Made-in-B.C. permanent paid sick leave
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of paid sick leave. Although many employers already offer paid sick leave to their workers, it is estimated that 50% of B.C. employees do not have access to paid leave when they are sick or injured. As a result, many British Columbians must choose between going to work sick – and possibly infecting others – or staying home and losing wages. Typically, it is women, youth, minimum wage earners and other equity groups that are more likely to be in lower-paid jobs that do not provide benefits such as employer-paid sick leave.
The B.C. government believes that workers should not have to make the choice between going to work sick or injured, or losing wages – during a pandemic or at any time. In May 2021, government amended the Employment Standards Act to make 2 improvements:
- On a temporary basis, employers are now required to provide up to three days of COVID-related paid sick leave to employees. To support businesses struggling with the pandemic, employers are being reimbursed up to $200/day/worker. This temporary measure is in place until December 31, 2021.
- Established a permanent paid sick leave entitlement for all workers covered under the Employment Standards Act, to start on January 1, 2022. The minimum number of days per year are to be defined in a regulation. The feedback received from this engagement will inform the development of that regulation as well as any additional program supports arising from the consultation process.
B.C.’s new sick leave will be the first for our province.