BC’s Paid Sick Leave Program: Frequently Asked Questions

In November, the BC Government-mandated 5 days of paid sick leave per year starting January 1, 2022. This change happened after months of advocacy from UFCW 1518, union members, and the labour movement. To provide clarity about the paid sick leave program, we have collected responses to some of the recurring questions members have asked about BC’s Paid Sick Leave program.

FAQ

Q: Do the 5 paid sick days apply to casual and temporary employees or do they only apply to full-time employees?

The 5 paid sick days apply to all employees covered under the Employment Standards Act. This includes part-time, temporary or casual employees. However, the Employment Standards Act doesn’t cover certain types of employees, such as:

  • Federally-regulated sectors
  • Self-employed workers or independent contractors
  • Employees in professions and occupations excluded from the ESA

Q: If I’m new at work, do I get the 5 paid sick days?

Only employees who have worked for the employer for at least 90 days qualify.

Q: Can I use the 5 days for any type of illness?

Yes, you can use the 5 paid sick days for any type of illness.

Q: Do I need to take the 5 days consecutively?

No, you do not need to take the 5 days consecutively.

Q: What if my employer already offers 5 paid sick days, do I get 5 more days?

No. If your employer offers 5 days or more, then your employer already complies with BC’s Paid Sick Leave Program. Nevertheless, the 5 days of paid sick leave is a big win for workers who were not offered a paid sick leave before this mandate.

Q: If I don’t get sick for one year, can I carry over the 5 days to the following year?

No. Workers cannot carry the paid sick days year to year. They will expire annually if left unused.

Q: How will the 5 days of paid sick leave impact my collective agreement?

If you have specific questions about the paid sick leave program and how it relates to your collective agreement, please reach out to your union representative.

Q: What other government-mandated leaves should I know about?

Yes, under the Employment Standards Act, employees can take:

  • 3 days of unpaid sick leave
  • up to 5 days of unpaid family responsibility leave
  • up to 5 days of paid leave and 5 more days of unpaid leave per calendar year if they are impacted by domestic or sexual violence

For more information on leaves of absence under the BC employment standards, check out the BC Government website.