COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave
Last updated: June 17, 2021
Starting Thursday, June 17, 2021, employers can apply for reimbursement of wages paid to workers who have taken sick leave related to COVID-19.
The temporary reimbursement program is retroactive to May 20, 2021, when legislation was passed, to ensure sick workers can stay home for up to three days without losing wages, while supporting businesses during the pandemic.
Scroll down to find information on the following:
Visit the BC Government website for full details.
Short-Term Paid Sick Leave
The short-term paid sick leave will bridge the gap for workers between when they first feel sick and when they can access the federal Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit.
The amendments to the Employment Standards Act (ESA) require employers to pay sick workers their regular wages. Workers can now take three days of paid sick leave if they need to stay home because of COVID-19.
Employers can then apply for reimbursement up to $200 per day, to a maximum of three days per worker. Any employer whose workers are covered under the ESA but does not currently provide paid sick leave benefits to its employees will be eligible.
This program will remain in place until December 31, 2021.
Information for Workers
Effective May 20, 2021, workers can take up to three paid sick days if they need to stay home due to COVID-19. A doctor’s note is not required to take a COVID-19 sick day.
The paid sick leave is available for workers with reasons such as:
- Having been diagnosed with COVID-19
- Waiting for COVID-19 test results
- Needing to self-isolate or self-monitor
- Following a public health order
- Being directed to stay at home by your employer because of exposure risks
Under this program, workers will get paid their full wage.
This benefit will be available to workers covered under the Employment Standards Act who do not already have a paid sick leave benefits plan and both full-time and part-time workers are eligible.
Additional information will be available once the legislation becomes law.
Information for Employers
Effective May 20, 2021, employers are required to offer employees up to three days of paid sick leave, and pay their regular wages, if the employees need to stay at home as a result of circumstances related to COVID-19.
This benefit will be available to workers covered under the Employment Standards Act who do not already have a paid sick leave benefits plan, and additional information will be available once the legislation becomes law.
If a workplace does not have an existing sick leave program, the Province will reimburse employers up to $200 a day. For the small percentage of employers that have a highly paid workforce, but do not already have paid sick leave, those employers will be required to cover any remaining wages owed above $200 for each COVID-19 sick day taken.
WorkSafeBC will be administering the reimbursement program on behalf of the Province. The program is not part of the workers’ compensation system and will not impact WorkSafeBC’s employer premiums or its accident fund.
Employer Reimbursement Program
As an employer, if you do not currently offer employees sick leave, the Province will reimburse you, up to $200 a day, through the Employer Reimbursement Program.
Employers are required to pay for their employee’s sick leave up front and then apply for the reimbursement after.
WorkSafeBC will administer the program through their online services portal and will send employers the reimbursement directly.
Note: the program is not part of the workers’ compensation system and does not impact WorkSafeBC’s employer premiums or its Accident Fund.
Employers must make sure that they meet both eligibility criteria before applying for the reimbursement:
- The employee must work in BC
- The employee must have taken a COVID-19-related sick leave between May 20, 2021, and December 2021.
Examples of COVID-19-related sick leave include:
- Being diagnosed with COVID-19.
- Waiting for COVID-19 test results.
- Needing to self-isolate or self-monitor for COVID-19.
- Following a public health order.
- Being directed to stay home by the employer due to exposure risks.
Applying for the Reimbursement
Submitting an application for reimbursement is easy and can be completed online.
However, before an application can be completed online, employers must:
- Be registered for WorkSafeBC insurance coverage.
- Signed up for WorkSafeBC’s online services account.