The package that accompanies a co-op employment with the B.C. government is pretty standard across the board. You get a standardized hourly wage, access to the same flexible working options as your co-workers, such as taking one day off every two weeks, and you get a small percentage salary bump in exchange for the complete lack of any health benefits or medical leave whatsoever.
This came as a huge surprise in my first co-op with the government, when I had to take a week off to recover from strep throat and found out when I returned that no amount of that was paid leave, and that I would be expected to work overtime for the rest of my term to make up for the days off if I didn’t want my next paycheque to be chopped in half. I found the lack of transparency in that situation especially frustrating. The absence of paid leave is something I have had to be hyper-vigilant about ever since. Unlike some of my full-time co-workers, I simply can’t afford to take time off if my finances are drained from bill payments and it’s coming near the end of the month.
The lack of medical support for co-op students has especially impacted me when I consider all the costs associated with medically transitioning. While I’m currently covered for the costs of hormones and other treatments through the UVic student health plan, I won’t have that to lean on when I graduate in a couple months. And even if I were to find a regular, full-time employment with the B.C. government as soon as I finished school, it takes at least six months to complete the initial probationary period to qualify for health benefits.
At the same time, if I were to gain a regular position with the government, I would qualify (eventually) for paid medical leave if I made the choice to undergo surgery to transition.
In the meantime, my co-op position got extended six months (wow, way to bury the good news Lukas!), so while I still won’t have benefits for that extended period, I will have more time to consider all of this, and also look for a regular job. I’ll detail that job hunt process in a future post, but for now,
~good night 🙂