New legislation was tabled on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 which would provide 3 days’ paid sick leave for anyone with Covid-19 symptoms or awaiting Covid-19 test results in BC. This program will be in place until December 31, 2021. After the pandemic, this legislation would create a permanent paid sick leave option for employees who are unable to work due to any illness or injury, starting on January 1, 2022. The number of paid sick days under that program has yet to be decided after consultation with the business community, labour organizations and Indigenous partners. This comes almost one year after the federal government encouraged provinces and territories to ensure that every employee in Canada who needs it would have access to 10 days of paid sick leave per year.
Under this legislation, employers will be required to pay their employees’ full wages for this leave. Beginning in June 2021, WorkSafeBC, on behalf of the Province, will administer reimbursement to employers who don’t have a sick leave program, up to a maximum of $200 per day.
The province has stated this measure is a way to “bridge the gap” between the period when an employee begins to experience symptoms and when the employee can access the federal Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit. Premier John Horgan has stated the federal program is difficult for employees to access since it doesn’t kick in until an employee has worked less than 50 per cent of their scheduled work week.
We will continue to follow this proposed legislation and update you as we learn more.