On May 11, 2021, the BC government introduced changes to the Employment Standards Act to require employers to provide 3 days of paid sick leave related to COVID-19. The proposed legislation also creates an annual permanent paid sick leave entitlement commencing January 1, 2022, for any personal illness or injury for employees who have worked a minimum of 90 consecutive days. The number of paid sick days under this permanent program will later be set out in regulations.
The temporary COVID-19 paid sick leave, which is available to both full-time and part-time employees, will end on December 31, 2021. The temporary sick leave provides that an employee who is on COVID-19-related leave will be entitled to paid leave of up to 3 days. COVID-19-related leave will include having been diagnosed with COVID-19, being in quarantine or self-isolation, or having been directed by the employer not to work due to the employer’s concern about the employee’s possible exposure to the virus. Employers can apply through WorkSafeBC for reimbursement of up to a maximum of $200 per day.
Although not set out in the legislation, the government backgrounder provides that an employer could request from the employee reasonably sufficient proof, but not a medical note. This is similar to requests for information with respect to unpaid COVID-19-related leave.
The proposed legislation was expected, and is similar to paid sick leave in place federally and in Ontario. The legislation is expected to pass and be in force in short order.
Please contact a member of our Labour and Employment Group if you have any questions regarding the above.