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Amendments to Paid Sick Leave

  • Bulletin; Health & Safety

Employment Standards Act amended to ensure all union members are included in provincial paid sick leave program

Effective March 31, 2022, a recent amendment to the Employment Standards Act to allow for five paid sick leave days to all working British Columbians will now recognize union members who had been otherwise excluded from this legislation.  

The labour movement and advocates successfully lobbied the provincial government for improvements to workers' rights with the January 1, 2022 amendment to the government's Employment Standards Act which provides five paid sick leave days (personal illness and injury) for all working British Columbians. Unfortunately, this legislation excluded some workers covered by collective agreements to the minimum entitlement.

BCNU was among other unions who raised concerns over this exclusion from government. As a result, the Employment Standards Act was again amended to eliminate union members exclusion effective March 31, 2022. This amendment ensures that no member will be excluded from the provincial paid sick leave program because of existing language in collective agreements. As a result, British Columbia is the first province in Canada to require employers to provide their employees with a minimum of five days of paid sick leave, and a minimum of three days of unpaid sick leave.

The legislation does define some limits (Part 6, Section 49.1 in the Act). Workers must have completed 90 consecutive days of employment with an employer to be entitled to the paid sick leave and payment will be based on the average of a day's pay. The rate of pay is calculated based on the last 30 workdays and excludes monies earned via overtime (OT).

Key points include:

  • Effective March 31, 2022, all workers are entitled to a minimum of five paid sick days (after being employed for 90 days) and three unpaid sick days.

  • Amount of pay has a specific calculation based on the legislation.

    •  It is an average calculated on the last 30 days of work, excluding OT.

  • Under this legislation employees are entitled to a full day off for sick leave; it does not allow for partial days.

  • Regardless of when a worker commences employment during the year, they are still entitled to five paid sick days and three unpaid sick days once they meet the 90-day qualification.

  • The sick days are allotted for each calendar year.

  • These days are not bankable and are not carried over year to year. They are re-started each January.

  • If you work at more than one employer, you are entitled to these paid sick days through each employer.

BCNU's position is that all our members have a right to paid sick days under the new legislation. It is our position that the employer should provide an automatic entitlement to all workers in addition to their earned and accrued benefits that have been negotiated into their collective agreements.

BCNU has received notice from the Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC) that they are advising employers that these new entitlements do not apply to regular employees but will apply to casual staff. HEABC has indicated it is their position that the collective agreement provisions meet or exceed the legislation and as regular staff already receive in excess of five days of entitlement per year, the new provisions would not apply.

If you are an impacted individual, please connect with your local steward to discuss filing a grievance. BCNU is in discussions with HEABC, and if we cannot resolve this issue, we will proceed with a policy dispute grievance on this matter on behalf of the members of our union.

This entitlement is not limited to those employees in the provincial collective agreement. All BCNU members have the right to this entitlement under the new legislation.

If you are not receiving access to sick day pay, your payment amount is incorrect, or you have any other questions about this new entitlement, please connect with your local steward. A current list of stewards is available on the BCNU Member Portal

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