The B.C. Federation of Labour is calling on the province to offer more paid sick days to eligible workers amid a surge in respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19, influenza and RSV.
At the start of the year, legislation went into effect giving a minimum of five days of paid sick leave a year to workers covered by the Employment Standards Act (ESA) and who have been on the job for more than 90 days.
Federation president Sussanne Skidmore says members recently passed a resolution at a convention calling for 15 days of sick leave.
"We're hearing from workers that they need more and we heard that at our convention loud and clear," Skidmore told CBC's The Early Edition on Friday.
The resolution also called for more education and supports around destigmatizing sick leave and getting rid of the restriction regarding the first 90 days of employment.
"We know that the flu and COVID and any sickness doesn't wait 90 days from when you started your job," Skidmore said.
B.C.'s paid sick leave legislation, which went into effect on Jan. 1, applies to all workers, including part-time employees, covered by the ESA. The act, however, does not cover federally regulated sectors, self-employed workers, and employees in professions and occupations excluded from the ESA.
Just over a week ago the federal government passed a bill giving federally regulated workers 10 days of paid sick leave.
WATCH | Canada's labour minister announces 10 paid sick days for federal workers:
In a statement, B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains says respiratory illnesses highlight the importance of workers to be able to stay home if they are ill.
B.C. is the only province to legislate five days of paid sick leave, he added.
"After broad consultation with workers, employers, health experts and other stakeholders, we heard that five days was a fair and balanced way forward for our province," Bains said.
"Paid sick leave is an important way we can support workers and help prevent the transmission of disease."