British Columbia’s year-old employer-paid sick leave rule needs amending.
That’s according to the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce (GVCC), which said it recently surveyed its members and found concern from some businesses that the rule is being abused.
“Employers want to do what is best for their employees, especially when they are ill,” said Dan Proulx, Greater Vernon Chamber general manager.
“However, it was clear during the survey that paid sick leave has created challenges for private sector and non-profit employers when it comes to staffing levels and costs.”
The province instituted the rule on Jan. 1, 2022, and employers are now required to provide eligible employees up to five days of paid sick leave.
The province says employers may reasonably request sufficient proof of illness, and that employees must have worked for an employee for at least 90 days to be eligible.
The chamber says the rule needs amending so it’s more efficient and transparent, and that it will be reaching out to Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu.
“It’s also evident that there is a lack of clarity around sick days and when they are available,” said Proulx, “and that, unfortunately, has led to some misunderstanding and, in some cases, abuse.”
In stating its position, the GVCC said “many of the survey respondents indicated that some employees are treating paid sick days as holidays and even trying to bank them for time off.”
It will be asking for the following rule amendments:
- That some form of verification of illness be identified, such as a physicians’ note;
- That employer-paid sick leave be pro-rated for part-time or casual staff;
- That employers be compensated for paid sick leave, potentially through WorkSafeBC.
However, in December, the B.C. Federation of Labour says it should be 15 days of paid sick leave, not five.
“The reality is we know five days isn’t enough,” BCFL president Susanne Skidmore told Global News.
“As we’re seeing with the uptick in health issues right now, five days — that’s just one sickness and that’s just once in a year.”