Recent news stories regarding sick leave for AHS non-union employees are missing important facts and present an inaccurate picture of the situation at AHS. Here are the facts:
On average, AHS’ non-union employees report 6.5 sick days a year. In 2015, 40 per cent of non-union employees took no sick leave at all. A five-year comparison shows AHS’ sick hours are either at, or lower than, other western provincial health care authorities. We are also lower than the national Statistics Canada average of seven sick days annually for non-union employees.
AHS has 8,500 non-union employees. Many of them are in front-line roles, such as intensive care unit managers, mental health clinic professionals, food service supervisors, clinical practice leads, and nurse practitioners. Manager roles account for 38 per cent of our non-union employees.
Non-union employees do not have access to short-term disability insurance. For those employees, paid sick leave of up to 16 weeks is available to bridge them to the time when long-term disability insurance kicks in. It is important to note that non-union employees pay 100 per cent of long-term disability premiums.
The actual number of non-union employees who took the full allowance of paid sick leave in 2014 and 2015 was 56 out of a total of 8,500 people. The majority of this group (64 per cent) went on to long-term disability (LTD) due to very serious and ongoing health issues.
As a responsible employer, AHS wants to ensure all of our people are present at work and ready to provide safe, high quality care for all Albertans. In addition to supporting employees who fall ill or are injured, the measures we have in place often protect the patients we serve from infection.
We are always mindful of the cost to the health care system of employees’ sick time. AHS instituted an Attendance Awareness Program that requires more stringent reporting and management of absences. We have experienced a one per cent decrease in absences by union and non-union employees in the year since that program has been in place.
An Attendance at Work Policy requires medical proof of absence for all employees, including non-union staff and management. Proof of absence is mandatory after absences of two weeks and can be required much sooner than that, depending on the circumstance. AHS has support services in place to help employees who are ill or injured to return to work safely and in a timely manner.
In a letter to CTV Calgary on April 19, Interim President and CEO, Dr. Verna Yiu noted, “Our union and non-union employees are the heroes of our health care system – they make our work possible. In turn, we work hard to ensure our people are healthy and ready to provide safe, quality care for all Albertans. We are proud of the measures we have in place to support them when they are ill or injured.”