BC Employees Entitled to Paid Sick Leave

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Today the BC Government announced permanent sick leave for all employees in BC who are covered under the BC Employment Standards Act (“ESA”) effective January 1, 2022.

The legislation, which will likely be by way of an amendment to the ESA, will allow employees to take 5 (consecutive or non-consecutive) days of paid sick leave per year. As with the government’s implementation of a temporary 3-day paid sick leave during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic (ending December 31, 2021), the new sick leave will be fully funded by the employer. Unlike the COVID-19 leave, however, employers will not be able to seek reimbursement through WorkSafe BC.

Today’s announcement left a number of issues yet to be addressed:

  • Will medical proof of sickness be required?
  • Can the paid sick leave be used for sickness of dependents?
  • Will part time workers (who don’t work certain days) be allowed the full 5 days?
  • Will the employer have recourse if, as examples: an employee uses the sick leave on 5 work days preceding or following a long weekend, or, a number of employees seek to use some or all of the leave near year end?
  • Will sick leave provisions of a collective agreement supersede this new leave, or will bargaining unit employees be entitled to the more beneficial sick leave?

We are hopeful that the legislation will provide us with guidance on these and other questions. We will update you as soon as the legislation is released.

For question on this topic or other employment and labour law matters, please contact our Employment & Labour Group.