Monday is the last chance for British Columbia residents to weigh in on proposals for paid sick leave for workers in the province.
BC passed legislation that will implement employer-paid sick leave effective January 1, 2022, but how many days will be covered has yet to be determined.
The province is now seeking public comment on whether the requirement should cover three, five or 10 days of leave.
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With just one day for people to comment, the British Columbia Federation of Labor is heavily promoting the 10-day option, arguing that other OECD countries like Australia, New Zealand and Sweden meet that bar or more.
President Laird Cronk said the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw several business closures involving employees heading to work sick in workplaces ranging from meat processing to manufacturing to restaurants, showed the need for solid coverage.
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“What we know for sure is that people went to work sick during the pandemic … we have seen it in several places, because they did not have the means to stay at home, they were so worried about paying the bills, paying the rent and They did not have paid sick leave, so they made the untenable decision to go to work, ”he said.
“What we do know is that other people got sick, other people took it to their families, their communities, and in the age of COVID, that can have tragic results.”
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While the maximum proposition is attractive to the workforce, business groups have raised concerns about the affordability of such a program for employers.
A survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business found that 64 percent of members did not support the proposal, with more than eight in 10 citing costs.
He said nearly half of businesses have yet to return to pre-COVID revenue, but noted that more than six in 10 members supported the idea of sick leave if it was fully funded by the government.
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“They have record debt figures, we are talking over $ 129,000 and the recovery is not quite there, there is a lot of uncertainty,” said Seth Scott, CFIB senior policy analyst for BC and Northern Canada.
“Companies are very concerned about this. they can’t afford another cost right now … clearly, companies don’t feel as good about both the short-term and long-term economic prospects. “
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The CFIB argues that if the government intends to implement the sick days policy, it should also be responsible for funding it.
Cronk said he understood companies’ concerns, but argued that offering workers paid sick leave would actually be a net economic benefit from an employer’s perspective.
“What we have to do is make sure that workers don’t go to work sick,” he said.
“The cost to companies of workers coming to work sick in the COVID era is really difficult, you can close your business for up to 10 days, that can be the end of your business.”
The province plans to formalize the new paid sick leave model at the end of November and have it in place by the new year.
The public has until Monday to participate in a survey on the options proposed here.
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