In April 2021, the Ontario government introduced a paid sick leave program in the province in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
It currently provides three paid sick leave days per employee. Employers are required to provide employees with up to $200 of pay for each of the three days where the employee misses work because of COVID-19. As part of the program, employers may then apply to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board to obtain reimbursement for the expense.
Prior to the introduction of this program, employees were not entitled to any paid sick days. Currently, under the Employment Standards Act, employees who have been employed for at least two weeks are entitled to three unpaid days off of work for sick leave per calendar year for reasons of “personal illness, injury or medical emergency”. The employee who takes sick leave is required to give notice to the employer prior to taking the leave, or as soon as possible. The employer is entitled to ask for evidence that the employee is entitled to take the leave.
In October, a member of the NDP party had introduced Bill 8, the Stay At Home If You Are Sick Act, 2021 which proposed to replace the current provisions under the Employment Standards Act relating to sick leave, family responsibility leave and bereavement leave, with a new section that would entitle employees to 10 days of paid leave per year for personal emergency leave due to a personal illness, injury or medical emergency, death, illness of a listed family member or certain urgent matters. The Bill further proposed to amend the current provision on unpaid leave in situations related to declared emergencies and infectious disease emergencies to allow employees 14 paid days for the leave.
However, last week, the Bill was voted down.
Thus, as things stand, the three paid sick days in Ontario are set to end on December 31, 2021.
British Columbia To Introduce Five Paid Sick Days as of January 1, 2022
Currently in British Columbia, under the Employment Standards Act, employees who have been employed for at least 90 days are entitled to take up to three unpaid days off from work per calendar year for personal injury or illness leave.
However, last week, the government announced that it will introduce a new permanent policy that will come into effect on January 1, 2022, that will give all employees covered by the Employment Standards Act, including part-time workers, five paid days off for sick leave.
Canadian Government Announces 10 Paid Sick Days for Federal Employees
On November 26, 2021, the Federal government announced the introduction of Bill C-3 which proposes to amend the current provision on sick leave in the Canada Labour Code.
Under the current legislation, federal employees who have been employed for more than three months are entitled to take up to five days of absence for personal leave to, among other things, treat an illness or injury. The first three of the five days are paid. Employees are also entitled to take up to 17 weeks of unpaid medical leave. Employees may take this leave for personal illness or injury, organ or tissue donation, or for medical appointments during working hours. Employees are also entitled to take up to 16 weeks of unpaid medical leave as a result of quarantine.
However, under the proposed Bill, federally regulated employees would become entitled to 10 paid medical leave days per year. More specifically, the Bill would amend the Canada Labour Code to provide employees who have one month of employment with one paid day off for medical leave each month, to a maximum of 10 days per year.
It should be noted that while the Bill has received its first reading, it has not yet been introduced into law at the present time.
Saskatchewan Bill Proposes Sick Leave for Workers
Under current legislation, there is no sick leave in Saskatchewan.
However, the NDP recently introduced Bill 606, the Saskatchewan Employment (Paid Sick Days) Amendment Act, which proposes to entitle employees to 10 paid sick days each year and 14 paid sick days during the COVID-19 state of emergency.
As of publication, no vote has been held on the Bill.
Sick Leave in Other Jurisdictions
Below is a summary of sick leave entitlements under employment legislation in the remaining Canadian jurisdictions:
- Alberta: Under the Employment Standards Code, employees who have been employed for at least 90 days are entitled to up to 16 weeks off from work for an unpaid leave due to illness, injury or quarantine.
- Manitoba: Under The Employment Standards Code, employees who have been employed for at least 90 days and who are seriously injured or ill are entitled to take an unpaid leave of absence for up to 17 weeks per year.
- New Brunswick: Under the Employment Standards Act, employees who have been employed for more than 90 days are entitled to unpaid sick leave for up to five days per year.
- Newfoundland and Labrador: Under the Labour Standards Act, employees who have been employed for a continuous period of 30 days are entitled to up to seven days unpaid sick leave.
- Nova Scotia: Under the Labour Standards Act, employees are entitled to up to three days of unpaid leave, with no specified qualifying period, due to the sickness of a child, parent or family member, or for medical, dental or similar appointments during work hours.
- Prince Edward Island: Under the Employment Standards Act, an employee who has been employed for a continuous period of at least three months is entitled to up to three days of unpaid sick leave in a year. Also, an employee who has been employed for at least five years is entitled to one day of paid sick leave per year in addition to the five unpaid days.
- Quebec: Under the Act respecting labour standards, employees are entitled to up to 26 weeks unpaid, with no qualifying period, per year for all of the following reasons: sickness, organ or tissue donation for transplant, accident, domestic violence or sexual violence. In addition, an employee with three months of employment will be paid for the first two days of the leave.
- Northwest Territories: Under the Employment Standards Act, employees with 30 days of employment are entitled to 5 days unpaid sick leave per year.
- Nunavut: None specified.
- Yukon: Under the Employment Standards Act, employees are entitled to one unpaid day of sick leave for each month they have been employed, up to a maximum of 12 days per year.
Contact Bader Law for Experienced Advice on Employment Matters Including Sick Leave
At Bader Law, our knowledgeable employment lawyers can counsel you on your rights, advise you on your options, and help you create a plan for moving forward. We represent employees in Mississauga and areas west of Toronto. Contact us online or at (289) 652-9092 to learn how we can help.