On November 24, 2021, the B.C. government announced that effective January 1, 2022, employees will be entitled to five days of paid sick leave for any illness or injury. This entitlement is in addition to the three days of unpaid sick leave currently provided by the Employment Standards Act and is not restricted to Covid-19 illness.
Who is eligible?
Eligible employees are those covered by the Employment Standards Act who have worked for at least 90 days. The changes do not apply to federally regulated employees, self-employed workers, or employees in professions and other occupations specifically excluded from the Act.
Who will pay for the sick days?
Employers are responsible for paying the costs of the paid sick days at their regular rate of pay. There is no reimbursement plan in place to cover the costs for employers.
Employees who qualify for paid leave must be paid an “average day’s pay”. This is equal to the amount paid or payable to an employee for work completed during the 30 day calendar period preceding the leave. This is then divided by the number of days the employee worked or earned wages in the 30 day calendar period.
Are sick notes required?
Employers are entitled to request “reasonable proof” that an employee is ill and in need of paid sick days. “Reasonable” is not defined in the legislation, and will likely be assessed on a situational basis.
As of January 1, 2022, all provincially regulated employers in British Columbia are required to provide five paid and three unpaid sick days annually. To avoid uncertainty, we recommend employers implement a written policy addressing the following:
Eligibility for paid and unpaid sick days
When a doctor’s note may be required (for example, after a defined number of consecutive missed days)
Sick days cannot be banked or carried over into a new calendar year
Payment of benefit premiums during an extended leave of absence
We offer a range of solutions and tailor our advice to the unique needs of each business. We invite you to contact Kelsey Wheelhouse and the Employment Law team at Davidson Lawyers for assistance in preparing your policy manual.
Disclaimer: This fact sheet is for general information purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal advice or opinions of any kind. We encourage you to seek legal advice from an employment lawyer for guidance about your particular workplace.