Permanent Paid Sick Leave – Results

Engagement Summary

The engagement helped government establish paid sick leave for BC’s workers, allowing employees covered by the Employment Standards Act to stay home when sick or injured without losing wages. Permanent paid sick leave is vital to reducing the workplace transmission of illness, and supports workers, employers, and BC’s economic recovery.

Phase one –  Two online surveys were available – one for employers and one for workers. All responses were compiled and analyzed as a group.  The online surveys were available for response from August 5 to September 14, 2021.

Phase two –  Informed by the results of the two surveys, an Options Paper was developed which presented possible models for the new paid sick leave entitlement of three, five or ten days.  The Options Paper was available for public comment from September 22 to October 25th, 2021.

On November 24, 2021, government announced the decision on the minimum number of paid sick leave days. As of January 1, 2022, employees covered by the Employment Standards Act are entitled to five employer-paid sick leave days per year.

Engagement Timeframe

August 5, 2021 to October 25, 2021

What We Heard – Summary

Engagement Data
  • By the close of the engagement period, more than 60,000 responses had been received for both phases of the public consultation.
  • British Columbians were invited to provide feedback in Punjabi, Chinese, Korean, English and Tagalog on the engagement site.
  • There were 26,742 responses to the Phase One online surveys, with 22,683 worker surveys and 4,059 employer surveys completed.
  • There were 33,975 responses to the Phase Two Options Paper questionnaire, with 26,138 workers, 5,081 employers and 2,756 other types of respondents (including retirees and students) completing questionnaires. 
Input Received
  • Almost 50% of workers who responded indicated that they did not have access to any paid sick leave.
  • More than 62% of employers who responded reported that they did not provide sick leave to any of their employees.
  • Compared to workers with paid sick leave, workers without paid sick leave are more likely to lose pay due to being sick, are significantly less likely to have the option to work from home, and are more likely to go into work while sick.
  • Worker respondents most often reported using three to five days per year for illness; employer respondents reported similar use by their employees.
  • Paid sick leave entitlements varied by income level and industry. Those with higher incomes reported access to a greater number of paid sick days compared to those with lower incomes.
  • Worker respondents from Public Administration, Utilities, and Educational Services were most likely to have access to paid sick days and, on average, reported the highest number of paid sick days.
  • Respondents from Retail and Wholesale Trade, Construction, Accommodation /Food services, and Manufacturing were least likely to have access to any paid sick leave.
Summary of Support for all options
  Workers  Employers
Option 1 (3 Paid Sick Days) 64% 44%
Option 2 (5 Paid Sick Days) 75% 28%
Option 3 (10 Paid Sick Days) 81% 19%

Input Leads to Action

This information was used to inform government’s decision on how many days of permanent paid sick leave would be provided in BC as a new minimum entitlement under the Employment Standards Act.

Government chose to implement the second-choice option of both workers and employers:  an entitlement of 5 paid days.

Supporting research: Panel Survey Report

In addition to the online public engagement process, a panel survey of employees across BC was undertaken. While the online surveys were often completed by motivated members of the public with strong views on paid sick leave, the panel survey provided a randomly-sampled, representative snapshot of sick leave among all British Columbians.