BC Sick Days: What you need to know

On November 24, 2021, the British Columbia government announced that as of January 1, 2022, all employees who fall under the Employment Standards Act will be entitled to 5 employer-paid sick days per year. 

Which employees are eligible?
The paid sick leave provision applies to all employees covered by the Employment Standards Act, including part-time, temporary, and casual employees. An employee must have been with the employer for at least 90 days in order to be eligible for the paid sick leave. 

How much do employees get paid for the sick day?
You will need to pay your employees their regular wages for any sick days taken. To calculate an average day's pay, look at the 30 calendar days before the first day of the leave and divide the total wages by the number of days worked.

Total wages ÷ number of days worked = average day's pay

Do the sick days have to be taken consecutively?
No, the days do not need to be taken consecutively. Employees are entitled to 5 days total over the course of the year.

CFIB is working to clarify whether the 5 paid sick days must be taken first before the 3 unpaid days. We will update as information becomes available. 

How does an employer calculate a year?
The entitlement year starts on January 1 and runs for a calendar year. 

NOTE: Thanks to CFIB’s lobbying, government has closed the loophole that would have seen some employees entitled to 10 sick days in 2022. Government has also amended the language so that sick day entitlement is now based solely on calendar year and not employment year. 

Do the sick days roll over to the next year if they are not used in full?
There is no carryover of sick days. The five days are per employment year (calendar year for current employees). If unused, they disappear. 

Do outstanding sick days get paid out at the end of employment?
No, any unused sick days are not paid out, regardless of whether employment is ended by the employer or the employee. 

What if an employee is part-time, or only works 6 months of the year - is the entitlement pro-rated?
No, there is no pro-rating. All employees are entitled to 5 paid days per year.

What does the government define illness as?
The government is not defining illness. It will be up to the employer and employee to determine this at a local level. 

Does an employee have to provide a doctor's note?
The employer may request reasonable proof; however, the legislation is designed to be flexible. In some circumstances this may mean a doctor's note, in others a simple phone call from the employee indicating they are sick will be sufficient. 

What if an employee decides they need a mental health day? 
The five paid sick days are for illness or injury. Taking a rest day is not considered an injury or an illness; however, if an employee complains the employment standards board would have to do a determination on a case by case basis.

What about the 3 paid sick days for workers who miss work due to COVID-19?
The program providing for 3 paid sick days for workers who have been diagnosed with, or who await testing for, COVID-19 will end on December 31, 2021. 

Is there a provincial guidance document to help navigate this?
Yes. Information is available at the Employment Standards' Guide on Paid sick leave.

Will there be funding available from government to help offset this extra cost?
No, the government is not planning to provide financial help to businesses offset the extra cost caused by the paid sick days. 

CFIB will be advocating for the BC government to offset these additional costs. 

Read CFIB's statement on BC Employer-Paid Sick Days

Read CFIB’s report on employer paid sick days.