EDITORIAL – Employers, not gov’t, should pay for new sick-days rule

(Image: Govt of B.C.)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

WHO AMONG US has ever gone to work when we’ve been feeling like crap? And, who among us has been on the job when a co-worker shows up sniffling and hacking and coughing and spreading germs all over the work place?

All of us, that’s who. We’ve lived in a culture since time immemorial when staying home for a bad cold or a touch of the flu has been regarded as letting down our fellow workers. So we suffer heroically through it.

Adding to the issue is that so many B.C. employees don’t receive pay for sick days. More than a million of them, in fact.

That will change on Jan. 1 when a new law kicks in requiring employers to give their employees at least five days of paid sick leave if they need it. That will include part-time workers, many of whom are on the low end of the pay scale.

Some employers say the government should pay for it.

That’s pretty short sighted. What these employers forget is the cost of having sick workers on the job. Awareness of the pitfalls has dramatically increased during the pandemic but they apply with or without COVID-19.

What the pandemic has done is to make us much less tolerant of having sick co-workers around us. We’d rather take up their workload while they stay home. It’s better for them, and better for us.

Employers who resist anything that increases their responsibilities to their employees — including, for example, raising the minimum wage — have to realize that healthy, happy employees improve productivity, and stay longer.

Certainly, there will be abuses by employees who will take the maximum number of sick days off whether they’re really sick or not. But most won’t.
There’s no way government — that is, the taxpayers at large — should be expected to pay for something employers should have been doing already, and will have to do under the new law.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (9510 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

3 Comments on EDITORIAL – Employers, not gov’t, should pay for new sick-days rule

  1. So … you say … “Employers, not government, should pay for new sick-days rule” ?

    Honestly we all know who will be paying, and that’s consumers, because it will simply become a cost of doing business and added to the price tag

    Perhaps, instead, a better way would have been a shared pool of money to be drawn from, similar to EI with both employers and employees each putting in the equivalent of 2 hours pay per month to cover the 5 days.

    It’s too late for that now however, as the shortsighted dictatorial decision has already been made — one which, as I already pointed out, will be borne by consumers.

    As if the cost of living isn’t already escalating at a dangerous rate already!

    • A shared pool of money is called…the government Allan. The “wheel” has been invented already, no need to claim ownership.

  2. Especially for small employers you are completely of the wrong opinion Mr. MR, in my opinion.The flu can happen, feeling sick can happen but not very often especially if one takes precautions. In very many cases I went to work feeling not 100% and made it through without any consequences for the ones around me. For many employees this will be an additional five stats holidays.

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