.
Meanwhile, OSSTF teachers took on average 10.91 sick days in 2017-18, up from 7.19 in 2010-11.
The government is proposing to reduce entitlement to short term sick leave in order to save money and because it claims that absences have a negative impact on pupils. However, as the Globe notes, “unions representing teachers and education workers contend their members are under increased stress with fewer resources and larger classes, and violent incidents against educators have been on the rise.”
The Globe spoke to Simon Archer, who questioned the assumption underlying the government’s wish to slash sick leave entitlement that the increases indicate that sick leave is being abused:
Simon Archer, a labour lawyer in Toronto, said sick leave use has been increasing in all sectors in the country, perhaps a symptom of a more intense work environment with fewer resources. Mr. Archer’s firm negotiates on behalf of a couple of education unions.
He said that if there’s abuse, it should be addressed, but a benefit should not be taken away from employees if there’s a legitimate need for it. “It’s easy to stoke public resentment for these benefits. What you tend to lose sight of is, are people using it for a good reason? What I don’t like is posturing based on no real evidence,” Mr. Archer said.