Government Mandated Sick Days

Shawnee Love   •   January 11, 2022

January 1, 2022, BC’s government introduced 5 paid days plus 3 unpaid days after an employee has completed 90 days of employment (i.e., the probationary period).

Paid sick days are based on an average day’s wages of the last month of work. Here are a few examples, so you can see how it will unfold:

  1. Full time example: Someone working 8 hours per day and five days per week will get 5 paid days of 8 hours each, even if the person works a bit of overtime from time to time. They will also get an additional 3 days of sick time without pay. (You can always offer more paid time off. This is just the minimum).
  2. Part time example: Someone working 6 hours a day four days per week, will get five sick days of 6 hours each.
  3. Casual example: Sick days only apply if someone is scheduled for work, e.g., my son works at McDonalds and is casual but is scheduled for work a week in advance. If they randomly call him in and he can’t make it because he is sick, no pay would apply. But if he cannot make a scheduled shift due to illness, even he would be eligible for sick pay based on the shift he was scheduled for and the calculation of an average day’s pay.
  4. Averaging agreement example: Someone working four days per week in 10 hour shifts is going to get 10 hours of sick pay for each day away as averaging agreements are unique. In that situation, the person on an averaging agreement will get 50 hours of sick time in a year.

When calculating an average day’s pay, include wages/ salary, commission, stat holiday pay and paid vacation. Overtime is excluded however, so if someone works a lot of OT and then takes a sick day, you would pay for a normal workday without OT.

Important Notes:

These 5 paid and 3 unpaid sick days are:

  • Applicable to employers which are non-unionized and have employees regulated under BC’s Employment Standards Act.
  • Granted and not accrued. I.e., Once a person completes probation, they are eligible for these days in full (i.e., no proration) and the amount will reset each year. The government requires the employment year being the timeline used; however, that is a nightmare for many to track. Alternatives may include offering more paid days, so the calendar year reset is possible. For employers who have minimal concerns with sick, I am suggesting calendar leave might not be problematic after the first year. In this case, you could give 5 paid sick in the first calendar year of employment, and then use calendar years going forward with eligible employees resetting each January 1st. I am going out on a bit of a limb here because no judgements have been made yet, but it seems like this would also keep an employee whole and still allow tracking by calendar year.
  • For regularly scheduled employees. People not scheduled, i.e., those who get called in when someone else is sick or away, are apparently not eligible for sick days.

Keep in mind, all of this is a work in progress and has yet to be challenged by complaints or cases. I feel sorry for our poor clean up crews at Employment Standards who are forced to build guidelines around half baked laws.

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