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What should a permanent paid sick-leave program entail? B.C. wants to know

The province has begun a public consultation process to address current options; if findings ring true, regulation could come in effect by Jan. 1, 2022.
Should B.C. implement a regulation that guarantees permanent paid sick leave options for workers and workplaces?

B.C. says it wants to establish a regulation that sees permanent paid sick leave in effect by Jan. 1, 2022.

Before that possibility, however, the provincial government is reaching out to the public to hear its testimonies as the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the issue of limited options for low-wage workers.

According to a release, 50% of B.C. employees currently don't have access to paid sick leave.

This is said to be a particular problem among vulnerable residents, especially women and migrant workers, when it comes to having any form of benefits that can contribute to a better quality of life.

“Providing paid sick leave benefits to all B.C. employees will be a significant change for many businesses, especially smaller operations," explains Small Business BC CEO Tom Conway.

"That’s why I’m encouraging all SBBC’s membership to participate in this consultation process. It’s important that government understands how it will affect businesses so the new requirements will be reasonable and practical.”

B.C. labour minister Harry Bains points to the pandemic and the thousands of residents that switched to working from home in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

For low-income workers — some of which didn't have a work-from-home option — this became a hindrance and forced them to make personal difficult decisions.

“No one should have to choose between going to work sick or losing wages,” Bains says, adding more than one million workers would be impacted if a "made-in-B.C." permanent paid sick leave is implemented next year.

“Paid sick leave is good for businesses, good for workers and good for our communities. By supporting people and businesses, we will help B.C.’s economy recover faster.”

In May 2021, in response to COVID-19, the province explains it made changes to the Employment Standards Act in creating a temporary program that provided up to three days of leave until Dec. 31, 2021. 

For businesses, the B.C. government is covering those three-day leaves with reimbursements of $200 a day per worker.

A provincial public engagement process to learn more about current leaves available began on Thursday (Aug. 5) with its first of two phases

  • Now until Sept. 14
    • Surveys will gather information from employers and workers on the kinds of paid illness and injury leaves currently provided, and how they are meeting workers’ needs
  • Sept. 20 to Oct. 25
    • Informed by the surveys, options will be prepared for various paid sick leave models, including the numbers of paid days and other supports, and will be posted for public feedback and input

B.C. says its also reaching out to Indigenous partners and key stakeholders through the permanent paid sick leave consultation

If you wish to participate, you're encouraged to visit Engage BC's website.