Greater Vernon Chamber Seeks Changes to Employer-Paid Sick Days

March 24, 2023



VERNON – The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce is calling on the provincial government to amend employer-paid sick leave so it is more efficient and transparent.

The Chamber recently surveyed its members on the impact of five days of employer-paid sick leave, which came into force Jan. 1, 2022.

“Employers want to do what is best for their employees, especially when they are ill. However, it was clear during the survey that paid sick leave has created challenges for private sector and non-profit employers when it comes to staffing levels and costs,” said Dan Proulx, Greater Vernon Chamber general manager.

“It’s also evident that there is a lack of clarity around sick days and when they are available, and that, unfortunately, has led to some misunderstanding and, in some cases, abuse.”

Many of the survey respondents indicated that some employees are treating paid sick days as holidays and even trying to bank them for time off. Among the comments from members were:

“Employee wants an extra-long weekend, takes a government sick day. Unenthusiastic about tomorrow’s task, takes a government sick day.”

“We have casual employees who only work a few days a month. Now if they can’t get someone to cover their shift, they just call in sick and we end up paying the employee to be off, and also the employee who gets called in to cover. This often results in overtime.”

Survey respondents stated that sick day requests from employees have increased since Jan. 1, 2022.

Respondents also believe they are unable to ask an employee about their reason for taking a sick day. “We have no recourse. They call in sick, they expect to be paid. It’s conveniently been Fridays and Mondays,” stated a member.

The Chamber will be reaching out to Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu and asking for the following amendments to employer-paid sick leave:

  • That some form of verification of illness be identified, such as a physicians’ note;
  • That employer-paid sick leave be pro-rated for part-time or casual staff;
  • That employers be compensated for paid sick leave, potentially through WorkSafeBC

The Chamber also continues to make the following requests of Labour Minister Harry Bains, which were first presented in a Dec. 8, 2022 letter:

  •  That the government review and report on how many sick days have been taken by B.C. employees since the five-day policy was initiated and the cost to employers;
  • That the government consult with business organizations on their experiences with the sick leave program and if the current process can be streamlined further;
  • That the government consult with business organizations prior to any potential changes being made to paid sick leave, including the maximum number of days.

Dan Proulx is the General Manager of the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce

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