OPSEU/SEFPO members working in the OPS and Corrections are now protected from losing pay if they test positive for COVID-19 and have to quarantine.
“Front-line workers in the OPS and Corrections are risking their lives getting Ontarians through this pandemic – they shouldn’t have to risk their pay if they test positive,” said OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “I’m pleased the province is taking such a responsible approach on this.”
According to a Dec. 18 memorandum of agreement between the province and OPSEU/SEFPO, any OPS or Correction member who doesn’t have any or enough sick-leave credits to cover quarantine will receive additional “top-up” pay to defray any losses.
“Many of our members are doing the right thing and taking advantage of the voluntary testing the province has been offering since May,” said OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “Now that we’ve negotiated a guarantee that they won’t be penalized financially if they test positive, I’m hoping even more of our members will get tested.”
Here’s the complete text of the Memorandum of Agreement:
Memorandum of Agreement
The Crown in Right of Ontario
As represented by The Treasury Board Secretariat (“Employer”)
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (“OPSEU” or the “Union”)
Whereas the Province of Ontario is continuing to experience and address matters related to the COVID 19 pandemic;
And Whereas the parties acknowledge that the Province of Ontario has made testing available to employees of the Ontario Public Service (OPS)
And Whereas the parties signed a Memorandum of Agreement dated May 25, 2020 recognizing the importance and necessity of testing employees for COVID 19 as a measure to enhance the health and safety of OPS and the citizens of Ontario;
Now Therefore, the parties agree, without precedent or prejudice, to the following terms and conditions
- The parties agree that OPSEU Unified and Correctional bargaining unit employees who get tested for COVID-19 and receive a positive COVID-19 diagnosis may be eligible for paid leave once the employee notifies the Employer and provides confirmation of their diagnosis as soon as reasonably possible. The employee will not be eligible for paid leave until the respective Employer receives confirmation.
- The parties agree that, for the period of 14 days starting from the date of the positive test (“self-isolation period”):
- Employees will be required to use sick leave or attendance credits, as applicable and to the extent that these are available, to cover their absence.
- To the extent that the use of sick leave or attendance credits results in the employee receiving less income than they would receive based on hours of work they would have been scheduled, the Employer will provide additional “top up” payments that ensures that the employee maintains the income they would receive based on regular attendance and there will be no compensation for additional or premium payments they may have received (e.g. overtime). For employees who are not scheduled for the 14-day period, their income will be based on an average of the 12 week of earnings for regularly scheduled hours immediately prior to the self-isolation period.
- An employee who does not have access to sick leave or attendance credits under their respective collective agreement shall receive the ‘top up” payment referred to above as a total of all hours the employee would have normally been scheduled during the 14-day period (“self-isolation period”).
- Where an arrangement or practice is already in place that provides a greater benefit then listed above such arrangement shall continue. For clarity, if the employer is already paying an employee during the “self- isolation period” without deduction from any credits such arrangement shall continue.
- The “self-isolation period” will be considered time worked for the purposes of seniority and will be calculated based on the employee’s regularly scheduled or otherwise normal hours of work.
- The parties agree that, to the extent that workplace arrangements and an employee’s medical condition allow for it, an employee can be directed to carry out work during the period of self-isolation so long as the restrictions associated with self-isolation are maintained.
- The parties recognize that employees may be directed into self-isolation by public health authorities without a positive test for COVID-19, such as due to exposure to a known case. Other statutory and/or collective agreement provisions may apply to such employees, and this agreement will not apply in those circumstances.
- The parties agree that the results of any COVID-19 testing will be treated as personal health information and, as such, will be shared only with the individual employee and any records will be maintained confidentially. Notwithstanding the above, the parties recognize that the Employer may be obligated to disclose personal information about impacted employees to other government entities as a result of their positive diagnosis for COVID-19, including Public Health Ontario.
- Notwithstanding Paragraph 5 above, the parties recognize that it is the Employer’s right to publicly disclose a positive finding of COVID-19 in the workplace without the identification of individuals, and this does not constitute confidential information.
- The Parties will discuss disputes arising from this agreement at the CERC or BMERC, as applicable, for an expedited resolution of any grievances. Any unresolved disputes concerning the interpretation or application of this Memorandum of Agreement may be addressed through grievances in accordance with the respective collective agreement.
- This agreement will be effective date of signing and will continue to be in effect until June 30, 2021. The agreement may be extended by the parties upon mutual agreement.
Signed in Toronto this 18th day of December, 2020.