Teachers union blasts Hamilton board's ‘punitive’ strategy on sick days

News Apr 16, 2015 by Richard Leitner Hamilton Mountain News

Amid strenuous objections from its elementary teachers union, Hamilton’s public school board is poised to adopt a new policy to try to rein in ballooning spending on sick days in the wake of Bill 115.

The proposed “employee attendance support policy” gives principals and other supervisors the discretion to require a meeting with any employee who has been away from work for 10 days in a school year.

The sessions will try to determine if sick days are being abused or, in cases where they are seen as legitimate, “to discuss the impact the absences are having on the specific school, department or location, if appropriate, and to provide support and indicate support services available to the employee.”

The board is on target to overspend this year’s $15.9 million budget for supply teachers to cover sick leaves by $1 million despite having already increased it by $3.35 million over last year.

“We know there are major problems with attendance, and that theme is provincewide,” board chair Todd White said after trustees unanimously recommended approval of the initiative at their April 8 policy committee meeting.

“It’s not as if we expect all absences to disappear, because there are legitimate absences for a number of reasons, but the issue is that we need to get it under control.”

Jeff Sorensen, president of Hamilton’s elementary teachers union, denounced the new policy as punitive, arbitrary and a violation of privacy rights, suggesting targeted employees will be pressured to disclose confidential medical information.

Apart from trying “to guilt us into coming to work sick,” the policy gives too much discretion to principals, who aren’t medical professionals, to decide when to require a meeting, he said in a deputation to the policy committee.

“Teachers work in crowded environments with a huge potential for the transfer of viruses and bacteria. It’s hardly surprising that teachers become ill,” Sorensen said.

“Coming to work sick leads to other teachers and students becoming sick, which in turn leads, ironically, to more use of sick leave.”

White said all boards have seen a spike in sick days in the two years since Bill 115 imposed new collective agreements ending the ability of teachers and other employees to bank them and be paid out on retirement.

He said he hopes the Ministry of Education will either fund the higher costs or find a solution in the negotiations currently underway on a provincial framework for new collective agreements to replace existing ones that expired last August.

“Some (employees) are trying to maximize their sick entitlement,” White said. “In my opinion, it backfired on the ministry and boards are now wearing it, trying to do our best to mitigate the costs.”

Teachers union blasts Hamilton board's ‘punitive’ strategy on sick days

Board trying to ‘guilt us into coming to work sick’

News Apr 16, 2015 by Richard Leitner Hamilton Mountain News

Amid strenuous objections from its elementary teachers union, Hamilton’s public school board is poised to adopt a new policy to try to rein in ballooning spending on sick days in the wake of Bill 115.

The proposed “employee attendance support policy” gives principals and other supervisors the discretion to require a meeting with any employee who has been away from work for 10 days in a school year.

The sessions will try to determine if sick days are being abused or, in cases where they are seen as legitimate, “to discuss the impact the absences are having on the specific school, department or location, if appropriate, and to provide support and indicate support services available to the employee.”

The board is on target to overspend this year’s $15.9 million budget for supply teachers to cover sick leaves by $1 million despite having already increased it by $3.35 million over last year.

“It’s not as if we expect all absences to disappear, because there are legitimate absences for a number of reasons, but the issue is that we need to get it under control.”

“We know there are major problems with attendance, and that theme is provincewide,” board chair Todd White said after trustees unanimously recommended approval of the initiative at their April 8 policy committee meeting.

“It’s not as if we expect all absences to disappear, because there are legitimate absences for a number of reasons, but the issue is that we need to get it under control.”

Jeff Sorensen, president of Hamilton’s elementary teachers union, denounced the new policy as punitive, arbitrary and a violation of privacy rights, suggesting targeted employees will be pressured to disclose confidential medical information.

Apart from trying “to guilt us into coming to work sick,” the policy gives too much discretion to principals, who aren’t medical professionals, to decide when to require a meeting, he said in a deputation to the policy committee.

“Teachers work in crowded environments with a huge potential for the transfer of viruses and bacteria. It’s hardly surprising that teachers become ill,” Sorensen said.

“Coming to work sick leads to other teachers and students becoming sick, which in turn leads, ironically, to more use of sick leave.”

White said all boards have seen a spike in sick days in the two years since Bill 115 imposed new collective agreements ending the ability of teachers and other employees to bank them and be paid out on retirement.

He said he hopes the Ministry of Education will either fund the higher costs or find a solution in the negotiations currently underway on a provincial framework for new collective agreements to replace existing ones that expired last August.

“Some (employees) are trying to maximize their sick entitlement,” White said. “In my opinion, it backfired on the ministry and boards are now wearing it, trying to do our best to mitigate the costs.”

Teachers union blasts Hamilton board's ‘punitive’ strategy on sick days

Board trying to ‘guilt us into coming to work sick’

News Apr 16, 2015 by Richard Leitner Hamilton Mountain News

Amid strenuous objections from its elementary teachers union, Hamilton’s public school board is poised to adopt a new policy to try to rein in ballooning spending on sick days in the wake of Bill 115.

The proposed “employee attendance support policy” gives principals and other supervisors the discretion to require a meeting with any employee who has been away from work for 10 days in a school year.

The sessions will try to determine if sick days are being abused or, in cases where they are seen as legitimate, “to discuss the impact the absences are having on the specific school, department or location, if appropriate, and to provide support and indicate support services available to the employee.”

The board is on target to overspend this year’s $15.9 million budget for supply teachers to cover sick leaves by $1 million despite having already increased it by $3.35 million over last year.

“It’s not as if we expect all absences to disappear, because there are legitimate absences for a number of reasons, but the issue is that we need to get it under control.”

“We know there are major problems with attendance, and that theme is provincewide,” board chair Todd White said after trustees unanimously recommended approval of the initiative at their April 8 policy committee meeting.

“It’s not as if we expect all absences to disappear, because there are legitimate absences for a number of reasons, but the issue is that we need to get it under control.”

Jeff Sorensen, president of Hamilton’s elementary teachers union, denounced the new policy as punitive, arbitrary and a violation of privacy rights, suggesting targeted employees will be pressured to disclose confidential medical information.

Apart from trying “to guilt us into coming to work sick,” the policy gives too much discretion to principals, who aren’t medical professionals, to decide when to require a meeting, he said in a deputation to the policy committee.

“Teachers work in crowded environments with a huge potential for the transfer of viruses and bacteria. It’s hardly surprising that teachers become ill,” Sorensen said.

“Coming to work sick leads to other teachers and students becoming sick, which in turn leads, ironically, to more use of sick leave.”

White said all boards have seen a spike in sick days in the two years since Bill 115 imposed new collective agreements ending the ability of teachers and other employees to bank them and be paid out on retirement.

He said he hopes the Ministry of Education will either fund the higher costs or find a solution in the negotiations currently underway on a provincial framework for new collective agreements to replace existing ones that expired last August.

“Some (employees) are trying to maximize their sick entitlement,” White said. “In my opinion, it backfired on the ministry and boards are now wearing it, trying to do our best to mitigate the costs.”