Paid Sick Leave and Changes to BC Employment Standards Act for COVID-19 and Beyond

Updated May 11, 2021

The Government of BC has amended the Employment Standards Act to create a number of new leaves for employees during COVID-19, and will create new, permanent obligations:

New – 3 Paid Sick Days for All Employees (Until December 31, 2021)
The government is introducing a requirement that all employers provide employees with up to 3 paid days off for sickness related to COVID-19, including having symptoms, self-isolating and waiting for a test result.    More info. 

This is required for both full and part time workers.

Employers will be required to pay workers their regular wage for those days.

Employers who do not currently offer paid sick days can apply for reimbursement of the cost of up to $200 per day, per employee.  The reimbursement will be handled through a new application process administered by WorkSafeBC.   This process is not yet established.

New – Permanent Paid Sick Leave Obligation (Staring January 1, 2022)
The government will be mandating permanent, non-reimbursed paid sick days in 2022. The number of paid sick days employers will be required to provide will be determined through consultations with the business community.  The Burnaby Board of Trade will engage directly with government on this new employer obligation.

New – 3 Hours of Paid, Job-Protected Time Off for Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine
As of April 19, employers are required to provide both full-time and part-time employees up to 3 hours of paid, job-protected time off from their employment in order to get the COVID-19 vaccine themselves.  This is an obligation no matter how long the employee had been employed.  Employers can ask for proof of vaccination appointment time, but cannot ask for proof of receiving the vaccination. 

General COVID-19 Unpaid, Job-Protected Leave

In response to COVID-19, a new unpaid, job-protected leave has been established for employees unable to work for reasons relating to COVID-19. Employees can take this leave for as long as they need it without putting their job at risk. This means workers who are ill, need to self-isolate, need to care for their child or other dependent, or whose employer is concerned that the employee may expose others to risk, will be able to take leave without putting their job at risk.  This also provides for time off for employees to assist dependents to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations.

For information on how to handle leaves and absences, consult this Government of BC website