Vernon chamber shares concerns over province's permanent, paid sick leave plan

Concern over sick leave

Many employers already provide staff with paid sick leave, and additional regulations could "impact an organization’s ability to hire new staff, provide raises, or remain viable," the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce says.

The chamber related its concerns about permanent, paid sick leave during a virtual roundtable Oct. 14 with Labour Minister Harry Bains and Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu.

"We appreciate Minister Bains and MLA Sandhu meeting with us so we can understand more about the government's proposed permanent, paid sick leave and they can hear first-hand concerns coming from local businesses and non-profits," said chamber president Robin Cardew.

"Businesses and non-profits, as employers, want to ensure their workforce is healthy and treated equitably and compassionately. In fact, many employers are already providing their staff with paid sick leave. It's important for government to understand, though, that businesses and non-profits operate within limited financial structures."

In August, the chamber wrote to the provincial government, pointing out that employers already provide a financial investment in their employees, via Canada Pension Plan and employment insurance premiums, the employer health tax, WorkSafeBC, and vacation pay.

"On top of those costs, many employers provide their employees and families with extended health benefits while many already voluntarily have paid sick leave. When everything is combined, the total cost can equate to 30 per cent above wages," the chamber wrote.

"Businesses and non-profits are committed to a healthy workforce as it's essential for our community and economy. However, the cumulative impact of government taxation, employee benefits and the rising cost of living, such as utilities and rent, creates challenges for businesses and non-profits in B.C.," said Cardew.

Currently, the province will reimburse employers up to $200 a day through the Employer Reimbursement Program for COVID-19 related paid sick leave wages paid to an employee. Employers can be reimbursed for up to three days of paid leave for each employee.

If permanent, paid sick leave proceeds, the chamber requests:

  • That the same terms as the COVID Employer Reimbursement Program apply so businesses and non-profits can adjust financial plans to accommodate such costs
  • That businesses and non-profits with unionized staff be able to negotiate the number of paid sick days as part of collective bargaining

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