Prince Rupert and B.C. workers are now entitled to five days of paid sick leave per year, effective Jan. 1.
All employees covered by the Employment Standards Act (ESA), whether they are full-time, part-time, temporary or casual workers, are eligible for the benefit so long as they have worked at the organization for the past 90 days.
Employers must pay their employees’ regular wages for these days and may ask for reasonable proof of illness.
“Until now, about half of B.C. workers have been unable to stay home when sick without losing wages,” Harry Bains, Minister of Labour, said on Dec. 30. “Many of those are lower-paid workers who can least afford to lose the money and, as a result, end up going to work sick. Paid sick leave is the right thing to do, and it is now in British Columbia permanently.”
This new guarantee is in addition to the three days of unpaid sick leave provided by the ESA.
However, the ESA does not cover some types of employees including those in federally-regulated sectors, self-employed workers, independent contractors and employees or professions excluded from the ESA. For a full list of ESA exceptions click here.
The new program replaces the temporary COVID-19 paid sick leave program, which included up to three days of paid leave and included employer reimbursements. Employers have until Jan. 17 to submit any remaining requests for reimbursement through the temporary program.
Before Jan. 1, more than one million workers in the province did not have access to paid sick leave, with most those in low-wage jobs often being women or racialized workers, the Ministry of Labour stated.
Norman Galimski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View