sick leave entitlements bc

Changes to Sick Leave Entitlements for Employees

Today, Vancouver lawyers Rachel Rabinovitch and Jessica Spraggs discuss recent changes to sick leave entitlements for employees in British Columbia.

The government of British Columbia recently announced changes to sick leave entitlements for employees. 

Beginning on January 1, 2022, employees that are covered by the Employment Standards Act and that have been employed for 90 days will be entitled to five paid sick days from their employer. The cost of the paid days is to be borne by the employer.

Here is What You Need to Know About the Changes to Sick Leave Entitlements For Employees:

  • Who does this apply to? 
    • These rules are only for employees that are regulated by the Employment Standards Act. If the workplace is covered by the federal government, and therefore the Canada Labour Code, these rules don’t apply.  Examples of some workplaces covered by federal regulation are railways, telecommunications companies and banks.
  • How is the sick pay calculated? 
    • The amended legislation includes a formula for calculating the pay that an employee is entitled to for each sick day. It works out to calculating the employees daily earnings over the 30 days prior to the sick day, including vacation pay for vacation days taken and excluding any overtime pay. Then, that amount is divided by the days worked.
  • What can the sick days be used for?
    • The Employment Standards Act says that the sick time can be taken for “personal illness and injury”. This means that the time off needs to be for the employee themselves and not, for example, family members. (There are other leaves that are applicable to sick family members.) 
  • What needs to be updated?
    • Employment contracts should be reviewed to confirm that sick leave allowance is accurate for this new language. Employee handbooks and policies should also be updated to reflect how sick time is requested and tracked, if it isn’t already specified.
  • How to track?
    • Well-built spreadsheets can be helpful tools for small organizations, but if tracking working hours and various leaves (vacation, sick, appointments, etc.) is becoming cumbersome, consider adopting an HR system to help. We can also make recommendations based on your organization’s size and help with implementation.

Best Practices for the New Sick Leave Entitlements in BC

Here is how we would advise approaching these new sick leave entitlements:

  • Use this new entitlement as a win for your organization: Be supportive of the change to promote employee wellness. This will have the most positive impact on your organization’s culture and ultimately help your bottom line. Avoid scrutinizing employees’ requests or making it challenging for employees to use this new entitlement, instead – be supportive of their use of the time, recovery, and mental health concerns. If issues arise with misuse of the new leave, there are other methods to use to investigate and determine the next steps. 
  • Remember: Healthy and engaged employees are productive employees. This change to sick leave entitlements will work to encourage that. 

Need help? Contact Our Team at Spraggs Law

Spraggs Law can help with writing policies, creating hybrid work models, or managing employee expectations and difficult conversations with Human Resources Consulting and Employment Law Expertise.

Do you need help with a legal issue? Spraggs Law can help. Give us a call at 604-359-1627 for a free consultation to discuss how we can offer personalized assistance based on your circumstances.

Please note: This article does not contain legal advice. If you would like advice on your specific situation, please contact Spraggs Law.