VICTORIA, B.C. – The Provincial government is looking for input on the development of a permanent paid sick leave program.

It is estimated that 50 per cent of B.C. workers do not have access to paid sick leave, meaning more than a million employees would benefit from this program, says the Province.

Amendments to the Employment Standards Act made in May 2021 created a foundation for creating minimum standards for permanent paid sick leave, says a release.

The May amendments created a temporary program for up to three days of paid leave for workers, and employers were reimbursed up to $200 per worker to help cover wages.

That temporary program ends December 31st, 2021.

“One of the most critical lessons from the pandemic was the importance of people staying home when they are sick, to contain the spread of an illness and keep workplaces productive,” said Minister of Labour, Harry Bains.

“But many workers, especially those in lower-paying jobs without benefits, simply can’t afford to lose wages by missing work due to illness or personal injury. That’s why we are creating a permanent paid sick leave entitlement, and we want to hear from the people who will be most affected.”

After the feedback gathering process, paid sick leave will go through regulation and take effect on January 1st, 2022.

There will be two phases of consultation.

In Phase 1 from August 5th to September 14th, surveys will collect information from employers and workers on the types of paid illness and injury supports currently in place, and how they are meeting the needs of workers.

Phase 2 from September 20th to October 5th, options will be laid out for different paid sick leave models for public feedback and input.

“No one should have to choose between going to work sick or losing wages. Paid sick leave is good for businesses, good for workers and good for our communities. By supporting people and businesses, we will help B.C.’s economy recover faster.”

Tom Conway, CEO of Small Business BC encourages all small businesses to participate in the consultation process.

“Providing paid sick leave benefits to all B.C. employees will be a significant change for many businesses, especially smaller operations. It’s important that government understands how it will affect businesses so the new requirements will be reasonable and practical.”

For more information on the current employment standards, click here.

Go to the B.C. Government website to participate in the consultation process.