Employment Law

Legislative Update: Bill Introduced to Amend ESA Paid Sick Leave

On March 28, 2022, the Minister of Labour introduced Bill 19 which proposes amendments to the paid sick leave entitlements under British Columbia’s Employment Standards Act (the “ESA”).

Effective January 1, 2022, the ESA entitled employees to five days of paid sick leave per employment year (see our article introducing the change here).  If enacted, Bill 19 will standardize the annual entitlement period for all employees, and also clarify its application to employees working under collective agreements.

Calendar Year Accrual

First, the proposed changes would modify the sick leave entitlement to provide employees with five paid days of sick leave per calendar year.  Presently, employees receive five paid days per employment year.

The change stems from the government’s recognition that many employers found administering the leave entitlement based on individual employment year to be “cumbersome”.  The proposed change will change the entitlement from employment year to a standard calendar year accrual for all.

Unionized Workplaces – “meet or exceed”

Second, Bill 19 proposes to remove paid sick leave from the list of ESA provisions that do not apply to unionized employees whose collective agreement provisions “meet or exceed” those applicable ESA provisions.  As a result, regardless of an employer’s collective agreement provisions, paid sick leave would apply to all employees just as any other protected leave of absence under Part 6 of the ESA.     The government explained that the change is meant to address concerns that some employees were excluded from receiving the full five paid sick days due to existing language in collective agreements.

Effective Date

If passed, the proposed amendments would come into force on the date of Royal Assent, which is expected before the end of the current legislative session. We will continue to monitor the progress of Bill 19 and will post further updates once available.*

If you have any questions about Bill 19, please contact your Harris lawyer.

*Since publishing this article the proposed amendments have received Royal Assent. Read more here: Legislative Update: Amendments to ESA Sick Leave Now In Effect.