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BC Paid Sick Leave - April 2022 Update to New Sick Leave

June 29, 2022

Employment Law & Employment Standards Act

BC Paid Sick Leave - April 2022 Update to New Sick Leave

As an update to our earlier article “BC Paid Sick Leave – What Employers Should know”, the Minister of Labour, Harry Bains introduced Bill 19 – Employment Standards Amendment Act, 2022 (the “Bill”) amending the sick leave provisions in the BC Employment Standards Act (“Act”). The Bill addressed two issues that have been raised since the introduction of the five days of employer-paid sick leave:

  1. Replaces "employment year” with “calendar year” when assessing an employee’s annual paid sick leave entitlement; and
  2. Ensures that employees under collective agreements are not excluded from the employer-paid sick leave.

The Bill received the Royal Assent on March 31, 2022 and the amendments are now in effect.

We will include some information on these amendments below, and also include some important FAQs we have seen from clients to date.

Calendar Year Instead of Employment Year

Employees are now entitled to five paid days of sick leave per calendar year. This change was brought about for ease of implementation. Establishing an employee’s annual paid sick leave entitlement based on employment year was cumbersome because it required a separate date for each employee based on the start date of their employment. With the use of the calendar year, the annual entitlement period is standardized for all employees regardless of the start of their employment.

Unionized Workplaces

Employees who were previously excluded from the full five paid sick days due to existing language in collective agreements are now included and entitled to the paid sick days.

Other factors such as the total number of paid sick leave days per year and the eligibility remain unchanged.

The full Bill is available here.

Frequently Asked Questions from Employers

Partial Sick Days and Sick Pay

Q&A #1:

Different people have different shift lengths, does that matter for days where employees are sick? For example, let's say one employee has a 5 hour shift, another has 8, another has 10, another has 12.  Are they all entitled to the same 5 days at 8 hours for a total of 40 hours of paid sick time?

The length of shift actually does come into play because you have to calculate an average day’s pay over the past 30 calendar days (excluding overtime) for the individual employee to determine the amount to pay they are owed for each claimed sick day. The average day’s pay is determined by the following formula:

  • Average Day’s Pay = Amount Paid ÷ Days Worked
  • Where:
  • Amount Paid = the amount paid or payable to the employee for work that is done during and wages that are earned within the 30 calendar day period preceding the leave, including vacation pay that is paid or payable for any days of vacation taken within that period, less any amounts paid or payable for overtime
  • Days Worked = is the number of days the employee worked or earned wages within that 30 calendar day period

Q&A #2:

Similarly, for hourly staff can they take sick time in part hours per day?  Example, an employee works 4 hours of an 8 hour day and then takes 4 hours of sick time (leaves sick halfway through the day).

On this second question, the Employment Standards Branch’s current Policy Interpretation is that there are no partial sick days. Therefore, if someone takes a sick day, they are paid the entire average day’s pay for that day, regardless of whether they take the entire day off or just a partial day. You can read more on this here if you scroll down to “Partial sick days”.

 

And yes, this in our view creates the absurd situation that an employee can work 7 hours and go home sick for the last hour, then claim the entire paid sick day plus 7 hours pay for the time worked. I note this is currently under review as various employer groups are lobbying the government to change this.

Our employment and labour lawyers are heavily involved in various local BC Chambers and Policy Committees, attend roundtable discussions and present webinars regularly on the Employment Standards Act and related legislation. We communicate all these updates to our clients and readers on our Employer Resources Portal and through monthly Newsletters. If you have any questions or need assistance revising your employment contracts or policies, please reach out to Chris Drinovz at cdrinovz@kswlawyers.ca, or submit a Contact form.

Author

CHRIS DRINOVZ

Partner

Chris D. Drinovz is an experienced employment and labour lawyer and the head of the Employment & Labour Group at KSW Lawyers. He was born and raised in Surrey and has practiced law exclusively in the Fraser Valley since 2010. Chris’ expertise covers all facets of the workplace including wrongful dismissal, severance opinions, human rights, discrimination/harassment, employment standards, employment contracts and workplace policies, dismissal planning, employee investigations, pension & benefits, disability and other insurance claims, employment insurance...

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