On November 24, 2021, the British Columbia government announced that as of January 1, 2022, all employees who fall under the Employment Standards Act will be entitled to 5 employer-paid sick days per year.
Which employees are eligible?
The paid sick leave provision applies to all employees covered by the Employment Standards Act, including part-time, temporary, and casual employees. An employee must have been with the employer for at least 90 days in order to be eligible for the paid sick leave.
How much do employees get paid for the sick day?
You will need to pay your employees their regular wages for any sick days taken. To calculate an average day’s pay, look at the 30 calendar days before the first day of the leave and divide the total wages by the number of days worked.
Total wages ÷ number of days worked = average day’s pay
Do the sick days have to be taken consecutively?
No, the days do not need to be taken consecutively. Employees are entitled to 5 days total over the course of the year.
How does an employer calculate a year?
For current employees, the entitlement year starts on January 1, 2022 and runs for a calendar year. For employees hired during the year, their entitlement year will start on their first day of work.
Note: for 2022, employees will be entitled to 5 sick days as of January 1, 2022, and their entitlement will renew on their work anniversary. So, an employee who was hired on April 17, 2020, will be entitled to 5 days from January 1 to April 17, 2022, and then a further 5 days from April 18, 2022, to April 17, 2023.
Do the sick days roll over to the next year if they are not used in full?
There is no carryover of sick days. The five days are per employment year (calendar year for current employees). If unused, they disappear.
Do outstanding sick days get paid out at the end of employment?
No, any unused sick days are not paid out, regardless of whether employment is ended by the employer or the employee.
What if an employee is part-time, or only works 6 months of the year – is the entitlement pro-rated?
No, there is no pro-rating. All employees are entitled to 5 paid days per year.
What does the government define illness as?
The government is not defining illness. It will be up to the employer and employee to determine this at a local level.
Does an employee have to provide a doctor’s note?
The employer may request reasonable proof; however, the legislation is designed to be flexible. In some circumstances this may mean a doctor’s note, in others a simple phone call from the employee indicating they are sick will be sufficient.
What if an employee decides they need a mental health day?
The five paid sick days are for illness or injury. Taking a rest day is not considered an injury or an illness; however, if an employee complains the employment standards board would have to do a determination on a case by case basis.
What about the 3 paid sick days for workers who miss work due to COVID-19?
The program providing for 3 paid sick days for workers who have been diagnosed with, or who await testing for, COVID-19 will end on December 31, 2021.
Is there a provincial guidance document to help navigate this?
Yes. Information is available at the Employment Standards’ Guide on Paid sick leave.