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B.C. announces five paid sick leave days

Darpan News Desk The Canadian Press, 24 Nov, 2021 02:36 PM
  • B.C. announces five paid sick leave days

VICTORIA - Workers in British Columbia will be eligible for "fair and balanced" sick leave pay that provides a minimum of five days a year starting Jan. 1, Labour Minister Harry Bains said Wednesday.

The new sick leave policy affects all workers covered by the province's Employment Standards Act, including part-time workers, he said.

"I firmly believe that no worker should have to choose to go to work sick or stay home and lose wages," said Bains. "But about half of the B.C. workforce does not have paid sick leave. The workers without coverage are usually the most vulnerable in our society, those in low-paying jobs, often women and racialized people."

The government says more than one million workers in B.C. don't have paid sick leave.

Bains said a government consultation period gathering feedback on sick leave options of three, five or 10 days generated 60,000 responses.

"We promised to listen to everyone's perspective and develop a fair and balanced regulation," said Bains. "Not surprising, some have called for three days or less while others have asked for 10 days or more. Five days is a sustainable solution based on the challenges faced by many sectors."

He said employer and employee data gathered during the survey from within and outside of Canada found the average amount of sick time workers used during a year amounted to 4.8 days.

In May, the province gave all workers up to three days of paid sick leave because of COVID-19 until Dec. 31.

Bains said the pandemic showed that when workers do not have paid sick leave, many end up going to work, which hurts co-workers and employers.

He said during a two-month period when pandemic cases surged, workplace outbreaks of COVID-19 led to the shutdowns of almost 200 businesses in the region covered by Fraser Health.

Surrey Board of Trade president Anita Huberman said her organization supports the five-day program because it protects employees and their employers.

"Your workforce is your most important asset," she said. "That's what the Surrey Board of Trade believes. Too many Canadians are going to work sick. Why, because they have no other choice."

 

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