September 8, 2021
Honourable Harry Bains
Minister of Labour
West Annex Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4
RE: Paid Sick Leave
Dear Minister Bains,
I'm writing as a follow up to our many conversations about paid sick leave, including the broad-based lobbying effort undertaken by Unifor members this spring.
As we’ve noted before, nearly two-thirds of British Columbians do not have paid sick leave benefits. Among low-paid workers, that figure rises even higher. On average, women have less access to paid sick leave.
The current statutory minimum of three temporary paid sick days is sorely inadequate to stop the spread of contagious diseases in the workplace.
Unifor recommends increasing the legal minimum to ten employer-paid sick days and an additional fourteen paid sick days in the case of a public health emergency.
British Columbia’s paid sick day program must be:
- Universal (e.g. apply equally, to all workers, regardless of status)
- Fair (e.g. requiring no doctor's notes)
- Flexible (e.g. not specific to personal/physical illness, but personal emergencies, mental health)
- Fully-paid (e.g. no partial-measures, and paid by employers)
- Non-discriminatory (e.g. no employer reprisals on workers who use paid sick days)
Paid sick days must also be treated as “emergency days” and cover personal illness and injury, as well as family emergencies.
COVID-19 has exposed major gaps in B.C.’s public health policy and employment standards. Your government has made important progress in protecting workers and reducing the impact of COVID on vulnerable British Columbians but there is more work to be done and there is no time to waste. Lives are still on the line.
We look forward to continuing to work with you to keep workers safe and build back better.
Unifor Western Regional Director