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Shorter Annual Hours of Work , 5/4 work week

CUPE members in the health sector work a variety of shifts and hours. The majority of full-time members work 1948 hours annually, or the equivalent of a 5/5/4 work week.

To give members more time to spend with their families or assist with elder care responsibilities, the CUPE Health Care Council is seeking reduced work hours. In this Work and Family Bargaining Round, CUPE’s proposal calls for a full-time work year based on 1872 hours, the equivalent of a 5/4-work week.

Improved family / dependent care leave

The average age of a CUPE health care worker is about 45. This means many of our members are part of the sandwich generation – people who have child care and elder care responsibilities – and therefore have high levels of work and family conflict.

Yet the current collective agreement does not provide any days of paid leave to stay at home with a sick child or to take an elderly parent to a doctor’s appointment.

In this Work and Family Bargaining Round, we want to negotiate:

  • 3 paid days per year for Personal Leave
  • 6 paid days per year for Compassionate/ Bereavement Leave
  • 4 paid days per year for Leave for Serious Illness of a Family Member

Improved pensions and other benefits

SAHO Pension Plan contribution rates are amongst the lowest in the country, averaging only 4.6% of salary. Because the contribution rate is so low, pension benefits are also low. This means that many health care workers are living in poverty when they retire.

CUPE, along with other health care unions, has been demanding SAHO increase the contribution rates for both employers and employees. In the Work and Family Bargaining Round, CUPE is proposing a plan to increase the rates over five years and secure joint trusteeship of the Pension Plan.

It also wants future pension plan surpluses to be used for benefit improvements, instead of reducing or maintaining low contribution rates for employers.

Reduced workloads

Whether our members are caring for residents in their homes, sorting and washing hospital linen, preparing hot meals for patients or conducting medical lab tests, their workload has increased dramatically over the past decade.

There are many reasons for the rising workloads, but two of the most critical factors are reduced staffing levels and a rise in the number of patients requiring higher levels of care.

In their drive to reduce costs in the mid-nineties, many health care employers cut staffing levels and reduced employees’ hours. Only 41% of health care workers in the province now have full-time jobs; the majority work in part-time and casual positions.

In addition, many health employers are failing to replace staff when they are absent on sick leave and vacation leave – a practice that contributes to heavier workloads and more workplace injuries.

Health care injury claims represented 12.4% of total WCB claims in 1999, a statistic that reflects the poor working conditions in this sector.

In the Work and Family Bargaining Round, CUPE has proposed the creation of a joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee to deal with workload problems. The joint Workload Committee shall be mandated to receive and investigate complaints arising from workload issues and have the authority to implement solutions to the problems.