The BC Chamber of Commerce is looking to gauge the impact of permanent paid sick leave on businesses in the province, and has launched a survey to collect input.
An estimated 50% of British Columbians do not have access to paid sick leave, according to the province, and residents will be entitled to five days of paid sick leave each year starting in January.
Labour Minister Harry Bains announced the plans Nov. 24 after the province instituted three days of paid sick leave to British Columbians in May because of COVID-19, but only on a temporary basis.
“Five days is a sustainable solution given the challenges faced by many sectors,” Bains said, adding businesses will benefit from increased productivity and higher rates of retention. “I want to make it clear that this is not optional, this is the law.”
The temporary program, which provides employers with a maximum $200 reimbursement, is set to expire Dec. 31. No reimbursements will be offered to businesses under the permanent program.
Fiona Famulak, president of the BC Chamber, said the concern with permanent paid sick leave is that it will create additional financial challenges for small businesses at a time when they are trying to recover from the pandemic.
"Unlike the temporary paid sick days program, the cost for permanent paid sick leave will be born solely by employers," she said in a statement. "We have called, and continue to call, on the B.C. government to find ways to reduce costs for B.C. businesses."
The Opposition B.C. Liberals said the New Democrats are downloading the costs of sick leave onto employers, while the Green party said the government should match countries with leave provisions of 10 days or more.
Click here to take the survey. It will take about two minutes to complete, and will close on Dec. 14 at 4 p.m. PST.
— with files from Business in Vancouver, Canadian Press
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