Workers in B.C. to get 5 paid sick days a year | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Workers in B.C. to get 5 paid sick days a year

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British Columbians will receive a minimum of five paid sick days each year, beginning Jan. 1, 2022.

All workers covered by the Employment Standards Act, including part-time workers are eligible to receive pay.

"Beginning in the new year, workers will no longer lose pay for making the responsible choice of taking a sick day," Premier John Horgan said in a Ministry of Labour press release issued today, Nov. 24. "The pandemic has highlighted that when workers don't have paid sick leave, it's bad for them, it's bad for their co-workers and it's bad for their employers.”

Due to COVID-19 workplace outbreaks, around 200 businesses were shut down in the Fraser Health region.

Workplaces with pre-existing paid sick leave policies saw less workplace transmission, the ministry said.

After consultation with B.C. workers and employers, three, five or 10 days of paid sick leave will come into effect next year, with more than 60,000 people expected to participate in the program.

Feedback from the workplaces that already provide paid sick leave found that most workers take between zero and five days of sick leave each year.

"Many of the people who lack paid sick leave are the same workers we depended on most during the pandemic," said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour, in the release. "Lower-wage workers who help us get our groceries, prepare our food at restaurants, and make sure we have the services we need deserve a basic protection like paid sick leave."

Bains said implementing the program will build a resilient workforce in B.C.

"We have learned in this pandemic how important it is for workers to be able to stay home if they are sick. Paid sick leave is one more way we can support workers and help prevent the transmission of disease," said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, in the release. "It gives people the means to stay away from work if they're sick and reduces the risk to their co-workers or others they come in contact with through their jobs."

Before the Wednesday announcement, the province looked to other jurisdictions with paid sick leaves, such as Australia, New Zealand and European countries.

Workplaces with additional benefits saw increased productivity, retention of staff, reduced risk or injury, improved morale and increased labour-force participation.

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