A temporary paid sick leave program is essential to ensure individuals and businesses are able adequately manage the health and economic challenges arising from COVID-19. Temporary paid sick leave is a fundamental requirement for the economic recovery of Surrey and British Columbia.
“The Surrey Board of Trade recognizes that offering employees paid sick leave will greatly benefit businesses affected by the pandemic,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade. “In the United States, the introduction of a temporary paid sick leave resulted in an estimated 50% reduction in the number of COVID-19 cases per state per day. It is our understanding that a majority of businesses have acknowledged the value in this benefit, by reducing the incidence of transmission of the virus thereby reducing critical impacts to the labour force, lost opportunities, costs to employers and lost wages.”
“In BC we are behind in creating a paid sick leave program that works for all businesses and all workers.”
Some considerations that were sent to Minister Bains for paid sick leave:
- expanding access to paid sick leave to self-employed workers;
- taking over employer obligations to finance sick pay;
- ensuring that temporary foreign workers have access to sick pay;
- making the application process easy and simple for the employer to receive a level of reimbursement per employee for sick pay; and,
- implementing mechanisms to prevent absenteeism and promote return to work.
Beyond temporary paid sick leave, government should also focus on active health and safety enforcement efforts for high-risk workplaces, where workers come in close proximity with co-workers or clients. As well, a deeper conversation will need to occur with the private sector related to structural paid sick leave reforms and needs to appear on the agenda once the pandemic is over. Those discussions should include:
- improving access to paid sick leave for the entire workforce;
- promoting prevention of sickness and the return to work of recovered workers; and,
- preparing for future pandemics by improving the adaptability of paid sick leave systems.
To access the full letter sent by the Surrey Board of Trade:
Anita Huberman, 604-634-0342, email@example.com