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 ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.