Ontario workers to get more sick days
Published Wednesday, November 8, 2017 5:21PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 8, 2017 6:58PM EST
Workers in Ontario will soon be getting more paid sick days.
Changes introduced in Ottawa Wednesday would, if passed, require all provincially regulated companies in Ontario to give part-time and full-time employees at least 10 sick days, two of those days would be paid. The changes to the Ontario labour code would also prevent employers from asking for a doctor's note.
"We hope companies will far expand that," said Kevin Flynn, the Minister of Labour.
Right now only employers with more than 50 regular employees are mandated to offer unpaid sick days to employees.
The move still has to be approved by the legislature, but it is expected to come into effect as of January 1st, 2018. The changes do not impact current collective agreements.
"We are going to respect collective agreements to the expiry of that and allow them to run out on their own," said Flynn. "The expectation is that when a new agreement is bargained, they will meet or extend what is in the Labour Employment Act.
The President of the Ottawa and District Labour Council Sean McKenny said the additional sick days will be good for employees. He also said the decision to ban doctor's notes will help ease stress.
"It's important that they feel they are contributing," McKenny said. "A healthy workplace is a better workplace and they will work better for the employer."
The changes also include a requirement for employers to provide a leave of absence of up to 17 weeks, without the fear of losing their job, when an employee or their child has experienced or is threatened with domestic or sexual violence.
Crisis intervention workers said the move is a step in the right direction but that the burden is being placed on survivors to come forward before.
"By just simply revealing to an employer that this is something you are taking the time off for, there can be the concern about how they might see you going forward," said Ally Crockford, a public educator at the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre.
Crockford called the time off a "positive step" that is "essential" in someone's journey.
"Having employers recognize employees need this time during their journey is essential," she said. "But this does put the burden on the survivors to disclose to the employer that this is something that is difficult for survivors, especially given that there is a likelihood their abuser may be in the workplace or they may feel their workplace is not a place that will support them in revealing that type of experience."