Q – I had surgery twice in recent months and require a 3rd surgery. Management advanced sick leave in the past and it has been repaid but they are somewhat reluctant to advance the 5 weeks that I need this time. Are they required to do so?
A – The advance of sick leave is at management discretion and an arbitrator ruled on the subject (see below). One of the complications for management is the inability to recover the debt under certain circumstances especially since debt recovery from an employee’s accumulated severance pay (except for lay-offs) is now not an option.
The union still encourages managers to be compassionate in situations such as this one.
Ruling on the case “Between Maureen Bennet, Grievor and Treasury Board (Department of Human Resources and Skill Development), Employer”:
 Sick leave is an earned benefit, and the employer is not obligated to advance credits, even though the financial consequences for the employee may be significant. The employer made a reasoned assessment and exercised its discretion appropriately. The employer can suggest the use of other leave to cover absences from the workplace because of illness, but cannot require the employee to take compensatory or vacation leave. An employee has a right to take unpaid sick leave instead of using other leave.
 For all of the above reasons, I made the following order:
 The grievance is denied.
October 6, 2006.
Ian Mackenzie, adjudicator
President, Local 70713
Union of Environment Workers Component
Public Service Alliance of Canada