The government is open to amending legislation that would provide 10 days of paid sick leave for federally regulated workers.
Federal Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan acknowledged that at least two provisions in the legislation, Bill C-3, could undermine the objective, which is to ensure ill workers don’t have to choose between going to work sick or staying home without pay.
As the bill is currently written, employers would be allowed to require a doctor’s note verifying that an employee is ill. Senators on a committee doing a pre-study of the bill said that makes no sense on a number of fronts — including the fact that a person with coronavirus symptoms isn’t even allowed to enter a doctor’s office these days — and would inhibit workers from taking sick leave.
Under the current bill, workers would accrue their 10 days of paid sick leave at a rate of one day per month. Senators point out that would do little to help a worker who contracts the coronavirus or another illness within a month or two of the bill’s enactment.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the promise of 10 paid sick days this summer while campaigning ahead of the federal election in September. The issue of providing workers with paid sick days has been a hot topic since the global pandemic began. Recently, B.C. announced it would give workers five paid sick days starting next month.