Burnaby Board of Trade Recommends Against Paid Sick Leave for January, Makes Suggestions for Improvements
October 24, 2021 – The provincial government is looking to bring in a new requirement that all employers offer paid sick leave to employees. The cost of such a plan has been estimated at costing businesses $670 to $1.2 billion annually, depending on how the government implements this mandate.
To ensure our members had a chance to shape this policy, the BBOT consulted members directly, launched a member-based working group, and conducted a membership-wide survey on this issue. Based on this consultation, the BBOT has made a formal submission to the Ministry of Labour, and has spoken directly with the Minister and Assistant Deputy Minister on this issue to recommend against implementing paid sick leave in January, and to suggest ways to mitigate the potential impacts of any such policy.
While we understand the need to ensure workers can protect their health, given the economic challenges facing businesses during the pandemic, the potential undermining of the employer-employee relationship, and the broad, permanent nature of this potential policy , the Burnaby Board of Trade cannot endorse this proposal at this time.
We must remember that businesses have had to endure nearly two years of unrelenting turbulence due to the pandemic. Health mitigation measures have meant businesses have had to spend thousands of dollars on PPE for staff and customers, physical alterations to their offices or stores, and remote-working equipment and software for their staff. Disruptions to international supply chains have caused shipping delays and dramatic increases in costs to businesses. Labour shortages have made it difficult to find workers and government policy around the minimum wage coupled with genuine market forces have pushed salaries and labour costs to unseen levels. Against this backdrop, businesses cannot bear a new, permanent, obligation such as paid sick leave this January.
If a paid sick leave policy is enacted anyways, the BBOT has submitted several recommendations to limit the worst impacts on businesses, including:
- Of the three options available (3-days, 5-days, 10-days) choose the 3-day model to make the mandate as narrow in scope as possible
- Limit the inclusion of casual and part-time employees in any paid sick leave model
- If part-time employees are included, ensure criteria is created that:
- 1) Requires the employee to have worked a significant number of hours in the time preceeding a sick day, and
- 2) Requires sick days to only be paid if a part-time employee actually had a pre-scheduled shift that day
- Limit or offset the costs on businesses by
- Decreasing taxes elsewhere, such as the Employer Health Tax or the provincial portion of commercial property taxes
- Not requiring unused paid sick days to be carried over into future years, or paid out at any time
- Providing requiring paid sick days to offer a percentage of the employee wage, similar to the EI model
- Funding paid sick leave requirements through existing programs such as WorkSafeBC or EI
Read our full submission to Labour Minister Harry Bains here: