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No Timeline Yet for B.C. Paid Sick Leave Legislation

Victoria/Fraser Valley (Josh Olund BCIT Radio A&E) – The province says it’s working on legislation to adopt paid sick leave, but there’s currently no timeline as to when it will be introduced.

Back in December, Premier John Horgan said that his government was prepared to fill in the gaps in the federal sick leave program, stating that no worker should be denied pay when they are preventing the spread of COVID-19 by staying home when unwell. He said the province was still waiting on more information on what could be lacking in Ottawa’s plan.

Since then, there’s been pressure building to have the province follow through and legislate paid sick days for everyone. However, there was no mention of funding for paid sick leave in the provincial or federal budgets last week.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry was asked about this topic at Monday’s COVID-19 update.“It is an important part of the workplace program to make sure that workers are able to stay home when they’re sick and that’s an ongoing discussion that I know government is having with industry,” she said.

Health Minister Adrian Dix added that the province is working on it and has passed other measures to protect workers, using legislation introduced last week guaranteeing paid time off to get vaccinated as an example.

The amendments to the Employment Standards Act that,if passed, would give workers up to three hours of paid sick leave to get each dose of their COVID-19 vaccine. Labour Minister Harry Bains says this change means that people can be immunized without worrying it might take an economic toll.

The federal Recovery Sickness Benefit (RSB) was brought in last November to encourage workers to stay home if they are sick instead of feeling they need to go to work in order to get paid.

The benefit is $450 per week, after taxes, for up to four weeks, but workers must forego wages and then apply to the government to be reimbursed.However, employers are still responsible for sick leave pay, because employment laws around sick leave fall under provincial jurisdiction.

While many businesses offer paid sick days, many others don’t.

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