VICTORIA, B.C. – B.C. employers will be required to give workers a minimum of five paid sick days a year starting Saturday.

The Ministry of Labour sent out a reminder Thursday, stating employees who have worked at an organization for at least 90 days will be entitled to the new sick leave policy.

“Until now, about half of B.C. workers have been unable to stay home when sick without losing wages,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “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.”

All workers covered by the Province’s Employment Standards Act, including part-time workers, will benefit from the change. More than one million workers in B.C. don’t have paid sick leave, mostly those in low-wage jobs who are often women or racialized workers, according to the ministry.

“Experiences in other jurisdictions that have mandated paid sick leave have shown cost increases for most companies were less than expected. They also experienced significant benefits, including increased productivity and retention of trained staff, reduced risks of injury, improved morale and increased labour force participation,” said a release.

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

With files from the Canadian Press