How to manage sickness in the workplace in BC 

The spread of sickness in the workplace is an unfortunate reality that any business that operates within an office must deal with. And the negative effects this has on a workplace are plain to see, such as a reduction in productivity and staff shortages.  

Especially through peak periods of sickness (e.g. flu season), it’s essential that your business makes a concerted effort to curb the spread of sickness in your workplace.  

While sickness in the workplace is not entirely avoidable, well-developed policies aimed at reducing the spread and ensuring your employees receive sick leave entitlements can help reduce its negative effects.  

This should include:  

  • Outlined processes to follow when an employee falls ill.  
  • A sick leave policy.  
  • A commitment to providing employees with their sick day/pay leave entitlements. 

And when granting entitlements, remember to ensure you act in accordance with British Columbia’s Employment Standards Act (ESA).  

Curb sickness in the workplace with proper processes  

As an employer, there are things that you can do and processes that you can put in place to ensure you reduce the spread of sickness in your workplace.  

Such as: 

  • Ask that employees stay home if they are feeling ill.  
  • Suggest proper handwashing techniques and regularly sanitize workstations.   
  • Request that employees report flu-like symptoms to their manager.  

Entitled sick days and sick leave  

In B.C., employees are granted a minimum of three paid sick leave days per year to allow them to recover from illness or injury. And as of January 1st, 2022, the ESA has updated the Act to include an additional five days of unpaid sick leave. All in all, employees in B.C. receive eight sick days, three are paid, and five are unpaid.  

B.C.’s Employment Standards Act states that sick days/leave is available to employees who have worked for an employer for at least 90 days. This applies to part-time, temporary, and casual workers. However, federally regulated workplaces, self-employed workers, and independent contractors do not receive these benefits.  

 There are certain guidelines for taking sick days/leaves that employers must ensure employees follow:  

 Such as:  

  • Employees cannot use their sick days or leave to care for a family member or loved one. 
  • Employees cannot take partial sick days. Any sick day taken will be counted as a full day.  
  • Sick days cannot be carried over to the next year.  

 Employers are required to compensate for these benefits.  

Developing a sick leave policy  

It’s essential you develop a sick leave policy that clearly states your expectations regarding how an employee should report a sickness-related absence and request sick leave.  

Things your policy should cover include:  

  • If you require that an employee provide a doctor’s note.  
  • A plan for who will take over an employee’s duties while they are away on sick leave.  
  • How you will respond if a concerning absence pattern appears.  
  • Whether you plan to offer a paid sick leave – whether or not this is provided is based on the employer’s discretion.  

Need help preventing sickness in the workplace or developing a sick leave policy?  

If you need help curbing sickness in your workplace or are at all unclear about sick leave entitlements, Employer Line is here to help. Our experts are on the line to support you through this and ensure compliance with the ESA. Call Employer Line today at 1-833-200-5103.