Five paid sick days introduced under the Employment Standards Act of British Columbia

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  • News
  • November 26, 2021

Five paid sick days introduced under the Employment Standards Act of British Columbia

Elizabeth Lotfali

The Province, after consulting with workers and employers across British Columbia, has legislated five paid sick days for employees regulated by the Employment Standards Act (the ESA).[1]

Effective January 1, 2022, employees can take up to five days of paid leave per year for personal illness or injury. This is in addition to the three days of unpaid sick leave currently provided under the ESA.[2]

In order to be eligible for the leave, employees must have worked for their employer for a minimum of 90 days. Eligible employees include part-time, temporary and casual employees.

Employees are not eligible if they are not covered by the Employment Standards Act. This includes:

  • Employees in federally regulated sectors such as airlines and telecommunications
  • Self-employed workers or independent contractors
  • Employees excluded from the Employment Standards Act, for example doctors, lawyers, professional accountants and engineers.

Employers can request proof of illness from employees requesting sick days. Employers must pay the employee regular wages for their five paid sick days. The sick days do not need to be taken consecutively.[3]

Unionized Workplaces

The new “paid personal illness or injury leave” provisions may also impact collective agreement entitlements.

For example, if a collective agreement already contains provisions respecting paid personal illness or injury leave, and together these provisions meet or exceed the paid leave requirements under the ESA, those provisions of the collective agreement replace the requirements of the ESA.

On the other hand, if a collective agreement contains no provisions respecting paid personal illness or injury leave, or contains provisions respecting paid personal illness or injury leave that, when considered together, do not meet or exceed the requirements of the ESA, the ESA is deemed to be incorporated in the collective agreement as part of its terms.

Disputes respecting the application, interpretation, or operation of the paid personal illness or injury leave in a unionized workplace must be resolved through the grievance procedure, not through the enforcement provisions of the ESA.

These amendments to the ESA will require unionized employers to assess the provisions respecting paid personal illness or injury leave within their collective agreements to determine if the collective agreement meets or exceeds the new ESA requirements.

The labour and employment team at Pulver Crawford Munroe LLP would be pleased to assist  you with this assessment.

[1] https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021PREM0073-002235

[2] https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/employment-business/employment-standards-advice/paid-sick-leave

[3] https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/employment-business/employment-standards-advice/paid-sick-leave#employer