Changes to Article 12.6 in the Tentative Agreement modify our maternity and parental leave, to enable members to stretch their Top Up payments over 18 months, consistent with stretched EI benefits in proposed changes to the Employment Insurance (EI) Act. It has been argued that this is a concession that “could cost a woman who is entitled to the [proposed] 18 months over $20,000 per year” (see Bemister Facebook Post, Aug 2, 11am). This is absolutely not true. The calculations used to support that opinion are based on Article, 22.214.171.124, but ignore 126.96.36.199. A more complete calculation is included, with Rod’s numbers in the top five lines, and additional factors below.
Article 188.8.131.52, for example, limits the Top Up Plan by ensuring “it complies with Regulation 37(2) of the Employment Insurance Act”, which sets out the criteria that allows Top Up payments in the first place. If payments do not meet the criteria to be eligible, then they would be considered “other income”, and subject to “claw back”. And even though EI only claws back 50% of other income, Article 184.108.40.206 also allows the college to “claw back” what calculates to be exactly the other half, from it’s own Top Up payment. So, yes, the college will have to pay more money, but no support staff worker will ever see it: it will just get transferred from the college to itself or EI.
Subsection (d) sets a limit of 95% for the sum of the EI Benefit and Top Up. The Federal government will simply change that to 62% for 18 month leaves. This is exactly what they did when they brought in changes this year, to the waiting period for maternity leave. Why wouldn’t they do it again? They created a “transition period” of four years, with different calculations, to ensure neither employees nor employers got an unfair “windfall”. The time limited transition period forces unions and employers to negotiate new language consistent with the changed regulations, or risk losing eligibility to get Top Up at all. There won’t be the ability to even negotiate more than the regulated limit, through collective bargaining.
As you can see from the chart below, based on a member in Payband I, it will not matter whether a new parent chooses 12 or 18 months, or falls under current language or the new tentative agreement language: the pay received is the same (not $20,000 more). The only difference is, if we don’t change our language, our colleges pay a lot more and EI pays a lot less: that’s perfectly good college funding dollars being transferred into the Federal EI surplus, to the tune of $16,473.20 per baby, per year. So yes, this is something that is good for our employers. It makes no difference to us, except that we can spread the Top Up and get 6 more months of leave with benefits and pension. It is cost-neutral.
The $20,000 that we have been accused of losing was never real. It is a highly speculative and hypothetical figure based on the opinion that we can find an Invisibility Cloak big enough to hide 9,000 adults, while tip toeing through a maze of public and corporate employers and contract lawyers, to sneak a Windfall of $20,000 per college support staff baby, without negotiating. It is based on an argument that the federal Liberals are going to pass “cost neutral” changes to maternity and parental benefits, AND leave their provincial counterparts and Bay Street donators holding the bill. Not very likely at all. In fact, slightly less chance than a member on parental leave winning the lottery. You can’t give up something you never had.
|Compare Plans and Benefits||Current Plan and Proposed EI@52 Wks||Current Plan Transition Period EI@78 Wks||Tentative Agreement Plan EI@78 Wks|
|Current Weekly Pay||$1,345.30||$1,345.30||$1,345.30|
|93% of Pay||$1,251.13||$1,251.13||$1,251.13|
|Max EI Benefit||$537.00||$355.68*||$355.68|
|College Top Up||$714.13||$895.45||$472.99|
|EI Benefit + Top Up||$1,251.13||$1,251.13||$828.67|
|EI Max Allowable Rate for Top Up||95.0%||62.0%||62.0%|
|Max Eligible Top Up Total Under EI||$1,278.04||$834.09||$834.09|
|Top Up Considered “Other Income”||$0.00||$417.04||$0.00|
|Claw Back of Other Income from EI||$0.00||$208.52||$0.00|
|Claw Back of Other Income from College Top Up||$0.00||$208.52||$0.00|
|Revised EI Benefit||$537.00||$147.15||$355.68|
|Revised Top Up||$714.13||$686.93||$472.99|
|Amount Member Receives||$1,251.13||$834.09||$828.67|
|Week 1 EI (Waiting Period)||$0.00||$0.00||$0.00|
|Week 1 Top Up (Waiting Period)||$1,251.13||$834.09||$1,251.13|
|# Weeks Selected||51||77||77|
|Week 2-52 EI SubTotal||$27,387.00||$11,330.84||$27,387.00|
|Week 2-52 Top Up SubTotal||$36,420.58||$52,893.78||$36,420.58|