BC to Strengthen Paid Sick Leave

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Amendments to British Columbia’s (Canada) Employment Standards Act will strengthen the legislation on paid sick leave and simplify the administrative process for businesses to safeguard workers.

According to a press release by the B.C. government, Harry Bains, Minister of Labour, introduced changes to solve two issues brought up since the five days of employer-paid sick leave came into effect on January 1, 2022.

In the first case, businesses expressed concern that using an employment year instead of a calendar year to establish the annual sick leave entitlement is a hassle since it requires a specific time for each worker, based on the start date of their employment.

For ease of implementation, the act is being revised to refer to the calendar year–which standardizes the annual entitlement period for all employees regardless of the start of their employment. The total number of paid sick leave days per year will not be affected. It remains at five.

In the second case, there were concerns that some employees were denied from receiving the full five days of paid sick leave due to the existing language of the collective agreement.

The clause relating to collective agreements is currently being revised to ensure the government’s intent that paid sick leave entitlement applies to all workers in B.C.

Following a lengthy consultative process with the public, B.C. became the only province in Canada to implement a minimum standard of five paid sick leave each year.

Experience and research in other jurisdictions have revealed that most employees do not avail their full right to these sick leave days.

It has also been shown that cost increases for most companies were less than expected while significant benefits resulted, including increased productivity and retention of trained staff, reduced risks of injury, improved morale, and increased labor force participation.

The changes will take effect when Royal Assent–which is expected before the conclusion of the current legislative session, to ensure that the paid sick leave entitlement applies to the 2022 calendar year.

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