Sickness in the workplace is an unfortunate reality that every employer must deal with. And the negative effects this has are plain to see, which include a reduction in productivity and increased staff shortages.    

Especially through peak periods of the spread of sickness (e.g. flu season), it’s essential that your business takes steps to protect staff.    

While sickness in the workplace is not entirely avoidable, well-developed policies can reduce spread of infection by ensuring sick employees stay home. Having protocols in place also ensure your employees receive their correct sick leave entitlements.    

This should include:    

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

And when granting entitlements, you must act in accordance with Manitoba’s Employment Standards Code (ESC) to stay compliant and protect your business.   


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 reduce the spread of sickness in your workplace.    

Such as:  

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


Entitled sick days and sick leave   

In Manitoba, the ESC mandates that employers must provide employees who have served with a company for 30 days or more with a minimum of 3 days of unpaid leave. This leave can be taken due to sickness or family care responsibilities.   

The province offers alternative sickness-related leaves, which the employee?  is free to take advantage of.  

For instance, Leave Related to Critical Illness offers extended unpaid time off from work when employees need to provide support to a critically ill family member. If the family member is a child (under 18 years old), the employee may take up to 37 weeks of leave within a 52-week period. If the employee is caring for an adult, they may take up to 17 weeks of leave within a 52-week period.   

And if an employee requires extended leave (more than 2 weeks) due to illness, Long-Term Leave for Serious Injury or Illness is available to them. This leave can be taken for up to 17 weeks within a 52-week period. An employee is entitled to this leave if they have worked for the same employer for at least 90 days and can provide proof that they require time off due to a serious illness or injury.     

Employers are free to provide more entitlements than allotted by the ESC, such as paid sick leave. However, they must not offer less than indicated by the Code.   


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 leave. It should also state the processes for taking certain leaves, such as Leave Related to Critical Illness and Leave for Serious Injury or Illness. 


Things your policy should cover include:    

  • If you require that an employee provide a doctor’s note.    
  • A plan for who will take over the employees duties while they are away on sick leave.    
  • How you will respond if concerning absence patterns appear.    
  • Whether you plan to offer paid sick leave.    


Need help developing a sick leave policy?    

If you need help developing a sick leave policy or are 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 ESC. Call Employer Line today at 1 (204) 201-1609.