British Columbians are invited to have their say on three proposed options for permanent paid sick leave shaped by their responses to the first phase of consultation.
“Over the past several weeks, thousands of workers and employers have completed surveys to give us valuable information on their current sick-leave benefits, if any, and what is needed,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “Informed by those surveys, we are inviting British Columbians to once again have their say.”
Between Aug. 5 and Sept. 14, 2021, more than 26,000 surveys were completed by workers and employers. Feedback from the online surveys and the options paper will help create a made-in-B.C. permanent paid personal illness and injury leave that will be fair, balanced and reasonable for everyone.
“One of the most critical lessons from the pandemic has been the importance of people staying home when they are sick,” Bains said. “No one should have to choose between going to work sick or losing wages. Paid sick leave is good for businesses, good for workers and good for our communities. We’re asking for input on the next step toward making paid sick leave a permanent reality for British Columbia.”
The options paper has been posted on government’s engagement site and is available for comment until Oct. 25. Three options have been developed that cover the minimum number of days: three, five and 10 days of paid sick leave. To leave a comment on the engagement site, visit: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/paidsickleave/
In May 2021, amendments to the Employment Standards Act laid the groundwork for establishing minimum standards for permanent paid sick leave. Following the public engagement process, paid sick leave will be established through regulation and come into effect on Jan. 1, 2022.
- The May 2021 amendments to the Employment Standards Act also created a temporary COVID-19 paid sick leave program for up to three days of leave, until Dec. 31, 2021. To support businesses that do not already provide paid sick leave, government is reimbursing employers up to $200 per day per worker, to help cover their employees’ wages for the COVID-19 paid sick leave.
- An estimated 50% of B.C. employees do not have access to paid sick leave. This means more than one million workers in B.C. will benefit from receiving new paid sick leave.
- Many vulnerable and low-wage workers – often women or racialized workers – lack benefits, so the ability to take paid leave will be especially important to them.
To view the paid sick-leave options and participate in the consultation process, or learn about the consultation process, visit: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/paidsickleave/
For more information on B.C.’s employment standards, visit:
A backgrounder follows.