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Benefit Eligibility During Leaves

Please check your local collective agreement or check with your local union office for specific information for your district

For Medical Leaves

  • Do not resign your position while on sick leave without first consulting the BCTF Income Security Division and your local.
  • Resignation will terminate your eligibility for most benefits.

a. Paid sick leave

  • While absent because of illness and receiving paid sick leave (i.e., your regular salary), all of your benefits and BCTF membership are maintained as if you were still working, and premiums or contributions towards all benefits are deducted as usual.

b. BCTF Salary Indemnity Plan

  • Upon application to the BCTF, members who are disabled may receive wage loss benefits following termination of paid sick leave.
  • Complete plan regulations are in the Members' Guide, Procedure 13 C.2.
  • Check with your school board office or local to ensure that premium payments and benefit coverage will be maintained for:
    • Extended health benefit plan (EHB)
    • Dental plan
    • Group life insurance plan(s)
  • If approved for SIP benefits, pension service is reported by the BCTF to the Teachers’ Pension Plan.

c. Employment Insurance sickness benefits

  • No Employment Insurance benefits are payable if receiving BCTF Salary Indemnity Plan benefits.
  • If you have been receiving regular EI benefits, the combination of these regular benefits and special benefits, (i.e. maternity, parental and sickness) cannot exceed the greater of 50 weeks of benefits or your regular EI benefit entitlement, except for birth mothers who may receive up to 65 weeks of benefit.
  • Regular EI benefits may be available after expiration of EI sickness benefits if you are able to work.

d. Workers' Compensation

  • If your absence is the result of a work-related injury or illness, apply for Workers' Compensation benefits immediately.
  • Application forms are available from your school office, local, or school district office.

e. Teachers' Pension Plan

  • Full pension service accrues while on paid sick leave.
  • If you are receiving benefits from the SIP: Short Term or Long Term plan, your pension service credit accrues without any contribution.
  • If you are on an unpaid leave of absence for illness and not receiving disability benefits from any plan, refer to the following section on pensions under "For all other leaves".

f. Life insurance

  • The various life insurance plans have different requirements for waiver of Premium when you are disabled. You should check with your school board or local to determine what has to be done to maintain your coverage or to obtain a waiver of premium.

g. Extended health benefits and dental benefits

  • Check with your collective agreement and local to determine your eligibility for health benefits during a medical leave of absence, especially after sick leave has expired.
  • If you are not eligible to maintain your group health benefits during an extended medical leave of absence you may purchase individual coverage from various carriers.

Employment Insurance Compassionate Care benefits

  • Compassionate care benefits are Employment Insurance (EI) benefits paid to people who have to be away from work temporarily to provide care or support to a family member who is gravely ill, and who has a significant risk of death within 26 weeks (six months). A maximum of six weeks compassionate care benefits may be paid to eligible people.
  • The BC Employment Standards Act also states that:
    An employee who requests leave under this section is entitled to up to 8 weeks of unpaid leave to provide care or support to a family member if a medical practitioner issues a certificate stating that the family member has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks, or such other period as may be prescribed after:
    • the date the certificate is issued, or
    • if the leave began before the date the certificate is issued, the date the leave began.
  • All benefits continue to apply as if the member is working, and pension credit is purchasable, with the employer paying their share of the purchase cost.

For all other leaves

a. Premiums and coverage

Check with your local or school board office to ensure that premium payments and benefit coverage will be maintained for:

  • extended health benefit plan (EHB)
  • dental plan
  • group life insurance plan(s)

b. BCTF membership

If on an unpaid leave of absence, you retain active membership in the Federation and your local without payment of fees.

c. Teachers’ Pension Plan

  • If on unpaid leave of absence, you may apply to the Teachers’ Pension Plan to purchase the pension service based on the current monthly salary.
  • If on leave of absence with full salary, pension contributions will be deducted and full pensionable/contributory service will be credited.
  • If on leave of absence with partial salary, (e.g., reduced assignment and unpaid leave of absence for the balance of the original assignment or education leave with partial salary), contributions continue on the salary paid. You may apply to the Teachers’ Pension Plan to make contributions on the difference between the salary being paid each month and the equivalent full-time salary for that month.
  • If on maternity leave of absence, you may purchase up to 17 weeks with a possible extension to 24 weeks (Employment Standards Act) of pension service.
  • Teachers’ Pension Plan contributions are paid on top-up benefits for leaves provided under the Employment Standards Act.
  • If on parental leave, you may purchase up to 35 weeks (Employment Standards Act) of pension service. Extended material leave or parental leave beyond the limits above may also be purchased as general leave.
  • Contact the Teachers’ Pension Plan or BCTF Income Security for application forms or information.

Please note that the regulations of the Teachers’ Pension Plan contain restrictions on the number of months which can be purchased and deadlines for making payments.

For Strikes and Lockouts


Since contributory service is credited for any month in which a contribution is made, only a strike lasting more than one calendar month would affect contributory service.

Pensionable service used in the pension calculation will be reduced by about 0.05 of a month for each day of absence to a maximum reduction of 1.0 for any one calendar month. Contributions cannot be made to the pension plan for service lost during a strike or lockout.

Sick leave 

The effect of a strike or lockout on sick leave will be decided initially by the school board. Past experience indicates the employer’s decision would be along the following lines:

  1. a teacher who is in receipt of paid sick leave when a strike/lockout begins should continue to receive salary during the period of the strike for as long as his/her sick leave bank entitles him/her to benefits.
  2. A teacher who becomes ill after a strike/lockout begins will not normally be entitled to paid sick leave until the strike ends and normal teaching routines commence.

Salary Indemnity Plan benefits 

A teacher in receipt of Salary Indemnity Plan benefits when a strike/lockout commences will continue to receive benefits provided he/she remains eligible. The teacher is not eligible for strike pay during this period.

A teacher who is on paid sick leave when a strike/lockout commences and who exhausts his/her sick leave during the strike will be eligible to apply for SIP benefits immediately.

A teacher who becomes ill during a strike/lockout and has no sick leave credits will not be entitled to SIP benefits until the strike/lockout ends.

A teacher who is on accommodation employment will continue to be eligible for partial SIP benefits during the strike or lockout.

Group Benefits

As a general rule, coverage for Medical Services Plan of BC, Extended Health Benefits, Dental, and Group Life Insurance will be maintained during a strike/lockout if the appropriate premiums are paid. Arrangements with the school board regarding the continuation of premium payments should be made by the local. Such arrangements are normal practice during a strike/lockout. 

The local should negotiate the full payment of premiums by the school board as part of the conditions of returning to work.

Employment Insurance

Section 36 of the EI Act covers labour disputes. The Employment Insurance Commission will decide if a person had employment to lose and actually lost it because of a strike/lockout.

Teachers under contract have no rights to EI unemployment benefits during a strike/lockout.

A teacher-on-call who had “regular” substitution work (i.e., had worked on a more or less regular basis in the past few weeks) and did not receive work because of a strike/lockout would probably not be eligible for EI benefits.

If there was no record of “regular” work immediately prior to the strike/lockout, the eligibility question is much clearer, and the person would probably be eligible for EI benefits, provided all other EI requirements are met.

Teachers-on-call with an ongoing EI claim may be required by EI to complete a questionnaire. This should be completed from the position that the teacher-on-call is a casual employee who is primarily unemployed. Such people may wish to continue to seek non-teaching employment and submit weekly report cards. Otherwise EI benefits may be suspended.

A teacher whose contract terminates or who is terminated during a strike may not be eligible for EI benefits until the strike ends.

EI maternity, parental, sickness, or training benefits 

A teacher who commenced leave before a strike/lockout would be eligible for the special EI benefits whether the claim for EI maternity/parental benefits was submitted before or during the strike/lockout.

If a teacher's leave was arranged or anticipated prior to the strike/lockout and the EI claim commences during a strike/lockout, the special EI benefits would be payable during the strike/lockout.

All of the above on EI is general only—each case must be looked at individually. Persons who consider they are eligible should apply for EI benefits. If unhappy with EI's decision, appeal!