B.C. employers must drop doctor’s note requirements to limit COVID-19 spread: BCGEU

IN light of the ongoing concern regarding the COVID-19 virus, the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union is calling on all B.C. employers to waive the requirement for employees to provide a note from a doctor to access their sick leave.

“We all must take appropriate steps to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, and B.C. workers need to do so without barriers or additional risk of infecting others,” said Stephanie Smith, President of the BCGEU. “Our provincial government has made the responsible decision to waive their employees’ need for doctor’s notes for COVID-19-related illness, and our union urges all employers in B.C. follow suit.”

She added: “We all have a part to play in limiting the spread of COVID-19 and the message from public health experts is clear—one critically important thing we all need to do is stay home if we feel sick. Right now many employers require workers to produce a doctor’s note to access their sick leave, which creates a needless administrative hurdle for workers, an additional strain on our health care system, and an increased risk of spreading the infection.”

Last week on Friday, the B.C. government notified public service employees they will not need a doctor’s note to begin receiving sick pay for COVID-19 related absences.

“Our provincial government’s response to COVID-19 has been exceptional,” said Smith. “They have shown tremendous leadership by waiving the need for doctor’s notes for their employees and our union is calling on all employers in B.C. follow suit. It’s a seemingly small decision that would have an enormous impact as we navigate this public health crisis.”

The BCGEU said it joins the broader labour movement in concern for the financial impacts that prolonged illness and quarantine periods will have on working families in communities — particularly those with precarious employment. The union joins the BC Federation of Labour and the Canadian Labour Congress in their calls for enhanced sick leave protections and the elimination of the one-week Employment Insurance waiting period respectively. It is essential that all levels of government take swift, decisive and coordinated action to ensure that workers are not forced to risk exacerbating the spread of COVID-19 for fear of losing their paycheque or their job, said the BCGEU