The BC Government recently announced that effective January 1, 2022, employees covered by the Employment Standards Act are entitled to receive 5 paid sick days per employment year. This is in addition to the 3 unpaid sick days which were previously available.

What employees are eligible?

Any employee who has been employed for 90 consecutive days, is eligible to receive the sick leave pay.

This includes full-time, part-time, temporary, and casual workers.

How much is the sick leave pay?

The amount paid for 1 sick day is equal to an employee’s “average day’s pay”.

The calculation for an average day’s pay is based on the 30 calendar days prior to the sick day and is as follows:

Total wages / number of days worked = average day’s pay

Note that total wages:

DO include any vacation paid during the 30-day period

DO NOT include any overtime wages paid during the 30-day period

What is meant by “employment year”?

Entitlement is based on an employee’s employment year, which is from the employee’s start date.

Example: An employee hired on June 1, 2021, will have an employment year ending May 31, 2022. Meaning their entitlement for 5 days renews every June 1st.

Note for 2022: all employees employed for greater than 90 consecutive days will be entitled to their 5 days as of January 1, 2022, and their entitlement renews on their hire date anniversary.

Example: An employee hired on June 1, 2021 will have 5 days as of January 1, 2022 to be used by May 31, 2022. Their entitlement of 5 days renews June 1, 2022 and ends May 31, 2023.

Can the employer require proof of illness?

Yes. The employer can request “reasonable proof” which must be provided by the employee “as soon as practicable”.

The legislation is not specific, and further specifies that reasonable and sufficient proof may depend on the circumstances, including:

  • Length of absence
  • Establishment of patterns
  • Availability of proof
  • Types of proof and costs associated

Additional points to note:

  • The days do not need to be taken consecutively
  • The days to not carryover to the next entitlement year if not used
  • The days do not get paid out if not used
  • There is no pro-rating of days for part-time or casual workers
  • There are no partial sick days

In summary:

After 90 days of employment, an employer must provide up to 5 days of paid sick leave to its employees. The pay is equal to an average day’s pay.

For additional information or to read the full legislation, you can visit the Province of British Columbia’s website or follow these links.

Paid sick leave

Illness or Injury Leave – Act Part 6, Section 49.1

Written by:  Laura Kristian, CPA

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