Victoria/Surrey (with files from Anita Huberman SBOT, Josh Olund BCIT Radio A&E) – On Tuesday, Labour Minister Harry Bains tabled legislation that would provide workers with a paid sick leave program that will support them to stay home when they are sick during and after the pandemic, including permanent paid sick leave. The legislation is brought through an amendment to the Employment Standards Act.
Under the new legislation, workers will be covered if they happen to have any symptoms of COVID-19, are self-isolating, and are waiting for tests. The amendments to the Employment Standards Act also mean employers will be required to pay the workers their full wages.The province says it will reimburse employers who don’t have an existing sick leave program up to $200 a day for each worker. WorkSafeBC will be in charge of administrating these reimbursements on behalf of the province.
That program is set to begin on Jan. 1, 2022. Details about the plan are set to be finalized after consultations with stakeholders.This is coming weeks after Victoria learned the federal government wouldn’t be expanding its own COVID-19 sick pay program.
Anita Huberman , the executive Director for the Surrey Board of Trade issued a response:
“The Surrey Board of Trade is pleased with this tabled legislation, which will provide much needed support for businesses that have been the hardest hit as a result of shutdowns and economic downturn,” said Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade. “Businesses in the hardest hit industries will finally get the support that they need. Paid sick leave is about reducing transmission and getting on the other side of this pandemic.””
Highlights of the amendments include:
1. Three days of paid sick leave related to COVID-19, such as having symptoms, self-isolating and waiting for test results
2. Employers will be required to pay workers their full wages
3. The Province will reimburse employers without an existing sick leave program up to $200 per day for each worker
4. The short-term paid sick leave related to COVID-19 will bridge the gap for workers between when they first feel sick and when they can access the Federal Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit
5. BC’s COVID-19 paid sick leave will continue to protect workers to December 31, 2021
“We must ensure that the process for businesses to receive financial support is not administratively burdensome and we want businesses to receive reimbursement in a timely way. Some businesses are in such a precarious position that if a business must wait for weeks or months until they receive the reimbursement, they are at risk of shutting down before receiving the payment.”
Consultations on permanent paid sick leave protection will be occurring next month through WorkSafeBC.
Surrey Board of Trade Letter to Minister Bains: https://businessinsurrey.com/2021/05/surrey-board-of-trade-calls-for-action-on-temporary-paid-sick-leave-program-for-bc/
BC Government Announcement on Paid Sick Leave: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021PREM0033-000887