Sick Leave & Disability

Good health and the ability to work are gifts we usually take for granted. Earnings from that work are often the major source of income for most individuals and their families. Sick leave and disability insurance provide financial protection in the event that you are unable to teach due to sickness or injury.

Sick Leave

Paid sick leave is a benefit negotiated through the provincial collective bargaining process ( Article Seven on page 16 of the Provincial Collective Bargaining Agreement). Full-time teachers under contract, in accordance with The Education Act, 1995, are entitled to 20 days of annual sick leave. The sick leave entitlement for part-time teachers and teachers on a temporary contract is prorated based on the percentage of contract of employment held by the teacher.

You can accumulate the unused portion of your annual sick leave up to a maximum of 180 days. Accumulated sick leave credits are portable from one jurisdiction to another within the PreK-12 public education system in Saskatchewan, though some time limits may apply to portability.

You will continue to receive your regular salary while on sick leave.

You do not need to apply to access your sick leave entitlement. However, if you are utilizing sick leave for a medical, dental or optical appointment, you are expected to schedule the appointment in such a way as to minimize the period of absence.

Not necessarily. You may obtain the necessary services from a particular location if you have reasonable grounds to do so; however, it is expected that you will schedule appointments in a way that minimizes your period of absence from work. The period of absence deducted from your sick leave includes travel to and from that location.

You must notify your employing school board of any time you take off due to sickness or disability. Notify your administrator as soon as possible so arrangements can be made regarding your absence. Be sure to follow your school board’s policies regarding notice requirements.

Your school board may request  Form 7-1: Verification of Sickness – Practitioner’s Report, within 30 days from the first day of absence. A second medical opinion and the completion of  Form 7-II: Second Opinion of Sickness – Practitioner’s Report may also be required at the school board’s expense.

If you anticipate that you won’t have enough accumulated sick leave to support you for the duration of your medical leave, we encourage you to contact the Federation well in advance of the expiration of your accumulated sick leave. A senior administrative staff member will assist you in navigating your options regarding your employment situation. You should also contact the Income Continuance Plan immediately to request an application for disability benefits.

Disability Insurance

As a member of the Federation, you have disability insurance through the Income Continuance Plan for the duration of your teaching contract, unless you are receiving a pension, are age 65 or older or have 35 years of pensionable service.

It is important to note that disability payments do not begin automatically upon expiration of accumulated sick leave payments – you must apply for benefits and your claim must be approved by the Claims Committee. 

If you are a member of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Superannuation Plan, you may also be entitled to a disability benefit from that plan. Contact the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Superannuation Commission for more information.

If you expect to be off work beyond the date for which you will receive accumulated sick leave payments, contact the Income Continuance Plan immediately to avoid experiencing a gap in financial support during your medical leave. If your application is completed in a timely manner and your disability claim is approved, disability benefits will begin when your accumulated sick leave payments end.

Board’s Duty to Accommodate

In general terms, the duty to accommodate refers to the requirement of an employer to tailor, adjust or alter the workplace environment so as to give a person with a disability an equal opportunity for employment. The requirement to accommodate an employee who has a disability comes from the obligations of human rights and labour law.

If a teacher has a disability that requires an accommodation in the workplace, there are processes that must be carried out by the teacher and the employer.

If you have a disability and require an accommodation to continue working or return to work, you are encouraged to seek information and support from a Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation senior administrative staff member. 

Some critical information about accommodation for disability is provided in the document  Duty to Accommodate: Guide for School Divisions and Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation Members.

Pension and Group Benefits While on Medical Leave

If you are on a full- or part-time contract, or a temporary contract of 20 or more teaching days, you and your dependants will continue to be covered under the STF Members Health Plan and the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Dental Plan while on leave for reasons of sickness or disability. You also have coverage while you are receiving disability benefits from the Income Continuance Plan and/or the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Superannuation Plan, provided you are on contract immediately before your disability payments begin.

Coverage under the health and dental plans ends at midnight of the day before your 65th birthday, if you are receiving disability benefits.

If you were actively teaching at the start of the school year, the balance of premiums for the mandatory group life insurance for that year are deducted from your last paycheque before your accumulated sick leave is exhausted.

If you do not return to teach at the start of the following year, premiums will be deducted from your Income Continuance Plan benefits, or if applicable, the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Disability Benefits Plan. Teachers who are totally disabled may apply to waive their life insurance premiums. Contact the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Superannuation Commission for more information.

Your Portaplan coverage is maintained as long as your premiums are paid when due. Teachers who have been totally disabled for at least six months and are under age 60 may apply to continue insurance coverage without further premium payments. Application must be made in writing and a medical certificate is required.

While you are on sick leave, your school board will continue to deduct pension contributions from your salary, and you will be credited pension service for this period. 

If you are receiving disability benefits from the Income Continuance Plan or the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Superannuation Plan, you will be credited pension service for that portion of your teaching time that you are in receipt of the disability benefit. You are not required to make pension contributions while you are receiving disability benefits from either of these plans.