Earlier this year, the BC provincial government surveyed employers and employees to determine if paid sick leave should be legislated in BC. The BC government set out to determine whether workers and employers would mutually benefit from a paid sick leave requirement.

The surveys asked questions about current employer sick leave programs. Questions for employers included whether they provided paid sick days, and how many days paid sick leave are acceptable. Workers were asked how many days of paid sick leave they would need in order to be comfortable staying home sick rather than going to work because they couldn’t afford the time off.

Survey results paved the way for the new provincial sick pay program which comes into effect on January 1, 2022. Here’s what you need to know.

How Paid Sick Leave Impacts Workers

The BC Employment Standards Act currently allows employees to take three days unpaid leave when sick. This will not be changing in January. The new sick leave legislation provides for additional paid sick days for up to five days. To be eligible, employees must be covered by the Employment Standards Act. This means full-time, part-time, temporary, and casual employees are all eligible. 

Employees can take their three unpaid days in addition to the five paid days. This is legislation. You cannot legally be fired for taking your sick days if you are an eligible employee under the BC Employment Standards Act. 

How Paid Sick Leave Impacts Employers

As of January 1, 2022 employers must pay their employees up to five days of sick leave when employees are sick. The pay must be equal to the employees’ regular wages. Employees can take their sick days consecutively or spaced apart. 

The point of this new legislation is to encourage workers to stay home when they are sick rather than come to work and spread illnesses around the office. Employers should take a moment to consider what this means.

This new sick leave legislation has the potential to increase costs for employers. Five days of paid sick days is equivalent to one work week. This will increase payroll costs by up to 2% per employee. An even more costly alternative is having to shut down because you don’t have enough staff to run your business, because they contracted Covid from an employee who couldn’t afford to stay home.

Some Things to Think About

In the past, some groups in society have taken the view that if you’re not dying, you can go to work. This all changed dramatically with the Covid-19 pandemic. Going to work sick could mean spreading a dangerous virus that could kill someone. It’s time to change our attitudes about sick days, and this legislation is helping to do this. 

When you take care of your employees by following this new sick pay protocol, you’re sending the message that your employees are important to you. This can improve employee-employer relationships and foster employee loyalty. In an economy where businesses are struggling to find good workers, this is more important than ever.

As of January 1, 2022 workers are eligible for five paid sick days equivalent to their regular wages. This is in addition to the three unpaid sick days currently available. If you have questions regarding how this new legislation affects your business, please get in touch.