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BC Paid Sick Leave: Here’s All Employers Need to Know

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Come 2022, workers in British Columbia will be able to stay home when sick without having to worry about losing their pay.

From January 1, 2022, all BC employees covered by the BC Employment Standards Act (ESA) will be entitled to a minimum of five paid sick leave days per year if they need to stay home due to an illness or injury.

This five-day paid sick leave entitlement will be in addition to the existing provision for three days of unpaid sick leave under the BC Employment Standards Act.

This permanent paid sick leave has been added as an amendment to Section 49.1 of the ESA. It is under Section 49.1 that the existing entitlement to three days of unpaid sick leave for illness or injury per year is provided to eligible workers.

Who does the paid sick leave apply to?

All employees covered by the BC Employment Standards Act would be eligible for this paid sick leave, including part-time, temporary, or casual workers.

However, employees in federally regulated workplaces, self-employed workers or independent contractors and employees in professions excluded from the ESA wouldn’t be eligible for this leave.

Employees should have worked with an employer for at least 90 days to be eligible for the five-day paid sick leave.

What about the COVID-19 paid sick leave program?

The current COVID-19 paid sick leave program, which provides for up to three days of paid leave for COVID-19 related reasons, is available until December 31, 2021. It was set up through a temporary amendment to the ESA to support businesses that do not already offer paid leave to staff. The BC government reimburses employers up to $200 per day per sick employee. But if workers make more than $200 per day, the employer has to pay the difference.

Would the employer be required to compensate for this leave, or the BC government?

It would be the employer. Unlike the temporary COVID-19 paid sick leave program, the five-day paid sick leave would be completely funded by the employer.

Will employees have to provide a doctor’s note to avail of the paid sick leave?

Yes. The employer is allowed to ask for reasonable proof of illness or injury for which the leave is being availed.

How will this new ESA provision affect employers?

BC employers covered by the ESA will be required to provide their eligible staff with up to five days of job-protected paid sick leave per year from January 1, 2022. Employers affected by this change should update their employment contracts and sick leave policies before the new paid sick leave comes into force on January 1, 2022.

Do you need help updating your sick leave policy to comply with the new amendment?

Our experts can help you with human resource management and support you with any other HR, health and safety, or employment matters that arise. To learn more about how our services can benefit your business, call an expert today at 1 (833) 247-3652.