Vernon chamber survey finds employee abuse of mandated paid sick days

Sick leave change sought

A Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce survey finds members want changes to government-mandated sick days.

The chamber is calling on the provincial government to change employee paid sick leave rules.

It wants sick pay to be pro-rated for casual and part time employees, to require a doctor's note, and that employers be compensated for paid sick leave.

Survey respondents said they’ve seen an increase in sick days since the rules came into effect on Jan 1, 2022.

Chamber general manager Dan Proulx says there is a lack of clarity surrounding sick days, leading to misunderstanding and even abuse.

“Employers want to do what is best for their employees, especially when they are ill. However, it was clear during the survey that paid sick leave has created challenges for private sector and non-profit employers when it comes to staffing levels and costs,” says Proulx.

Some chamber members believe employees are using paid sick days as extra days off.

“We have no recourse. They call in sick, they expect to be paid. It’s conveniently been Fridays and Mondays,” stated one survey respondent.

“Employee wants an extra-long weekend, takes a government sick day. Unenthusiastic about tomorrow’s task, takes a government sick day,” said another.

Currently, the government allows employers to ask for "reasonably sufficient proof of illness."

The chamber plans to reach out to Vernon MLA Harwinder Sandhu on the matter. It’s already reached out to Labour Minister Harry Bains.

In December, the chamber sent a letter to Bains, asking for a review of paid sick days and the cost and impact on employers.

The letter also asked for the government to speak with business groups before conducting changes to paid sick leave.

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