Am I Required to Pay My Employee Sick Days?

It has been a stressful and confusing year for both employees and employers trying to navigate the ever-changing landscape of restrictions, closures and government programs. As the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic ramps up, many businesses are again faced with new challenges, including what they must do when an employee says that they need time off and COVID-19 is suspected or related to their need to be away from work. 

Should you offer paid sick leave?

Some employees have recently been surprised to find that their employers did not pay them for time away from work to take a COVID-19 test or for remaining at home because they felt unwell.  Employers have been equally surprised that their employees have turned to “Dr. Google” for answers, presenting them with quotes from the inter-web and demanding payment for the missed time.  If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. 

In Canada, only two provinces have legislated paid sick days: Québec and P.E.I.  In the province of Québec, employees are eligible for 2-days paid sick leave per year after they reach 3 consecutive months of employment, while in P.E.I., an employee is eligible for 1-paid sick day per year after they have reached 5-years of consecutive service.  Federally regulated employers, under the Canada Labour Code, must provide 3-paid personal days after 3-months of employment, however most small and mid-sized businesses are regulated under their respective provincial labour laws. 

While most provinces don’t mandate paid sick days, it does not prevent the employer from providing them.  There are actually some advantages, both short and long term, to be considered by offering paid sick or personal leave, especially during this time.  In the short-term, offering employees paid time off if they are unwell or are recommended to be tested for COVID-19 may help reduce their stress during an already stressful time, and could significantly reduce potential for exposure within your workplace. 

In the long term, once we are out of the pandemic, employers will need to consider their employees perception of the company.  How employees believe their employers protected or treated them in the worst of times can have a lasting effect.  When the world returns to some level of normalcy, and businesses are hiring again, will you be ready for the questions about how your company handled the pandemic? 

In short, as a small business owner, you do not need to wait for legislation to be created to offer paid time off for your employees.  Over the past year, the PayEvo HX team has worked with small to mid-sized businesses to help them prepare and respond to the variety of challenges and situations the COVID-19 pandemic has presented.  We can help you too. 

Our team offers one-time consultations to address a specific need, or can be engaged for ongoing support.  At your workplace, what is your Human Experience? 

Have questions about paid sick leave? Email us hx@paymentevolution.com or call us +1-647-776-7600